Drummers can have a love/hate relationship with metronomes. Many drummers, especially beginners, struggle to play in time with a metronome, causing a lot of frustration.
However, metronomes are necessary when it comes to music and learning to keep time. If you can play comfortably in time with a metronome, then you can keep a band in time with your drumming. It’s something all drummers have to practice with. A lot of drummers use metronomes even in live situations.
So, here is my list of the best metronomes for drummers.
Best Drummers' Metronomes for Time-Keeping
1. Boss DB-90
The Boss DB-90 Dr. Beat has been one of the most popular metronomes over the past two decades. It’s a compact, lightweight time-keeping device that is packed with useful functions.
This metronome is extremely loud, allowing you to play drums without having to plug headphones into it. It has 4 different click sounds to choose from with one of them being a human voice.
The human voice counting to 4 is a great practice option that a lot of metronomes don’t have. It’s especially great for beginners, letting them internalize quarter note beats.
The layout of this metronome looks a bit complicated. However, it’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it and will only take a few minutes to figure out how to use.
It has a rhythm coach function that helps you practice your time-keeping skills. The metronome has a built-in microphone that records the drums and checks if they’re in time with the click.
The Boss DB-90 is one of the most expensive metronomes out there. It’s great for live gigging and home practice, having features that benefit both situations. It’s a great investment if you’re willing to spend the money.
Tama is one of the leading drum manufacturing companies. This tells you that a metronome that they’ve created is going to be a great option for drummers. The RW200 Rhythm Watch is a high-quality time-keeping device that is great for live gigging situations.
It has 2 click sounds to choose from with separate volume control of each beat. This allows you to create different subdivisions by having some beats louder than others. The freedom of volume control gives a lot of room for expression and will cater to many different song tempos and phrases.
The main selling point of this metronome is its ability to store 30 different tempo settings. This allows you to create setlists for gigs that you can seamlessly switch between when playing live.
The simple layout of the metronome makes it easy to use with little room for error in a stressful live situation.
Tama sells a separate stand that lets you mount the RW200 onto your drums, further adding to the ease-of-use.
This metronome is very loud. You’ll be able to hear it while practicing even if you’re wearing ear protection.
3. Korg KDM-3
The Korg KDM-3 is a simple device that lends its design appearance from the traditional mechanical metronomes that our old music teachers used to have on top of their pianos. It’s an affordable metronome that has some basic features.
The selling point of the KDM-3 is its simplicity. It has 8 different click sounds, 19 beat patterns, and a basic timer feature. The different click sounds are very crisp and clear, with each one having a distinct tone on beat 1.
Some people will find certain click sounds harsher on their ears than others, making the variety of options a great feature of the KDM-3.
It has a tap function that allows you to tap in a tempo. This is great for when you want to practice a song part without knowing exactly how fast it is.
The one downside to this metronome is the on/off switch. It’s quite small and requires a fair bit of pressure to use. This is a minor inconvenience and may not even bother a lot of people.
Overall, the Korg KDM-3 is a great affordable option for someone who wants a simple metronome to use in their home practice space.
The RW30 Rhythm Watch takes all of the design qualities of the RW200 and compresses it into a smaller more affordable light version. The RW30 is a small metronome that is very portable and has a few useful click functions that are great for practicing.
It has a large stop/start button along with a tempo dial that is smooth and easy to use. Next to the tempo dial is a tap tempo button which allows you to listen to something and figure out the tempo by tapping it down.
The RW30 has 2 different sound options which are high and low pitched clicks. Beat 1 of a bar will always be a higher-pitched click, allowing you to know exactly where you are in the bar when playing along with the metronome.
A unique thing about the RW30 is the ability to have several different time signatures. This seems like a useful function that all metronomes should have. However, most physical metronomes don’t have it, meaning you have to use a metronome app to practice along with complicated time signatures.
The RW30 is very small and would work best as a portable metronome to carry around with you. It even has a clip at the back which enables you to mount it onto stands or your pants pockets. Many drummers will use this metronome when playing on a practice pad.
The Soundbrenner Pulse is an innovative metronome design that allows you to feel the pulse instead of hearing it. It comes in the form of a watch that you can strap around your wrist or ankle. It produces short vibrations instead of sonic clicks.
This device is great for drummers since rhythm is about feeling a pulse and locking in with it. It develops your inner rhythmic ability by letting you feel grooves along with a pulse that comes from your wrist or ankle.
The device is fairly simple to use. It has a screen that you can tap in a tempo and then it will start vibrating that tempo. That’s about it when it comes to the physical metronome that is strapped to you.
You can download an app on your phone that gives you several more metronome controls. The app allows you to change subdivisions and time signatures.
This metronome is a great alternative to the constant pining of a standard metronome. The small vibrations take a bit of getting used to. Once you’re accustomed to them, you won’t look back.
There can sometimes be a bit of a delay between the device and the app, causing a skipped beat or two. It’s nothing groundbreaking though, and you should still be able to stay in time.
Soundbrenner has produced a great product here. It’s a good investment to look into and will be seriously beneficial to drummers of all levels.
Physical Metronome vs Phone App
The world of smartphones and tablets has made it possible to have a metronome with you wherever you go. Metronome apps certainly make it easy to have a quick practice session.
However, they don’t offer as much as physical metronomes. Just think of how your smartphone is designed to do a million things while a physical metronome is designed to do just one thing and that is keeping time.
Physical metronomes are also designed to work in live band situations. They can be plugged in for the whole band to hear. They can also help in running live tracks, aiding in the whole setlist performance.
Some smartphone apps can do this, but there’s a lot of room for error when it comes to using a phone. This is why a physical metronome will always be a safer option.
In regards to practicing, it’s always good to practice without any distractions, and a phone is one of the biggest distractions. It would be better to have a physical metronome next to your kit that you could just plug some headphones into.
Keeping time is your main job as a drummer. You could play the most intricate things and still not be hired for a gig if you can’t keep time. This makes the metronome your best friend. The click should blend seamlessly into your playing, allowing you to create solid grooves and fills.
So, get yourself a great metronome and start practicing.