How To Use A Metronome For Live Drumming

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The Best Metronome For Live Drumming

When you’re playing live, it’s important that your timing is on point. So its important to know how to use a metronome for live drumming. And if you’ve done the practice required then there’s not going to be a real problem. You can then play live with a metronome, click track, or not. A metronome is of course a great tool to help keep you in time, but which one should you use? In this post, we’ll take a look at how to use a metronome for live drumming.

We’ll also discuss some of the features to look for when choosing a metronome. And then give you some tips on how to use it effectively. We’ll also explore the best metronomes for live drumming. And provide some recommendations.

So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced drummer looking for an upgrade. There’s sure to be a metronome that meets your needs. So let’s get started!

But first, we are not going to be discussing techniques on how to use a metronome. While practicing drums. You can find more about how to play drums to a metronome using this link. We’re going to be talking about some of the available options in this article.

The Benefits of How To Use a Metronome While Drumming and Playing Live Gigs

Drummers often get a bad rap for being too loud or intrusive. But the truth is that a good drummer is an essential part of any band. And in most cases has no choice but to give them a thrashing to get over the sheer volume of the guitar. Incidentally, when that occurs, it completely destroys the drummer’s ability to play. Especially when it comes to technical, precise, and accurate drumming.

Volume and power become his main concern when this happens. So from this point, playing to a metronome would need a click that could be heard too. So click volume becomes an issue to think about.

Of course, I am exaggerating (a little). So let’s presume from this point that every instrument is set at a comfortable volume.

In a private practice session, the best way to improve your drumming skills is to use a metronome. A metronome, whether mechanical or electronic, generates a consistent ticking sound, clicking at regular intervals to aid in maintaining a steady tempo during musical practice or performance. This clicking sound provides a consistent tempo that can help you keep time while you play.

Using a metronome while you practice will help you develop a better sense of timing and rhythm. As well as help you play more precisely. Without rushing or dragging. As a result, using a metronome can make you a better drummer and make the listener pay attention to your grooves.

And when you take your newfound skills out into the world. Using a metronome can help you play more confidently on live gigs. Audiences can be forgiving of small mistakes. But if you rush or drag the tempo, it can throw off the entire performance. Especially if dancing is involved.

By using a metronome when playing in live situations. You can avoid these issues and give your best performance every time.

What Are The Best Metronomes For Live Drumming On The Market Today?

When it comes to buying a metronome. There are a few different options that are suitable for live drumming. The first is an electronic metronome. Which can be set to the desired tempo and generally has a variety of different sounds to use. They can be used as an audible cue either to just set the tempo up for the start of a song. Or to keep it going throughout the song.

The second option is a mechanical metronome, which uses a physical pendulum to keep time. These metronomes are generally more accurate than electronic ones. But they can be more difficult to set up and use in a live setting. They are more for rudimentary practice at home or in the dressing room before you go on stage.

Finally, there are human metronomes, which are people who tap out the tempo with their hands or feet. While human metronomes may not be quite as accurate as their mechanical counterparts. They can be very helpful in keeping everyone on track in a live setting. A band leader would usually take on this role. Or indeed the drummer.

And guess what? The best human metronome happens to be the drummer. His job is, after all, to keep a great time and keep the music together.

When Not To Use Metronome In Live Situations

But there’s a possible issue using any kind of metronome. That is if a song contains anything other than 4/4 time. Or anything other than 3/4 time or some other basic time signature. Then a metronome isn’t going to be of much use. If a song has a bar of 3/4 thrown in the middle of a 4/4 song then you’re in trouble. In this case, no basic metronome is going to be suitable.


On top of that, if the song has a part in the middle where the song slows down or changes tempo then again, your in shtuck!

So, the only real choice for a metronome is a programmable one. One that can store songs. That way, each programmed song can include time and tempo changes. So the best metronomes for live performances are programmable metronomes and metronome apps.

