Mastering and advancement of an instrument can be a great challenge. To do this all you need is a lot of practice and discipline. It is therefore very important that the exercises you do and the practice itself is effective (work smarter, not harder).
As an experienced musician and guitar instructor with many years of playing under my belt, I have built an arsenal of methods for musicians from every level to learn how to use their instrument the fastest and most effective way.
Music is in constant movement so timing and rhythm are everything. Without them, even the simplest song or composition cannot be played.
So it is crucial for you to learn timing and master it. The fastest way to do this and get to the next level and is with the use of a metronome. It improves timing and maintains and controls the pace.
This instrument is best known to musicians who come from formal music education. However, it is equally important for all musicians regardless of their method or training to be well acquainted with the metronome and its importance.
What is a metronome?
The metronome is a device that emits sound at equal intervals set by the user. This timing pulse is measured in BPM – beats per minute.
Besides the sounds, the metronome can also visually divide the time. There are two ways – with a swinging pendulum if it’s mechanical or lightning signals if the metronome is digital.
In addition to these two types of metronome, there are apps that perform the same function.
Now we’ll look at some of them to see what suits you best.
Donner Mechanical Metronome DPM-1
This metronome is an old school model.
It has a classic look in the shape of a pyramid with a cover over the pendulum.
On the inside under the lid in the middle, there are numerals for which the pace of metronome is set from 40 BPM to 208 BPM.
You can also adjust the meter (4/4, 5/4, 3/4 ) so the metronome will make a bell sound when the next downbeat starts.
- Accurate timing
- Easy to use
- Different meter adjusting
- No batteries or any other kind of powering
- Too big
- Not compact
- The range in bpm is limited to 208 max
Walmeck Mini Metronome
The name itself tells you the difference between this and the previous Donner Metronome.
This one is very elegant and pretty portable thanks to its size.
It has an upswing mechanism with a swing attached on the middle.
This may not be the most accurate mechanical metronome but it will still do the job.
Its size and design make it rather unstable when it is on an uneven surface especially when moving the swing.
As well as the previous model, this metronome works without batteries.
- Simple and easy to use
- Small in size and portable
- Loud with clear sound
- No batteries needed
- Not stable
- Not the most accurate metronome out there
- No meter measuring
- Limited range
MT-100 METRONOME & TUNER
This is a digital metronome and tuner which is great for almost any string instrument.
It has a big and bright display and it’s small, portable and fairly easy to use (except if you are not really into digital stuff).
Most of the digital metronomes are perfectly accurate and this is the case for the MT-100 as well.
But it’s not really loud so it’s not the best solution for acoustic instruments (piano, double bass, wind instruments) or in an outdoor environment.
- Really accurate
- Small and portable
- It’s also a tuner and a tone generator
- Not loud enough for bigger acoustic instruments
- Need batteries
This is another digital metronome, tuner and sound generator specially designed for wind instruments.
There are many options for different meter, tempo, rhythm and beat styles.
It has a large, bright and transparent display.
It also has the option for output, which can be used for plugging in your headphones to practice using the metronome in a quiet room.
Besides the metronome, this item is also good as a tuner.
- Small and easy portable
- Tuner and sound generator
- Has different meter and wide range of BPM
- Works on batteries
Dreokee Drummer Training Pad
This metronome is made for drummers and has three functions – it can work as a metronome, of course, but also testing the tempo of your tapping and testing your tapping limit in a limited time.
It has a pad that serves for tapping with the drumsticks, so it is not very loud, and the sound released by the metronome itself does not have to be very loud. This is definitely a plus when practicing.
This metronome also has the option of setting beats per bar and clicks per beat in different rhythmic figures.
The headset option is also very good in case you want to be quieter or when practicing in a loud room so that you can avoid distraction.
- Simple and easy to use
- Big display
- Different setting beats per bar and clicks per beat
- Earphones included
- Works on batteries
- Bigger than other types of metronome
How to use the metronome?
The proper use of a metronome is arguably more important than owning one.
With mechanical metronomes, you initially set the tempo by moving the sliding weight on the pendulum up or down. The scale starts at 40 BPM and ends up at 208 BPM.
For all this to work, the mechanism itself needs to be wind up through the winding key.
Unlike mechanical, digital metronomes are easier to use but not loud enough. However, if the metronome is used in a quiet room then the volume does not make much difference, except maybe if you use it while playing larger acoustic instruments like drums or piano.
A good digital metronome should have a pace-setting (below 40 and above 208-300 is recommended) by dialing a number or tap tempo option. A very useful thing is setting the beats per bar and clicks per beat. This gives you the option of experimenting on different meters and rhythm figures.
Some extra perks can make your practice more effective. Some metronomes can have a timer so you know when your exercise or composition ends or they can have a tempo trainer if you want to slow down or accelerate the BPM gradually.
Best metronomes for gutarists
The best selection of metronomes for guitarists is amongst the digital metronomes. They are accurate, have more options for practicing and creating complex rhythmic figures and are small enough to be able to carry them in your guitar suitcase.
Best metronomes for drummers
The best metronome option for drummers are the metronomes created specifically for this type of instrument. These are digital and have a drum pad. They also offer options for setting beats per bar and clicks per beat which are more than welcomed by drummers. Most of them have a headphone option for you to practice without disturbing the neighbors.
In case you need a metronome for acoustic drums then the standard metronome is a better option. It is louder, smaller and portable.
Best metronomes for pianists
For piano players, the best solution is a mechanical metronome. Its size is not important if you are at home at your piano. However, digital metronomes are always a valid option because of its size and the advantages it has before the mechanical metronomes.
The metronome is a key item without which you can not become a good musician.
So take a look at the tips, recommendations, and examples from above and choose the right metronome for you.