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Every serious musician should have a metronome.
A metronome is a vital tool for practicing, especially as one begins to work on their sense of time and rhythm. Further, it can be used to increase one’s speed on their instrument.
If you know you’re going to be playing gigs and recording in the studio, especially in a professional capacity, you should know how to play in time with a metronome.
But what metronome should you get? In this guide, we’ve highlighted the best metronomes for guitar, drummers, piano and other instruments.
Best Metronome For Professional Musicians: BOSS DB-90 Metronome
BOSS is a brand name synonymous with guitar. And, the DB-90 could be a great addition to any guitarist’s rig, though it could just as easily be used by other instrumentalists too.
As you may be able to tell from its appearance, this is a metronome with plenty of features – maybe more than some players would ever need.
The Dr. Beat comes with quality sounds and drum patterns, a rhythm coach function and an onboard mic, a reference-tone function for tuning, an instrument input, MIDI input and more.
If you just need to pick up and go, this is not your metronome. But if you like working with more realistic beats than just metronome ticks, you’re going to love it.
Many seem to think that the DB-90 should not be used with headphones.
But if you take care of the BOSS, you could have a lot of fun with it.
Best Metronome For Casual Musicians: Korg TM60BK Tuner Metronome
The Korg TM-60 is a good catch-all solution for most, because it’s affordable, easy to use and reliable.
This metronome also acts as a tuner, and you can use both functions simultaneously. Some instrumentalists may not find this feature helpful, but most string players would.
The TM-60 supports a variety of instruments, and it has twice the battery life over previous models. That’s good to know, because you don’t want to be constantly swapping out batteries as you’re practicing along to your metronome.
This metronome will give you anywhere from 30 to 252bpm and it comes with three types of tempo settings and 15 rhythm variations.
It even has memory backup and auto power off functions.
It’s not fancy. It’s not expensive. It’s not elaborate. But the Korg digital metronome does what it’s supposed to do, making it a worthy addition to this list.
JSH Digital Metronome Clip-On Metronome Suitable For Piano, Violin, Guitar, Drum
A simple, compact, low-cost clip-on metronome that string players are sure to appreciate. The controls don’t get much easier than this.
This unit comes in Black and White and will give you a range of 30 to 280bpm. You can plug in headphones or earbuds too.
Volume adjustment is built in, but the metronome will not remember your settings after you’ve turned it off.
You wouldn’t want to clip this unit onto the headstock of an instrument, as it would likely break.
But the clip-on category of digital metronomes is worth exploring, and it’s hard to argue with the price of the JSH.
KLIQ MetroPitch – Metronome Tuner For All Instruments – With Guitar, Bass, Violin, Ukulele And Chromatic Tuning Modes
Get it in Black, Blue or Red. The KLIQ MetroPitch is sleek, affordable, easy to use and multi-purpose.
The MetroPitch is a tuner, metronome and tone generator that fits into your pants pocket. It even comes with a carrying case.
The tuner has various tuning modes, transposition settings and pitch calibration.
The metronome goes from 30 to 250bpm and it also has tap tempo, various beats and rhythm patterns.
In addition to that, the three-year manufacturer warranty is a decent deal.
KLIQ has done a lot right with this device. But some users have pointed out that its metronome is not its chief strong suit. Still, if you’re on a budget, it’s a good option.
Long Beach Music Digital Metronome + Pitch Generator + Rhythm & Beats For Musicians, Piano, Violin, Guitar
For those who just can’t decide whether to get a digital or mechanical metronome, you’ll be glad to know the Long Beach Music metronome is a hybrid.
This easy to use compact unit is powered with three AAA batteries and produces a beeping sound. The middle knob can be adjust tempo, while the knobs on the left and right can be used to change rhythm and beats.
There are six beat options and three tones for accent beats (chime, drum and wood block). It also has seven rhythm patterns, including duplets, triplets, quadruplets as well as triplets and quadruplets with inner beats omitted.
