A drummer is arguably the most important part of a band; if his timing is spot on, chances are that of the rest of the band will also be good. If however he’s out of sync and is playing with poor timing, the rest of the band will probably mess up and it’d be quite visible for the entire audience. This is why veteran and technically proficient bands always have a reliable drummer, because without one, it’d be impossible to perform accurately. Still, it’s easier said than done to keep in time properly, especially being a drummer, considering the level of proficiency and talent it takes to stay in time. This is why a metronome is a drummer’s best friend. Whether you’re practicing at home, recording in the studio, or even playing live, a metronome is indispensable for a drummer, no matter how good or experienced you think you are.
There are digital metronomes out there that can force you to stay in time if you pay attention closely. But some people find using a digital metronome a bit much of a hassle. Fortunately, technology has gone a long way in that regard, and with smartphones came metronome apps, which is basically you walking around with a metronome on your mobile. But to determine the best metronome or the best metronome apps requires a little digging and a lot of trial and error. We’ve done that digging for you and will tell you which ones we found to be the best metronome for drummers out there.
What to look for when buying a metronome
There are several factors to consider when buying a metronome to keep your drum beats on time. The first point you need to consider in a metronome is how it is powered. Now, a modern drum metronome will be most likely powered by a battery, which is not a bad thing per se. In comparison to the traditional hand powered mechanical metronomes, a battery powered one serves more function as you can use it at high volumes, as opposed to the mechanical one which can be inaudible if you play loudly. You need to determine what function you need the metronome for: is it high intensity/volume training, in which case get a battery powered one, or a low key one, where a mechanical one that doesn’t require a battery would do the trick?
Options are another thing to consider when looking for that best metronome out there. Some come with a variety of options that will be important depending on your level as a drummer and how proficient you are with the instrument. Some metronomes will have several options for beats, others you can program, some metronomes will train you, and there are even a few out there where you could import your own samples for mixing and recording. So it’s important to be well aware of your level and which metronome would best suit your needs.
Mountability is another thing you’ll want to consider if you’re a drummer often performing live in concerts. Plenty of those drummers use an electronic metronome on stage to help them keep a steady beat, and you’ll need a metronome that can be mounted on the kit if that’s the case. So size and mountability are essential features to consider if you’re going to be using a metronome on stage.
After digging deep and reviewing several metronomes, these are the best metronomes for both amateur and professional drummers, as well as metronome apps.
Most musicians will have heard of the Korg MA-1, and most reviews put it as the number one metronome for drummers. The reason why this particular metronome gets high praise is its variety of options and advantages over other ones. For starters, it’s small, compact, and quite portable, which is a very important quality in a metronome for a drummer who often tours on the road. You don’t want to find yourself stuck with a huge electronic metronome that needs a trunk of a car to hold it; the Korg MA-1 can fit into the palms of your hands and just as easily in your pockets. Its price is also very good, ranging from 20 to 30 dollars.
Though it has a simple design, the Korg MA-1 packs plenty of features. It has swing eighth notes, tap tempo, a headphone jack, adjustable speed, and volume control. Percussionists will also love the Korg’s reference pitch option, which would help them tune the timpani, as well as a variety of other instruments too. The one main disadvantage of the Korg MA-1 though is the fact that it is not mountable.
The Korg TM50BK is another electronic metronome that comes with a variety of features. It’s both a metronome and a guitar tuner, and it can actually access both features simultaneously, giving it an edge over several other options in the market. This one also has an excellent LCD display, with backlit options, making it quite easy on the eyes and with a better overall display than the MA-1.
The Boss DB-90 is considered to be one of the most advanced and sophisticated metronomes on the market today, for the variety of options it provides. One of the most important feature of the Boss electronic metronome is the fact that it gives you unparalleled ability to control the beats; there are separate volume controls for different beats, which means you can learn how to play various beats in comparison to one another. If you’re more into the composition side of music, there’s even the option to add and record your own beats for future usage.
The Boss DB-90 is also extremely intelligent in the fact that you can program an entire song with various beats and tempo changes in order to help you practice the song. The metronome also comes with a built in rhythm coach to help you with your time signatures.
The final verdict in terms of overall functions and options as well as value for money has to be the Korg MA-1, while the Boss DB-90 has far more sophisticated options –– which you might not even need so beware of needlessly buying it –– but it comes at the hefty price of $140.
While metronome applications don’t serve as much functions and are not as accurate as a digital one, they do serve their purpose and can very well be used by both amateur and professional drummers alike. Finding the best metronome app however can be a bit challenging, so this is a head start.
This drum metronome app is specifically designed to focus on rhythm and improving a drummer’s flow and consistency.
As the name would imply, Tempo is another metronome app geared towards drummers, which features 30 time signature variations and 6 rhythm patterns. More importantly, it’s known to help drummers keep a beat and practice their tempo.
This is another free mobile metronome application that comes with a variety of tempo options to help a drummer reach a speed between 10 and 230 BPM.
Why do you need a metronome?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself as a drummer before buying a drum metronome. The answer to that question will determine what amount of money you need to pay and what options are a must in your metronome. Are you an amateur just looking for something to help you keep a steady time while rocking to your favorite tunes? Or are you a professional drummer that requires a sophisticated metronome for complex tunes and compositions? The answers to those questions will let you know which one you need to buy.