Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gear Up: Must-have metronome features

We all know we should be practicing with a metronome - it's a no-brainer. And in today's world, there are more metronome variations available than ever before. Both in hardware form and in apps and software, the ol' timekeeper is pretty easy to get.

But how do you know if you're getting a good one? Here are three essential features to look for when getting a metronome.
  1. Single digit tempo adjustment. Beyond the fact that it's just annoying to not be able to get the exact tempo that you need, single digit adjustment allows you to push your tempo thresholds in the smallest possible increment. And that means you can trick your brain into thinking that things are just a little bit easier. 
  2. Tap tempo. Personally, I didn't know what I was missing until I got a 'nome with this feature. Now I can't live without it.* The ability to approximate a tempo, or scale the difficulty of the exercise to the situation gets infinitely easier if you can just tap it in and get it done.
  3. Audio output jacks. For many reasons, you'll want the option of isolating who can hear the click - for practice sessions, live performance and studio work.
Obviously there are many more things a metronome can do, and you may want those features. (Let us know what features you think are critical in the comments below.) But, for the sake of basic functionality, you're not getting your money's worth without these three features. 

Happy drumming!

For a more detailed review of some specific models, check out this page.

*I'm a complete tempo geek. Using the tap tempo feature, I have catalogued almost every song in my database by its tempo, style, time signature and style. This gives me the ability to play any exercise or excerpt that I'm working on either with the click or with a track. Honestly, would you rather warm up with a robotic beep or the Foo Fighters? I thought so.


  1. Ability to get subdivisions (both 8s, 16ths and triplets) is an important feature for me as well.
    A great exercise i do for timekeeping is doing the exercise with all subs beeping away, and then slowly removing them, one by one.
    For instance, start with the 'nome on all 16ths, 30 bpms. This is equivalent to 4ths in 120 bpm. As you remove subs, you'll end with one single stroke, every 4 bars (1 note pr bar in 30 bpms). Repeat the exercise until you lose the beat!

  2. Thanks, Jonas! I love the concept of gradually removing beats while practicing an exercise. Great idea - thanks for sharing.

  3. OMG Keith, I totally agree with the tap tempo function! Most of us don't know what we're missing until we actually use it.

    With the advent of so many digital metronomes in the market, I actually look for a metronome that is easy to use first, before looking for the rest of the features you've mentioned. Some metronomes are just plagued with messy designs that aint the most fun to use.

    I'd wrote down some of my thoughts on choosing metronomes for drummers here too:

    Let me know what you think!


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