Unlike a mechanical metronome, however, the pendulum does not swing, just in case you were wondering.
For those who want a metronome that looks traditional but acts modern, the Long Beach Music is worth a look.
Music Treasures Co. MR500 Matrix Quartz Metronome
The MR500 comes with an easy-to-use dial, a 40 to 208bpm range, LED display and headphone out. It looks a little different than other products on this list but its functions are basically the same. The main difference being that you would use the dial to adjust tempo.
The MR500 has all around positive reviews, gives you plenty of volume and is quite economical to boot.
I knew a drummer who used to use a metronome like this one, so it could be a good choice for drummers. It can be hard to find metronomes that are loud enough to keep up with the sound of your drums, but that’s where the headphone out should come in handy.
The Music Treasures Co. metronome is a solid choice for just about any instrumentalist.
Wittner 834 Taktell Piccolo Metronome
The Wittner 834 is a simplistic, compact analog/mechanical metronome with plastic casing. It’s available in Black, Ruby and Mahogany-Brown.
This highly-rated product is not durable. But it can last a long time if you take good care of it. My recommendation would be to keep it in your practice room and not move it from there.
It’s a simple metronome perfect for piano. That’s about all there is to it. Check out the Wittner if you need a no-nonsense analog metronome.
YAMAHA MP-90BK Metronome
The MP-90BK is a simple, analog metronome with plenty of volume. That’s good news for piano, string and maybe even woodwind or brass players.
The Yamaha comes in Black, Ivory or Pink, which is fun. It’s a sleek looking metronome that’s sure to look nice no matter what environment it’s placed in.
It has a 40 to 208bpm tempo range, which is plenty for most players. But if you need to go faster, for whatever reason, you might consider going with another metronome on this list.
The Yamaha has many satisfied customers. Have a look for yourself and see if it’s the right metronome for you.
Seiko Tuner SQ200
Seiko is another known name in the metronome space.
Now, don’t be fooled by the name – the SQ200 is just as much a metronome as it is a tuner.
This multi-function digital metronome is user friendly, comes with a wide tempo range (it goes up to 300bpm) and monitor-speaker function, three-channel setting memory and a prop-up stand.
Most customers have been thoroughly happy with the Seiko. Unless you’re an advanced player looking to play along with sophisticated rhythmic patterns, this metronome should be more than enough to keep you busy.
TAMA RW200 Rhythm Watch – Drummer’s Metronome
The RW200 is the only metronome on this list that was built with drummers in mind. And, TAMA is a brand that should be familiar especially to drummers.
But to be honest, drummers aren’t the only ones who can use this product, nor are they the most satisfied.
Before I get to that, let’s look at the features. The RW200 comes with a backlit display, 30 memory settings, nine beat divisions, 35 to 250bpm tempo range and beat division volume controls.
Customer reviews are generally good but a little lukewarm. Some users would have preferred the unit come with a human voice for counting, but it doesn’t.
It’s good, but you might expect a little more for the price. Either way, the TAMA might be what you’ve been looking for, even if you’re not a drummer.
Korg KDM-2 True Tone Advanced Digital Metronome
If you like Korg but want a metronome that’s going to give you a little more oomph, you might want to check out the KDM-2.
This unit gives you 30 to 252bpm, 19 beat patterns, three PCM sound and a tap tempo control. Tap tempo is great for all those times you’re not sure what speed you’re playing at but need to quickly enter it into the metronome.
The KDM-2 also has improved sound, a headphone output, a large LCD screen and long battery life. Korg promises 120 continuous hours at 120bpm. It even has memory backup.
Many customers have been happy with this metronome, though some indicate that changing tempos is more challenging than it should be.
It might come with more features than you need – maybe not. But the Korg could be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
What Should I Look For In A Metronome?
You’re probably starting to get the sense that there are a variety of metronomes out there.
But so long as it ticks in time and you can hear it over your instrument, the rest doesn’t matter a whole lot.
