Playing live, with a click

New Tricks

Platinum Member
To those of you that have done this, my question is, how can you possibly stick with the click if other members of the band, especially the bass player, were struggling against you?

Sometimes I will try to stay firm but, if they aren't cooperating after about ten seconds, my tendency is to bail on the click and join the tempo that is being forced upon me. I do have the capability to switch the click on/off and sometimes I have to resort to that.

Do you play the click thru the entire song or do you reset it if it goes askew a bit?

Maybe the players I have been playing with are just not accustomed to following the drummer?

I do realize how difficult it is to be 100% on tempo, especially while singing/playing and at chorus/bridge changes. I was just curious how click drummers deal with that part of the job.
 
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MrPockets

Gold Member
I don't see anything wrong with abandoning the click if no one else is locked into that tempo. It is for the good of the band.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
Most live situations without a click you will have a bit of a push pull. If you have the click in your ear you really dont have any of that. You will need to ignore the lag of any other instruments and just stick to your click. This is something you HAVE to practice. If the bassist gets off he has to adjust to you, not the other way around. Through enough rehersal you will get it down, but there will be some growing pains.

Unless you are synched to video or backing vocals I wouldn't recommend using a click live. I know it seems like a cool idea, but it can be a much bigger headache than its worth.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Most live situations without a click you will have a bit of a push pull. If you have the click in your ear you really dont have any of that. You will need to ignore the lag of any other instruments and just stick to your click. This is something you HAVE to practice. If the bassist gets off he has to adjust to you, not the other way around. Through enough rehersal you will get it down, but there will be some growing pains.

Unless you are synched to video or backing vocals I wouldn't recommend using a click live. I know it seems like a cool idea, but it can be a much bigger headache than its worth.
That sounds sensible to me. I practice with a click but never use one live, I love the push and pull of a live gig.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
Use the click to set the tempo then 86 it. Music must breathe. There will be some natural ebb and flow. If not, get a drum machine and go have a beer.
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
If we're preparing for the studio, we rehearse with everyone hearing the click. It works perfectly! Sometimes during rehearsal or even live, I'm the only one hearing the click. If they pull away from me, I can't just stick to the click and let everything fall apart. I'll turn it off or completely ignore it until I can get them back on track.

I've actually resorted to just using the lights now without any click in my ears. I'm fairly good at it, but they can still pull away at times. I just have to adjust.

My response is, "hey, I tried." lol
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
If the band knows a click is involved, then they know they HAVE to follow the drummer.

There is no choice.

If there are backing tracks and/or sequencers, there really is no choice.

Is a player gets off, they better rein in to me or else.

Only once was it ever an issue, but it wasn't anyone was off time, they were just in the wrong part of the song. I knew where I was, and once I played the fill the signaled time to go to the chorus, everyone fell inline.
 

Taye-Dyed

Senior Member
I have never played live with a click, but I have used a metronome app with flashing lights a couple of times to help me count in the songs and provide visual aid to keep me at least in the ballpark of the tempo. I am with DED, if you are using a click, the rest of the band must follow you.
 

Jack Boyd

Senior Member
If the band knows a click is involved, then they know they HAVE to follow the drummer.

There is no choice.

If there are backing tracks and/or sequencers, there really is no choice.

Is a player gets off, they better rein in to me or else.

Only once was it ever an issue, but it wasn't anyone was off time, they were just in the wrong part of the song. I knew where I was, and once I played the fill the signaled time to go to the chorus, everyone fell inline.
I agree. During rehearsals; if anyone strays from my tempo, I do not follow them, even if it means a train wreck. After a couple of times the other players get it and follow my tempo much better. And since they know I have the correct time in my ear, including at the gig, they trust it -- and listen for it. I hate to say it, but - you have to train your band!
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
What kind of moron string player starts doing his own thing when he knows there's a click in the ear of the drummer? If a band wanted me to play live to a click and I allowed it, they sure as hell better not get any ideas about wandering time. What's the point of even having the click in that case?
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I play every weekend with a click and backing tracks at my church. I also use a click when playing with other bands. When I play with pro musicians the click is not an issue, because everyone is laying back on the drummer. I have played with bands on the amateur side and I can tell right away they are playing for them selfs, there is an uncomfortable push and pull. Its like herding cats. In that situation I use a click as reference and kill it for the rest of the song. Emotion can mess with your tempo, if you are amped up 120bpm could feel like 100bpm, if tired 120 could feel like 140bpm. The main thing is to find a pocket and listen to the big picture click or no click. You should be able to play live both ways. If have a good feel going and the one of the band members wants you to speed up or slow down, stick to your guns and stay in the pocket.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I've only had the chance to try this out with guys who couldn't follow the click very well. It was really frustrating.

