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Drum Machine advice, please.......

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by John C. Smith, Aug 21, 2000.

  1. Hey all

    I've been offered a used Alesis SR-16 at a reasonable price. The very recent post on metronomes got me to remembering how much I loathe practicing to a metronome (click, click, click), and how maybe a cheap drum machine will help my practice regimen. I CAN use this machine as a practice device, yes?

    I realise from my research that this model of Alesis is very popular, and I'd appreciate any pro/con advice on it's utility/quirks, etc.


  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam


  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I'm not sure about this particular drum machine and have no experience of it, which is why I didn't expand further in my previous response. (Or maybe I just liked the elegance of the Yes once I'd typed it ;))

    On my drum machine I can easily remove instruments at the touch of a button, so I can just leave a snare, rimshot or handclap playing the 2 and 4 and practice to this and I do this quite often. But the drum machine also lets me attempt more complex stuff and then break it down, so that I only have the 2 and 4 again or equivalent. As I mentioned previously on the board, I was once given a written bassline in 15/4 which I just could not get, until I had programmed it into my drum machine as 5 bars of 3/4 with a drum pattern that overlapped at the right places.

    I think that the facility to switch between the two is important, in practice terms, but don't know whether this drum machine has it - it's probably not the first consideration for the designers.
  4. Thanks for the input, guys.....

    Bruce, your initial response could have suited a question regarding my favourite prog band of the 70s, too!

    Your latter post (along with Ed's) pretty much answered my question, which more properly should have been couched as "I'm bored with my metronome sometimes; will a drum machine spice up my practice regimen?" Shame I didn't get it right first time around.

    I hear where you're coming from on not concentrating on the "click", Ed......I don't, I concentrate on the groove, or piece of music.....but it's nice to change the routine around once in a while. fwiw, the Alesis is pretty much the marque for drum machines, I gather. If I get it, I'll post in a month or so on my thoughts.


  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I have an Alesis Sr 16 and I loved it, but it no longer works and I don't know where to take it to fix it. But anyway, I feel both metronomes and drum machines are valuable practice tools. The value of a metronome has been outlined numerous times at tjis message board. What I liked about my drum machine is that you do get more of a feel for what it is like to play with a real drummer than you do with a metronome. I say that because a drummer with even the simplest drum kit will have more going on than a metronomic beat. That could set a player back who hasn't played with anything but a metronome in his home. But a drum machine can be more realistic and helps discipline the bassist to listen for the kick and listen for the snare or the high hat or whatever.

    Also the Alesis Sr 16 has varied feels, such as Latin, blues, rock, swing, etc. I feel that it is helpful and interesting to work with different rhythms and not just a clack, clack, clack all the time. But all that said, I still feel the metronome is also a vital part of a bassist's practice routine. Jason Oldsted
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    What I said about the advantages of a drum machine do very much come from a rock background, namely heavy metal. Locking in tight with the bass drum was almost a religion in the music I played. I have never played jazz...probably never will, in fact. So I guess I do bring a very different perspective to the discussion than the jazz practitioners here. I'm not sure what style of music the person who posed the original question has in mind.

    I still think drum machines, or at the very least, the rhythm varieties available on a keyboard are interesting ways to vary practice sessions and are a good, worthwhile addition to metronomes. There are metronomes that will play triplets and other simple rythmic figures besides just the clack, clack. I have two of those, but still enjoyed my Alesis when the darned thing worked. Now I can't get any volume out of it, no matter what I try, so now I just use my keyboard's programed rhythms.

    Jason " The Argonaut" Oldsted
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Jason - I think my assumptions come from the fact that it's just a surprise to me that anyone in a Heavy Metal band would practice at all - let alone with a metronome! ;)

  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    That's so funny. I practiced like crazy, but let me give some background to put it in perspective. I was playing a serious game of catch up. I had never played a musical instrument in my life. But my sons had gone away to college and I suddenly found myself with an empty nest and time. So just three months shy of my fiftieth birthday, I bought a bass guitar and little amp, enrolled in a music school in South America where I lived, all instruction in Spanish, and told myself if I practiced and studies five or more hours a day, I could "catch up" with the kids in that school.

    I was older than any of the teachers or the owner!! Plus I was the only Gringo. Anyway, I could write a book on those adventures. To shorten the story, though, I'll just say I HAD to practice and even then it took me far longer than the kids to learn. I knew I couldn't cut it from the school alone, so paid an excellent teacher from the local symphony to supplement the school and STILL had to (and STILL have to) work hard and long.

    Anyway, the lesson in all this is start young, the younger the better. Music takes so much time. There are no shortcuts. And when you are over fifty, you feel a time pressure to learn it all "yesterday", but it just takes even longer. But the effort is worth it and I enjoy practicing. But I know I'll never be a threat to Stu Hamm, Vic Wooten, Stanley Clarke or Anthony Jackson and I no longer practice five or more hours a day, either. Jason Oldsted
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Jason, sorry - I hope you didn't take this as a personal comment on your situation and realised that this was a joke. You sound like an unusually committed person and I would say that your situation sounds unique.

    I was thinking more of your typical Heavy Metal player who would think it extremely "uncool" to admit practising with a metronome, when they could be out living the "high life"! Maybe I should have said [Spinal Tap mode : ON] :D
  10. Thanks for your posts, everyone........

    fwiw, I'm more a rock/blues player than jazz (and I dig metal, to a lesser extent), and I've gotten something from the whole thread....which surely is the point in posting in the first place. I figure I'll get the Alesis. I can use it as a simple metronome as well as a drum machine, easily vary tempo and feel, and be less bored with my practice regimen.

    Thanks again!

  11. jamie garner

    jamie garner

    Sep 9, 2000
    one thing the sr-16 has that can really help is a 'humanize' setting, which will randomize the the up/down beats by a user defined percentage. even the best drummers slightly alter the beat to suit the groove of a particular song- using the sr-16 with the humanize on has taught me how to feep the groove going whiloe the beat moves around- this can be invaluable for real-life gig situations.

    i also have a boss dr-770, and while i think it's a better machine, it's missing the humanize function, and costs over twice as much, too.

    the sr-16 is really the bst machine to be had for under $400, imo.

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