Still, you might be undecided as to what metronome to get. So, here are a few criteria worth evaluating when you’re looking to buy a metronome.
Digital Or Analog?
Many piano players and instructors seem to rely more on analog metronomes as opposed to digital ones. I assume that’s the case for most orchestral players too.
But regardless of whether it’s digital or analog, it’s essentially made to do the same thing.
It’s just that you can do a little more with digital technology, such as giving the device a human voice (i.e. one that counts “one, two, three, four” out loud).
If you’re not looking for anything fancy, an analog metronome will do just fine.
I happen to like digital metronomes, not because I need an assortment of features, but mostly because they are compact and portable. They can easily fit into the front pocket of a gig bag.
So, in large part, it’s going to come down to preference. Maybe you like digital. Maybe you like analog. It’s not a big deal.
Size, Shape, Compactness?
While most analog metronomes maintain a similar appearance and functionality, digital metronomes can be all over the place.
To be fair, analog metronomes can be small, medium or large. If you intend to keep it at home in your practice or lesson room, size probably won’t be a major concern for you.
Meanwhile, digital metronomes take many sizes and shapes. But most are relatively compact and portable, so that’s not a concern.
So, size, shape and compactness probably won’t be a major buying factor. Just be mindful of the device’s intended use and you should be fine.
A metronome’s primary function is to create a steady beat at a designated tempo. The tempo can be adjusted by the user.
Aside from that, there isn’t much to a metronome, especially an analog one. A digital unit, of course, may come with additional features.
Some digital metronomes are also tuners. Some come with drum machine style patterns. Some have multiple channels.
At the end of the day, there are only so many features you can add to a metronome.
Most of the time, it just comes down to ease of use and whether you like the sound it produces.
So, if anything, have a listen to different metronomes and compare them for yourself.
Since you might play with a metronome for long hours, you’re probably going to want a sound you can tolerate for longer.
Although price can vary quite a bit from one unit to another (anywhere from $10 or less up to $300 and up), most of the time, purchasing a metronome should not break the bank.
I can’t see budget being a huge consideration unless you don’t have much money, or don’t want to spend much on a metronome, which is fair.
Once you’re passed the $150 mark, you’re generally paying for the materials the unit is made of, or the additional features it includes, like a hygrometer meter.
There’s nothing wrong with having a nicer metronome, such as one made with hardwoods. If that’s what you want, go for it.
But otherwise, it’s certainly not going to cost you an arm and a leg.
Digital Or Analog? What’s My Best Bet?
In most regards, digital or analog isn’t going to make a big difference.
Analog metronomes can produce quite a bit of sound, but so can digital metronomes.
There probably won’t be much difference in terms of the tempos analog and digital metronomes can handle either.
Price points are also similar, though some digital metronomes are cheaper.
Where it’s going to make the biggest difference is likely with a drummer. A drummer needs a metronome that’s loud enough that they can hear it over their own playing.
But as a pianist or guitarist, it doesn’t matter too much. You can use whichever type of metronome you prefer.
Some digital metronomes have outputs, meaning you can either use them with headphones, or potentially with an external speaker. That could be a bit of an advantage for some instrumentalists.
And, depending on the digital metronome you use, you’ll have more tempo, sound and rhythm variations to choose from.
The only other factor that might come into play is portability and durability.
Analog metronomes tend to be less portable than digital ones, though they can be more durable.
So, there aren’t any huge differences between the two, but based on what I’ve just shared with you, you should be able to find a metronome that’s right for you.
How Do I Use A Metronome To Improve My Rhythm & Timing?
There isn’t necessarily anything complicated about a metronome or its use, but if you’re still new to music and you’re not used to playing at a specific tempo, you could easily get confused.
A metronome will basically “click”, in quarter notes, at whatever tempo you set it to. And, generally it will be in 4/4 time though depending on the metronome you can set it to a different time signature too.
But there are plenty of rhythmic patterns you can play over a 4/4 beat. There might not be an infinite number of rhythmic possibilities, but it’s up there.
