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How would you suggest trying out a click track to your new band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by npbassman, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. npbassman

    npbassman Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2002
    I'm the new guy in classic rock band. All of the members are hobbyists. No pros here by any means but we're fairly decent at our instruments. I'm having fun playing with them but I'll get to the point. I think we have a problem with time, tempo and groove. I'm no angel here either as I know I have a lot to do with it and I actually feel like I'm one of the weaker members of the group. I'm just trying to be self aware and look at my/our playing honestly and I feel like we play tunes too fast, we play on top of the beat, it sounds like we're all "racing" to get to the end of the tune, and our tempo wavers.

    Last practice I actually suggested we slow down "Listen to the Music" by the doobs and that was met with a comment of "if we play it any slower we're going to put the audience to sleep". I don't know. Maybe it's just me being overcritical? Have a listen to two of our tunes for yourself. And yes, I know I screwed up the solo to Peg! : )


    If TBers agree with me that there is room for improvement in these areas, how would you suggest to the group (again) that we try playing to a click (and at a slower tempo) for a few songs to see how it sounds? Or am I just being too critical and just let it be?

  2. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Honestly, the best suggestions is individual practice on the part of the band members. They need to practice these songs to a metronome in their free time to internalize good rhythm and tempo.

    A click MIGHT help, but they would have to practice playing along with the click still, as it's easy for beats to get skipped and turned around. Personally i would rather practice the material more than start using a click, but that's just me.
  3. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Also you could try using the click during rehearsals, but not during live shows.
  4. If the tempo varies, use your recordings during a band meeting to broach the issue. Maybe if everyone "sees" the problem it can be fixed. Your comments however lean more towards the tempo is just too fast. A click won't help at all if everyone thinks the tempo is what keeps the audience awake.
  5. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Sorry, I can't listen to your tracks on my current device. I hope you don't mind if I share some thoughts. Tempo is sometimes not as important as feel, groove, expression, and other subtleties. "Faster" does not necessarily mean "more exciting".

    Individual practice is always a good thing. I think click track use can depend on several things, the music genre, type of club (dance, concert, background dinner music, etc), how accomplished the musicians are, etc. In my book, use whatever works.

    I've played in bands where only the drummer is using a click track. I've played in other bands where everyone who wants it can get the click track in their in-ear monitors. I don't mind playing with a click track, in fact I prefer it for some tunes where the music is open, soft, ethereal, and you have to keep the vocals together.

    I have a tendency to play really on top of the beat. If the drummer is not paying attention then I can force the tempo to increase. One of my pet peeves is when a drummer will rush during a fill, sometimes dropping as much as a half beat. These can really mess up the dancers, at least with the music I play where the dances are organized (two steps, line dances, cha-cha, etc). With a click track there is no question.

    Granted the music has to "breathe" so if everyone is practiced and used to playing at a steady tempo, then it won't hurt if the tempo varies slightly. But if the tempo keeps getting faster, AND the drummer rushes his fills dropping a half beat, then ONE is not ONE (as in downbeat) and the song can sound really disjointed and totally un-grooving.

    The quickest/easiest/cheapest solution would be to try getting the drummer to use an electronic metronome and an earbud during practices and see how it works out. It takes some getting used to. Once everyone's meter is better you can probably do without the click track. It would take some gear investment to get a click track to everyone so I'd start with the drummer, if necessary.

    Let us know how it goes. I wish you all the best.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2014
    Bassist4Eris likes this.
  6. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    IME a typical classic rock band isn't going to take kindly to the suggestion. I'd either live with it (with the occasional "wasn't that a bit fast?") or quit.
  7. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer


    The tempo on the Doobies cover sounds about right to me.

    The tempo on the Steely Dan cover is maybe slightly rushed, but really what needs to happen here is the groove needs to feel more relaxed.

    Overall, though, I'd be pretty impressed if I heard a bar band that sounded like this. My advice? Go ahead and suggest a click, but don't worry too much about it if they refuse.

    Also, since you've admitted to being a weak link in this regard, practicing with a metronome (as others have suggested) is probably worth doing too.
  8. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    I listened to the first two minutes of both songs. I didn't sense any of the problems you mentioned. Other than one spot in "Peg" where the drummer staggered just a bit, the meter was very steady. "Listen To The Music" really didn't sound too fast to me either.

    BUT if the "feel" bothers YOU, maybe you just haven't clicked with these guys yet. I do know what you mean about "on top of the beat".

    My new band has a few songs that have tempo problems, and we've addressed most of them. We also have a few songs where the speed (bpm) seems crucial. On most though, a bit fast or slow isn't a deal breaker.

    Finally, if someone is playing the "wrong" part, it will throw off the feel of the song.

    Since you are recording rehearsals, I suggest you use the recording as a reference. Use it to identify the problems you perceive. Then point them out to the rest of the band.
  9. davy4575


    Nov 4, 2009
    Denver, CO
    no matter what level of musician, individually you should be practicing to a metronome or click. If the songs are being played too fast, and thats where the band grooves, kinda is what it is. but if the songs speed up or slow down, that is an issue. One of the bands I have, we do a couple covers. "school" by nirvana, guitarist loves to play it fast...i dont care what speed cause we can groove it, but we also do the mountain song by janes and the drummer loves to play it fast to the point that the riff dosnt work too well on bass so I just ask him politely to keep in mind that I need it a slower tempo. The reverse is true for the immigrant song. we do a version where I slap it and its easier for him if I play it slower....point is, more flies with honey than with vinegar.
  10. npbassman

    npbassman Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2002
    Thank you everyone for the replies and comments. I shall continue without mentioning anything other than a "ya think we can we try it a little slower?" comment and I'll also break out the metronome during my wood shedding to improve my game. I'm taking Bob C's comment seriously in that maybe it's me who hasn't gelled with the group yet.

    I appreciate the feedback and advice! the TB community is awesome!

  11. OldDirtyBassist


    Mar 13, 2014
    I don't think click tracks and classic rock go together. I don't hear anything wrong with your band, either. Congrats on finding a band that will even attempt a pain in the butt song like 'Peg'.
  12. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I listened to the tunes and the tempos sound fine to me. Songs generally tend to be faster live, which is okay. Everyone sounds really good. There are some occasional hiccups, but nothing a little practice won't solve. Some vocals might help, but other than that, I don't hear too much of a problem.
  13. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.
    Hi Mr. npbassmann,

    I finally got to listen to your tracks. Yes, the tempos are fine. Peg might be a couple of clicks faster than the recording but it's not too fast. It's just that everyone is playing on top of the beat and makes it sound rushed. It should sound more relaxed. Make sure the syncopated rhythms are hit just where they should be and not ahead. For example, if you count one-eee-and-ahh, two-eee-and-ahh......(to break the 4 count into 16ths), the rhythm guitar strums on the one, on the "ahh" of one, then again on the "and" of two, then holds that chord until the end of the measure. That figure is being rushed in the "Peg" song and it doesn't lay back and grove as much as it could.

    Other than that, you guys are pretty much nailing it. Those are really good covers, much better than average. Keep up the good work.

    I used to play "Peg" and a lot of other Steely Dan back in the day. It's still great music.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    Seanto likes this.

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