playing on the grid

pdrummer

Junior Member
Hi,

how importent is it, to be on the grid when recording and playing to a click.
i have been playing for quite a few years now and did two studio recordings.
one with a click and one without a click.
the session with the cick was a mess.
the studio guy said i could not play and he cut everything to the click, which made everything worse in my opinion....
the positive thing was, that i learned a lot about my playing!
after that i started practicing with a click, and one thing i noticed when i record myself and
look in garage band where my strokes are and where the grid is, that im very inconsistent.

so my question is, how spot on do you have to be on the grid through out the whole song vs sounding like a drum computer?
i am basically talking about rock music, like acdc...

are there some tips how get better at playing with the click and be more consitent?
basically i tend to play before the click...
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Hi,

how importent is it, to be on the grid when recording and playing to a click.
Super important. It's expected, once you get into the professional gigging world. Many gigs are lost because a drummer can't hang with the click. It's basically a given, in these modern times.

i have been playing for quite a few years now and did two studio recordings.
one with a click and one without a click.
the session with the cick was a mess.
the studio guy said i could not play and he cut everything to the click, which made everything worse in my opinion....
When your timing is not good, it's difficult to perceive just how bad it is. To your ears, it may have been worse with the click, but it probably was better, overall, even if it seemed wobbly to you. Keeping time with a click is difficult, and grooving welll to a click is an even more advanced skill. But professional drummers do it all the time, and yes, it can be learned.

the positive thing was, that i learned a lot about my playing!
after that i started practicing with a click, and one thing i noticed when i record myself and
look in garage band where my strokes are and where the grid is, that im very inconsistent.
All drummers are like this when they first start learning to drum with a click. It's quite normal. Good for you for testing yourself, that take courage!

so my question is, how spot on do you have to be on the grid through out the whole song vs sounding like a drum computer?
i am basically talking about rock music, like acdc...
Well, it's not 1983 anymore, so the answer is: you need to be really, really nailing the click all the time. You will NOT sound like a computer; you will sound like YOU, but with much better timing.

are there some tips how get better at playing with the click and be more consitent?
basically i tend to play before the click...
Yes, but it's better that you are shown in private lessons, by someone who has lots of experience with clicks. Slowing down will help, but you need to specifically practice in a way that develops your accuracy. I teach this to students all the time (I'm an instructor), and I wouldn't bother trying to explain, outside of a lesson.

Just a heads up: there are plenty of drummers who can't play with a click, who will tell you it's unnecessary, that it kills the groove, and so on. From the early 90s on, pretty much all rock records were made with a click. And yes, on rare occasion, there will be a session or project that doesn't use a click, but at that point, the players all have lots of click experience, and so the timing is super tight.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Awareness is the first step so you've done that. Then goal oriented practice. Play to the click. Record yourself playing to a click. Video yourself playing to a click to spot visual tension cues. Do everything you can to acquire steady, even meter on a locked in tempo. Everyone starts from the same place you're in right now, when they realize that their time circuit isn't good enough. There are no shortcuts other than dedicated practicing of time to a click. It will happen soon enough if you focus on it. It's a lifelong thing that I personally have to be vigilant on, keeping the time where it should be and not letting my emotions or a rushing/dragging player rattle me. Also my time control will lessened if I don't keep that particular muscle toned.

When you start focusing on time, you hear everyone else's infractions even more, but that's a good thing. It's as much listening and feeling as anything.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
I find if I play along with some thing that wasn't recorder to a click and the drummers time isn't solid I can't do it.
 

pdrummer

Junior Member
thanks for the answares!

i am sure there are a lot different opinions on the click track and most of the bands i like don't use one.
i think even bigger bands like green day or the red hot chili peppers don't use a click in the studio.

But i know i am not gifted if it comes to timing and music in generell, and want to be able to play as good as possible with the click in the future.
my main goal right now is, to have consistent feel through a song. and thats easier for me without a click at the moment.

its difficult to get lessons for me, so thats why i was asking how to check myself. i assume recording your kick and snare for example with garage band and compare your strokes with the grid seems the best way at the moment.

another exercise i was doing for a few months was to set the click to 60 bpm or slower and play 4th, 8th, triplets and so on. with hands and feet separately.
(because my bass drum is the weakest point right know.)

so if anybody has some great exercises, i would be very thankful.
 

Lenkasammy

Active member
Awareness is the first step so you've done that. Then goal oriented practice. Play to the click. Record yourself playing to a click. Video yourself playing to a click to spot visual tension cues. Do everything you can to acquire steady, even meter on a locked in tempo. Everyone starts from the same place you're in right now, when they realize that their time circuit isn't good enough. There are no shortcuts other than dedicated practicing of time to a click. It will happen soon enough if you focus on it. It's a lifelong thing that I personally have to be vigilant on, keeping the time where it should be and not letting my emotions or a rushing/dragging player rattle me. Also my time control will lessened if I don't keep that particular muscle toned.

When you start focusing on time, you hear everyone else's infractions even more, but that's a good thing. It's as much listening and feeling as anything.
+1
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
i think even bigger bands like green day or the red hot chili peppers don't use a click in the studio.
They definitely do. A common practice is to have the band start with the click, get through the first minute or so, and then mute the click and let the band finish without it. This way the band gets a solid start, but things can flex a little from there.