Musical genres like funk and reggae tend to use a lot of syncopation, so it can be difficult to figure out how to play a funk or reggae riff along to a click track.
So, before you get carried away trying to play complex, syncopated rhythms, the best idea might be to play one note per beat.
That’s right, to get started, you’re just going to play quarter notes in time with the metronome’s clicking.
That should begin to give you a better sense of how to incorporate a metronome into your practice routine.
From there, you can try eighth notes. That’s a little harder, because you need to count in the spaces in between each beat, like so:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
But you can also speed your metronome up to double the original tempo and just play on every beat too.
Anyway, to play eighth notes, you’d play on the beat well as on the “&” in between each beat.
Speaking of counting, that’s another good way to improve your rhythm and timing. Try counting along to your metronome, out loud. Try quarter notes and then eighth notes.
Start simply and then slowly introduce more interesting rhythmic patterns. That should help you get into the groove.
How Can I Stay In Time Without The Use Of A Metronome?
If there’s no one holding them accountable, musicians either tend to speed up or slow down rather naturally.
Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.
For instance, a band that’s playing together is still a band playing together, regardless of how the tempo shifts. If the band sounds tight, it’s fine.
If you’re speeding up or slowing down while everyone else is playing, you’re either making a deliberate attempt to get the rest of the band to follow you, or you’re not being mindful of the tempo.
The worst offender is someone who’s not aware of the tempo, because their playing is going to be all over the place, and at no point is it going to lock in with the band long enough to be considered steady.
But let’s say you’re doing everything in your power to stay on time and you’re still having trouble.
The reality is that it can take a long time to develop a good sense of rhythm.
If you stay at it and keep practicing, jamming, rehearsing, recording and performing, in time you’ll be able to keep a relatively steady rhythm without the help of a metronome.
But don’t expect to get there overnight. It might take years. It might take over a decade.
Also note that if you’re having trouble playing in time, your technique might not be up to snuff yet.
I know it’s not fun to think about how much time you’ve already spent practicing, only to find you’re not as far along as you thought you were.
But if you can’t play the song at every tempo yet, it means you still need to spend some time practicing. Repetition is your friend.
Is It Counterproductive To Practice With A Metronome?
This is an interesting question. I imagine it’s coming from someone who’s afraid of losing a sense of soul and that intangible quality of feel in their playing.
I tend to think of soul as being separate from rhythm. I don’t think you can lose soul by working on your timing. But you can’t gain it either.
I do know players who are quite methodical in their approach and don’t have much soul in their playing. I don’t think it has anything to do with the way they approach their instrument mind you.
I also don’t know how to teach soul. I think it comes from a genuine passion for music and your instrument than it does from your technique.
So, I can’t see how practicing with a metronome would ever be counterproductive. Music is rhythmic, so even your lead licks and solos need to fit the established context.
If you’re a lead player or vocalist, you’re going to be a little freer in terms of what you can do rhythmically, but for it to be tasteful, it still needs to work with the song’s beat.
Is It Better To Practice With A Metronome Or Drum Track?
I’m a little split on this.
I used to practice with just drum tracks, which meant that I couldn’t record without a drum track either. I had trouble keeping time with just a metronome.
A metronome usually just ticks on beats one, two, three and four.
But a drummer would fill in more of that space with eighth-note clicks on the hi-hat, as example, in addition to the kick on beats one and three and the snare on beats two and four.
So, for me, it was just easier to play with a drum track compared to a simple click track.
What I’m getting at is that it’s probably worth practicing with both.
If you’re recording in the studio, chances are you’ll prioritize recording the drum tracks over anything else.
So, if you’re not the drummer, by the time you’re ready to record your part, there’s already a strong rhythmic backing.
But if you’re going to record an acoustic track with no drums, you’re going to need to be able to play to a click track.
Likewise, if you’re the drummer, you better be able to play with a click.
So, to me, both are valuable skills, but I find playing with a drum track is a lot more fun.