If the other musicians couldn't learn to play with it after being told then I would abandon the idea.
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
All of these replies are great and if you're playing in a band and these things work, fantastic. But they definitely don't work in my tiny little area of the world.

I can sit there and hit the hi-hat during a song intro to keep the singer/rhythm guitar player on track, but if he strays in a live situation, I'm gonna disregard the metronome and let him set the path. Like it or not, that's the way it works with me. I'm not going to cause a trainwreck, simply because someone is rushing it. I'm going to adjust to make it sound good.

Keep in mind that I'm not talking about ANYTHING being sequenced. I'm simply talking about a click in my ear (or following the lights) for the overall temp and nothing else.

If things are sequenced, then there are really only two choices - stick with it and force others to sync or shut the sequencing off.
 

Rhythm Boy

Member
If people are getting off tempo, I'll double up the snare to let them know. I see the benefits of clicks, but I'm still not a big fan. It helps if others have it in ear as well. Not always the case.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
New Tricks and others, what is the benefit of using a click live without recordings? Seems like it takes the attention away from the music.
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
New Tricks and others, what is the benefit of using a click live without recordings? Seems like it takes the attention away from the music.
In my case, all it really does is ensure I count of the right tempo for the song and I think that's a good thing. I'm paying less and less attention to the metronome in a live situation nowadays after we start off (shhhh, don't tell my band!)
 

EricT43

Senior Member
I am starting to use a click more and more with my band. Once a song starts, I can keep very steady time without it, but I sometimes have trouble finding the correct tempo to start the song. So the click helps me start at the right tempo. It also helps to avoid conflicts about whether a song is too slow or too fast. After everyone agrees it was just right, I write down the BPM and that's the tempo for that song from now on.

I intend to use a click as much as possible, in rehearsal and live. If it will help us have a more polished performance, then it is worth it in my opinion. I know some of you like the ebb and flow and what-not, but my point of view is that, at least in the rock music I play, the tempo needs to be stable, and it should be the same every time. You can have an energetic performance without throwing time-keeping and dynamics out the window.

In rehearsals, if someone is not sticking to my tempo, I do not make adjustments. I am the drummer and I own the tempo and the timing. There are two members in my band who do not have a good internal clock. I purposely expose this during rehearsal so that they will work on it. If I adjust to their bad timing in rehearsal, then I'll have to do the same during a performance, and it will make all of us look bad. And personally, I have too much pride as a drummer to do a performance with bad time. I'll quit the band if we can't play together with good time.

That being said, if something goes off during a performance, I'm going to go with the flow. Train wrecks are good during rehearsals, because they expose a problem we need to work on. But a live show is a time to cover up problems, not expose them.
 

EricT43

Senior Member
New Tricks and others, what is the benefit of using a click live without recordings? Seems like it takes the attention away from the music.
I think if you practice with it enough, it won't take your attention away from the music. If you use it only occasionally, then you will have to give it a lot of your attention because it is not something you're used to.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
New Tricks and others, what is the benefit of using a click live without recordings? Seems like it takes the attention away from the music.
That was my initial reaction. I didn't want to be a robot but, rehearsing to a click has certainly forced us to have better timing.

I had heard that a lot of upper level players/bands use a click in order to make their product more consistent and eliminate discussion about tempo. Until now, I assumed that these players used it live but, now I'm thinking that they probably only use it in rehearsal. I do know that it is WAY WAY easier to play without it.

A couple years ago, we started using a LOT of sequenced backing tracks (3 piece rock/pop band) and you have to be dead nuts on for this to work. If the tempo changes during or between the backing track segments, it gets ugly quick.

Again, I didn't realize it before I started this thread, but now I am assuming that the click is rarely used live unless there are backing tracks or highly trained players involved.

In rehearsals, if someone is not sticking to my tempo, I do not make adjustments.
What I have learned from recording is that everyone makes adjustments in order to make the music sound proper. They may be very minute adjustments, but we all must do it. It's the nature of the beast.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
Just so I understand, why do you use a click in the first place? If all you are wanting it for is to set a tempo, use a metronome. Make the band follow you. In rock music, 2 and 4 are very strong beats.
 
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