A metronome is a timing device that clicks, or beeps a steady rhythm and allows a musician to practice keeping a steady tempo and playing accurate rhythms. “Beats per minute” (bpm) is the standard reference for how fast or slow the beep or click is going. Getting a quality unit to practice with is absolutely essential to developing your drumming skills. As a drummer, if you cannot keep a steady tempo, and play accurate rhythms – GAME OVER – no one will want you playing drums with them!

Electronic Metronomes

Today’s metronomes are electronic, digital and take advantage of all the latest technology.
A very satisfactory unit can be purchased for about $20. Or you can get really fancy and easily spend over $100. If you don’t have 20 bucks, you can use applications for free right off the internet that work well.
My top recommendation for affordability AND functionality is the:

Korg MA-1


Korg MA1BL Visual Beat Counting Metronome, Blue

The Korg MA-1 is my top choice metronome for practicing. Whilst this metronome can be used for live purposes I have featured other metronomes in this list below which covers the practice ground better. The Korg’s MA-1 metronome has many great features:

All the subdivision and rhythm variation features you need.

  • Easy to read display where you can count the beats visually
  • Has rhythm variations which means you don’t only have to play to the straight click sound
  • Volume control
  • Headphone jack which is particularly useful if you want to use this metronome for live drumming
  • The best part about this drummer’s metronome is that it is completely budget-friendly.
  • When buying the Korg MA-1 you have a choice between the blue above or the red and black color scheme

Boss DB-90 Metronome

best metronome for live drumming boss dr beat db-90

BOSS DB-90 Talking Dr. Beat Metronome w/ Power Supply

This Boss DB-90 metronome is a big leap to the high-end costing a fair bit.
It has all the same basic features as the Korg MA-1 and more. The biggest difference is its larger size. The display, buttons, and controls are larger and easier to use. This metronome can also be mounted on the top of a cymbal stand, which is good for live. It is simply a higher quality, more substantial piece of equipment. This is a great metronome to run metronome and click for live drumming. From this Boss metronome, the click can be sent to your band. Another reason this is a great metronome for live is that it has a midi input so it can be controlled accordingly.

Boss DB-60 Practice Metronome

best metronome for drumming practice boss db-60

Boss Db-60 Dr. Beat Metronome by BOSS Audio

If the Boss DB-90 above is too heavy duty for you and goes beyond what you need then perhaps this model, the DB-60 is better for you. This isn’t such a great metronome for live situations although it certainly can be used in that environment. This is the best metronome for practicing and it is very compact so it can easily fit in your drumstick bag.

Roland SPD-SX


Roland SPD-SX Sampling Percussion Pad

I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy for adding this to a list of best metronomes. However, when it comes to live playing, the Roland SPD SX is really one of the best options for running a metronome. Having the ability to run the metronome is just one of so many incredible things this piece of gear can do. If you watch live concerts of the top bands and drummers in the world, you can clearly see the majority of them have one of these and pretty much all of them use it as a metronome for live drumming. The Roland SPD-SX is not just an investment in terms of the metronome and clicks function but this is a tool that will take your live drumming rig to the next level. Furthermore, I regularly recommend the SPD-SX as a great drumset for kids and beginners.

Wind-up Pendulum Style

Tempi Winding Metronome

Just for nostalgia, let’s look at the good old-fashioned wind-up device of the past.

This is what was sitting on my piano teacher’s piano every week when I went to lessons as a young boy. They are actually pretty cool, and if in working order, they are very reliable.
If you already own one of these – or if your grandma owns one – you can certainly use it. If you are going to buy one, I wouldn’t recommend one of these. The limitations are obvious.

Free Online Timing & MetronomeTools

If you can’t spare the $20 right now, or you want to get your hands on something immediately, there are free online applications that work quite well. They are usually pretty basic, but will certainly do the job to get you started.
You can search around on the internet and explore many options, but the very good one I have found is:

Other Gear and Equipment for Success

It is a common mistake to think that drumming is all about having the coolest set of drums on the block. All drummers love owning great drums, but this will not make you a great player. The tools I have mentioned so far are the most important to get you started. In future lessons, we will give you guidelines for purchasing drums, hardware, and other equipment.

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