Is It Helpful To Use A Metronome While Studying An Instrument?
In a general sense, it is.
But it’s not helpful or even necessary 100% of the time.
It’s good to be intentional about using a metronome when learning new scales or riffs. This will help you perfect your technique and accuracy.
Some musicians, like John 5, use a metronome as a songwriting tool. They get a beat going, and just jam along to come up with cool riffs.
But there’s no need to practice with a metronome all the time, and as you continue to practice, your ability to play in time should keep getting better.
And, let’s not forget – rhythm represents an important aspect of music. Even if you’re not aware of the rhythm, you’re always playing rhythmically.
What Type Of Instrumentalist Should Use A Metronome?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a saxophonist, ukulele player, banjo player or even a digeridoo player. Everyone can benefit from working on their timing and rhythm.
I could see it being less useful for some instrumentalists, especially those who play drone and lead instruments or any that float above the others.
But rhythm is still going to be present in every song you play. It’s ever-present.
And, metronomes are basically all the same regardless of what instrument you play. Assuming the metronome produces enough volume, you should be able to play along with it.
Are There Any Metronomes That Can Accurately Guess What Tempo I’m Playing At?
No, but many DAWs, pedals and some metronomes feature tap tempo. Tap tempo allows you to set your device at a tempo that you manually tap out.
So, to get your drum machine or metronome to go at your preferred tempo, you’d simply tap out the beat at the speed you want it to click at.
If you’re using a DAW, that will likely mean using your mouse to click out your desired tempo.
If you’re using a pedal, you’ll need to tap out the tempo with your foot.
Either way, tap tempo can be a convenient function.
You will sometimes see it on guitar pedals too, but keep in mind if you’re using an effects pedal, this function would be used to create the tempo you want for the effect.
Do Professionals Record With Metronomes?
Some artists and bands, in some situations, opt to record without a metronome. But this is rare.
Sometimes it’s not possible to capture a certain energy without recording live off the floor.
And, in a situation like that, metronomes are sometimes abandoned completely.
At other times, songs just sound better when they’re allowed to flow how they will. Some songs don’t even work with a strict rhythmic pattern behind them.
Metronomes are not required for live recordings either, but sometimes they are used.
Nevertheless, a metronome is almost always used for multi-track recording, which represents most recordings these days.
And, so far as pop music is concerned, it’s almost always locked in at a steady tempo because the drums are made using a drum machine, which is set to a specific tempo.
Do Singers Use Metronomes?
Certainly, a singer may use a metronome from time to time, but not all the time.
Singers will either do exercises without any accompaniment or sing along to a live or pre-recorded track.
Vocals could be considered a type of lead instrument, making them more fluid in the context of music.
That doesn’t mean vocals don’t fall out of time.
But in the studio, you can drag and drop your vocals until you’re happy with where they’re sitting.
On stage, there’s not much you can do to fix a part that goes out of time, but you can sometimes cover up your mistakes in the moment by ending the phrase early or extending it longer than it normally goes.
I’m sure there are some singers that sing along to a click track (in addition to other instruments in the mix) in the studio. But it’s not a requirement by any means.
Rhythm is still important for singers to have a firm grasp of. But since vocals often float above the mix, it isn’t always necessary to perfect rhythmic patterns as a singer.
Does It Matter What Metronome I Use For What Instrument?
At first glance, it may appear as though certain metronomes are better for certain instruments, but for the most part, it doesn’t matter.
A metronome is a device that produces a sound at a set tempo. In that sense, all metronomes are alike.
A guitarist does not need a metronome that clicks or sounds a certain way, nor does a pianist need a metronome that looks a certain way.
Any musician can use any type of metronome and it’s not going to affect the outcome in any tangible way.
If the volume of your instrument competes with your metronome’s, that’s certainly something to be mindful of. You should choose a metronome that has plenty of headroom.
Drums tend to be quite a bit louder than other instruments, so drummers may require a louder metronome.
Again, certain instrumentalists may be more familiar with, or prefer, a specific type of metronome.