What Are The Best Drumming Metronome Apps Available

As any musician knows, keeping a steady beat is essential to good playing. A metronome is a great tool for helping to maintain a consistent tempo. And there are now some excellent metronome apps available. For both iOS and Android devices. Some of the best drumming metronome apps include:

  • Perfect Metronome, (Nitigen)
  • Tempo,
  • Play Beats,
  • Pro Metronome (EUMLabs)

… to name a few.

Perfect Metronome offers a wide range of features and options. Making it ideal for both beginner and experienced drummers. It also has a playlist feature so you can record click tracks for full songs before the gig.

Tempo is another great option. It has a simple interface that makes it easy to set and adjust the desired tempo.

Play Beats is a more basic app, but it’s perfect for those who are looking for a simple metronome to help them stay on beat.

Pro Metronome also has a Playlist feature. So could theoretically perform the task of playing a range of songs on stage.

No matter what your needs are, there’s sure to be a drumming metronome app that’s perfect for you. But having said that, I have never and would never resort to using a phone for live click tracks. Even if you got passed the playlist, tempo, and time signature changes. I would find programming on a 6″ screen at best… well, kinda ridiculous. But then I’m… well in my later years and using a phone is about as advanced as I would want to get on a mobile device.

You may be different and so you would need to try one or more out for yourself. There are many free versions available. So you can try a few before taking the plunge into getting a more advanced paid app. Saying that they are only a couple of bucks. But the low price is for the reasons I said. And although they can be practical for simple metronome use. I wouldn’t want to spend too much time programming them for the reasons I mentioned.

The metronome apps I mentioned, especially the Pro Metronome and possibly Perfect Metronome. Could theoretically do the job. You would then need to plug into the monitor system for all band members to hear the metronome. Or listen to it yourself and count everyone into the songs you have programmed.

But in all honesty… I would prefer a more robust solution. But that’s because I am not one of the iPhone or Android “can’t put my phone down” Generation. as I write this, I am viewing the screen on a 65″ Samsung TV. And there’s a good reason for that. I can’t fit an 85″ monitor in my office area.

So let’s move on for now until we uncover something a little more advanced when it comes to click-tracks. Ones that are more suited to live performances.

Online Metronome Apps

There are a lot of different online metronome apps available. And they can be a great tool for helping you keep time while you play. Many of these apps are free, and they all have different features. Some allow you to set different tempos and time signatures. While others have a visual interface that can help you keep track of the beat. There are also some that come with built-in games or challenges to help you stay on tempo.

But as far as live performances are concerned. Keeping an internet connection active would be too much of a gamble. So, use them on live gigs at your own risk.


Transitioning From Metronome To Click Track

Most musicians would agree that a metronome is an essential tool for practicing. And it can be a fantastic addition to a live gigging band if, you can create a simple system to use one on stage. You could, for instance,

  • Create a song list,
  • Work the tempos out in the rehearsal room and then…
  • Plug the metronome from any of the before-mentioned sources into your monitor system. Or if only the drummer is listening to the metronome on the live gig, then…
  • Put headphones on and make sure you can hear the clicks.

After that, when it comes to the first song, set the tempo, press play, and count the rest of the band in. Play 1 or 2 bars to yourself so you can get into the groove of the click. Then click your sticks together to count the rest of the band in… and you’re off. Repeat this for every song. That is, presuming your music has no tempo changes or time signature changes as mentioned.

But, there may come a time when you need to transition from using a metronome. And to instead use a more robust click-track solution. This can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s definitely doable with some research into the tools available. Here are a few possible solutions to help you make the switch:

  1. Drum machines and drum pads. Many electronic drum pads have the ability to record a basic drum beat. Comprising just a click and a tambourine for example and then save these as a song. You would need to check the features and limitations of these pads to make sure it’s up to the job. I recently purchased a Roland SPD-30 Octopad, and although it’s quite advanced. And, a reasonably inexpensive pad. I don’t believe it has the facility to create whole song click tracks. It just has looped phrases, which could be helpful but most not so much. So check the features before you buy.
  2. PC DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Another option is to use a DAW to create the click tracks and then export them to MP3 so you can then use them on the live gig. I am a beginner when it comes to my own DAW which is Cubase Pro. But I have had a little experience using the Superior Drummer 3 software. It’s basically an advanced drum machine on your PC. Within the software, I use the Grid Editor to create click tracks. They include percussion instruments thrown into the mix. With the SPD 3, you have the ability to copy and paste so you can create one bar and then repeat it as many times as you like. This is something like a block editor where you create a music block and then duplicate it as many times as you like. SD 3 also has the ability to change tempo and time signatures during the programming phase. A simple creation/programming process would look something like this:
    1. Write a bar chart for each song, including time, and tempo changes.
    2. Set the tempo of a song and create a cowbell or woodblock track to use as the click.
    3. Begin to build the song click track up by creating blocks in the grid editor. And duplicating them where needed. Versus choruses and middle sections for instance.
    4. Create more blocks as the song track changes.
      Repeat for each new song.
    5. You can then export them as audio files for use on a gig, in the form of a playlist.
  3. Finally, if all else fails you could get yourself a full-blown sequencer. I’m no expert in this area so you would have to do your research to find the best sequencer for your needs.

With some research, programming, and a little practice. You’ll be able to transition from using a metronome to using a robust click-track solution in no time. Like a true pro!

How To Create a Click Track

A click track is a handy tool for any musician who wants to keep a consistent tempo. While practicing, recording, or playing on live gigs. Creating a click track is relatively simple once you have suitable equipment. Something like the SD3 software mentioned above. You can also create click tracks in and DAW providing you have the basic audio editing software. Along with some editing skills.

This is really all about creating a single instrument track. Then using the grid editor to create the click-tracks. Then duplicate, or copy and paste a bar or section of the click track. And any percussion you add to the track you created. Then program the song with as many bars, tempo changes, and time signatures as required. Before all this though, I prefer to create a manuscript file of all the bars and parts within a drum chart. And then program the DAW click track to match the drum part.

Once the track is created you export the file as an MP3 or WAV and you’re ready to go live!

Using a sequencer is pretty much the same process. Using the different editing facilities available to you through your chosen sequencer. Just program the click and then export it as mp3 unless you plan to carry the sequencer with you to live gigs.


Of course, I am speaking here of making a simple click track to keep time. You can add percussion instruments, brass hits, and stringed instruments. As well as anything else you like to make the resulting music sound great.

And don’t forget to add a count into the click tracks. 1 or 2 bars, for instance, to make sure everyone starts at the right place.

Playing Live With A Click Track

Playing with a click track can be strangely liberating. In such a way that it gives you the freedom to focus on other aspects of your performance. Knowing that the click is keeping everything in time you can take the band with you on a journey through time. Plus, it allows you to experiment with new ideas to move the music forward. As a feeling, either driving or pulling everything back slightly. Without worrying about throwing off the rest of the band.

This has the effect of lifting the music. Of course, there is a bit of a learning curve involved if you are new to click tracks. And it can take some practice to get comfortable playing with a click track. But it’s definitely worth the effort and initial expense.

But once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever played without one.

Every Great Track Comes To An End!

While playing live, it’s important to be able to lock in with the groove and feel of the song. Playing with a metronome for 5 minutes before going on stage. Can help you make the transition to the stage with more ease. Not forgetting that playing to a click-track or percussion track facilitates a level of consistency and accuracy that is difficult to achieve without. Without the click-track to keep things precise and everyone locked together.

In this post, we have looked at some of the things you need to take into consideration. And before making the jump from a metronome to click track. And a few options that are available to the live drummer using a metronome on stage. And although we haven’t reviewed a selection of options you should be more aware of what’s available. So don’t wait too long before you take this next step into drumming precision.

Have you had experience playing to a click-track? I would love to hear about your personal experiences. As well as any recommendations you would like to add for the benefit of other drummers. Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

The Drum Coach


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