Aside from that, it doesn’t matter. You can use any metronome you like with your instrument.
Are There Any Metronome Apps I Can Use?
Most metronomes are compact enough that you can take them just about anywhere you go.
But maybe you don’t want to put any money into a metronome.
Or, maybe you’d prefer to carry fewer pieces of gear with you while you’re on the road.
The good news is you can also download a metronome app for your smartphone. That way, you’ll have it with you wherever you go.
Whether you’re using an Android phone or iPhone, I’d recommend checking out The Metronome by Soundbrenner. You probably can’t go wrong with it.
Although I do have a digital metronome, most of the time I find myself using a click track (on a DAW) or a metronome app.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference, so give different metronomes a try and see what you like.
How Can I Build Speed On My Instrument Using A Metronome?
Regardless of what instrument you play, a metronome can help you build your speed.
The process is incredibly simple. But if you aren’t the patient type, you might struggle with it.
If you’re the type of person that has trouble focusing, you should try practicing with a metronome for 10- to 15-minute stretches and move onto something else to keep your practice sessions varied.
Anyway, like I said, there’s nothing mysterious about the process.
Pick a scale, riff, lick or solo you’re working on and start at a slow to moderate tempo, like 80 to 100bpm (unless you’re working your way up to 100bpm, in which case, start slower).
Then, play the exercise in time with the metronome. Keep repeating the exercise until you’ve played it with 100% accuracy and precision.
Then, increase the speed by 5bpm and do the same.
This will require mindfulness and patience. I would love to say, “you will know when you’ve played it perfectly.” Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed too many absent minded instrumentalists for this to be true.
You need to pay attention to what you’re doing. You need to ensure your technique is right.
If in doubt, get feedback from a qualified instructor. If your technique is off and you’re not keeping time, they will likely have you start all over, with good technique, at a slower tempo.
Once you’ve mastered 105bpm, try 110bpm. Then, go up to 115bmp and 120bpm. You get the idea.
Are There Different Types Of Metronomes?
In a general sense, there are digital and mechanical/analog metronomes.
And, of course, under both categories there are metronomes of varying sizes, colors, shapes and designs, made of different materials.
Analog metronomes tend not to come with many features.
Meanwhile, some digital metronomes come with drum machine-like features.
At the end of the day, all metronomes were built for the same purpose.
So, the answer to this question is “yes” and “no”.
Technically, there are different types of metronomes, and some come with different features, but at core, they’re all designed to do the same thing.
Can Metronomes Be Used For Live Performance?
Some drummers use metronomes before a song starts so they know what tempo to play it at.
As I mentioned earlier, bands tend to be quite dependent on drummers to hold down the rhythm for the rest of the band.
Of course, any drummer worth her salt should develop a good internal clock.
But metronomes, or more specifically click tracks, are used in many live situations.
I used to play in a church that used a click track for their worship set. Everyone had their own in-ear monitors.
The great thing about in-ear monitors is that you can adjust what you want to hear in your mix and at what volume.
Want more guitar? No problem – you can have the guitar boosted. Wish the drums were quieter? All good – that can be changed in the mix too.
For the worship set, the click was used to keep everyone on track. There were no production elements we were looking to synchronize with.
But many bands utilizing video as part of their live performance often use click tracks. That’s to ensure the music syncs up with the video.
This is where things can begin to get kind of complex and it requires some practice to get used to playing in time with something like video.
So, yes, metronomes can and are used for live performance, but more commonly in the form of a click track.
Conclusion – Best Metronomes For Pianists, Drummers & Guitarists
It might seem like there’s a lot to think about when it comes to purchasing a metronome, but at the end of the day, they are all the same with minor variations in features.
There are a few factors to think about when purchasing, but they aren’t significant by any means. Portability, volume and added functionality is all there is to think about.
Having a metronome as a musician is a good idea. You won’t use it all the time, nor do you need to. It’s just a nice tool to have when you’re practicing.