Metallica used slightly different metronome speeds for different parts of each song, on the Black album. The choruses were one or two bpm faster, the bridges were one or two, slower, etc.
so if anybody has some great exercises, i would be very thankful.
YouTube is full of them, although I haven't specifically seen the method I teach (yet). Practicing the different subdivisions (quarters, 8ths, triplets, 16ths, 16th triplets, 32nds) is a good start. You can also set the metronome to play all the 16ths (not just quarter notes), and practice rock and funk grooves. Set the metronome to all the triplets, and practice half-time shuffles, blues shuffles, jazz/swing independence, etc.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
It's really important to play to the click.

It's only sometimes important to play to the grid. Apparently, the OP encountered one of those times.

Typically, unless you're playing to a quantized pop track, you will be playing a groove that has pieces that are consistently off the grid. The variance is what gives a groove it's feel.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Rick Beato has an excellent Youtube discussion about this with musical examples. I believe its called ‘How computers destroyed rock music’ or something similar.
 

trickg

Silver Member
Learn to play with a click - just do it. EVERYONE will thank you - as a trumpet player who came to drums later in life, I can tell you firsthand how awful it can be to play with a drummer who is inconsistent, but who isn't aware of the fact that they are inconsistent.

I've always had a fairly developed sense of time and tempo, and I never had issues playing drums to a click, but in my early days drumming, I had some of the same bad habits many drummers have - specifically rushing through a fill (fills are exciting and it's easy to push) and landing early on the '1' - but I did a lot of self-critique and analysis by listening to the weekly recordings of the praise band I played for, and that helped a lot.

There are tons of resources. A good way to learn to play with better time and yet continue to be musical (and it's a lot more fun than just playing along to a dry click) is to hook into drumless tracks on YouTube. Get a good set of in-ears, plug in, and go to town! Record yourself as much as you can and do a lot of honest self-appraisal - not only for what you need to improve, but also for what you do well. That way you can learn to eliminate the bad while reinforcing the good.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
and thats easier for me without a click at the moment.
If you want to progress faster, you HAVE to do the things that aren't easy. The things that are hard for you...they are EXACTLY where you should be focusing your attention and energy. You're not doing yourself any favors by picking the easier route, in fact you're setting yourself up for mediocrity IMO.

It's all about having the "man up" attitude where you work on the harder stuff by choice and eliminate the easier stuff from your practice routine.

Practice isn't about sounding good. It's about getting excited about working your weaknesses, not avoiding them. If you come away from a practice all frustrated....you practiced good.
 
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trickg

Silver Member
You're not doing yourself any favors by picking the easier route, in fact you're setting yourself up for mediocrity IMO.
This. I'm a perfect example of this with my first instrument - trumpet. Don't get me wrong, I've always been "good," but I've never been great. Part of this is because I never had any kind of formal instruction or private lessons during my formative years, so I simply avoided things that I didn't do well. Case in point, my scales. I knew most of my major scales, but I avoided keys like B/Cb, C#/Db, F#/Gb, and don't even get me started on minor scales. Even at the Armed Forces School of Music, somehow I managed to get through, even though I was supposed to learn and know them.

I'm almost 50 now, and it was only 5-6 years ago that I made a point to dig in and really get those scales under my fingers. And you know what? It didn't take that long. Now, I start every practice by going through my scales in the circle of 5ths - majors ascending first, then majors ascending and descending, then minors ascending and descending.

That's just one example though - there are all kinds of things involving technique and musical knowledge that if I'd have tackled them earlier, I may have become a much better player than I am now.

It's a simple concept - if you want to get better at something you don't do well, then you need to spend some focused and dedicated practice on those very things - but it's a concept that many musicians don't seem to get.
 

TMe

Senior Member
how importent is it, to be on the grid when recording and playing to a click.
Personally, I can't stand the sound of drummers who lock in with the grid. (I'm assuming that by "the grid" you mean small subdivisions of time, like 1/8's, 1/16's, etc.) I can't imagine why someone would spend thousands of hours learning how to sound like a machine. If I liked that sound, I would be learning more about how to program drum tracks, and I'd get rid of the acoustic kit.

the studio guy said i could not play and he cut everything to the click, which made everything worse in my opinion....
I'm thinking of a word that rhymes with "click".

I wish it was 1983 and it's clear why I only really listen to jazz anymore.
I'm with you. Rock is still my music but I can't stand the way most of it is recorded, so I find myself listening to more Jazz and Blues. Most of the Rock I listen to is from garage bands. The commercial recordings leave me cold.
 
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Chollyred

Senior Member
I haven't heard myself recorded in years until a few weeks ago when the church I play for started recording and streaming our services. For one thing, the band is not very good (even for a bunch of volunteers), and the recording/streaming has lots of technical problems, and there are sometimes triggering issues with the e-drums I'm playing. But I'm most distressed with MY sound. I feel like I'm all over the place. I've always considered myself a good timekeeper, but not from the recent recordings. I'm now starting to practice to a metronome, something I haven't done in years. We don't use IEMs, so can't use a click. I don't often like music recorded "on the grid", but the drummer MUST be able to set and keep a steady tempo (now getting the guitarist or pianist to follow it is a whole 'nother story).
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
In my world, being able to play to a grid is highly important. People who listen to metal are interested in machine gun sounding, straight ahead drumming. The more precise, the more aggressive and brutal the music. Room to breathe and dynamics aren't as important. Being able to lock with a click is.

If you want to be able to lock to the click and grid, you must learn to play with the click. Use it every time you sit down to play. It will become second nature
 

BonsaiMagpie

Junior Member
Its so important to play to the click. My producer, on the last EP, was very happy that I only drifted 2BPM in each of our tracks, as it made his job so much easier.
Playing to the grid like most people are saying is a movable feast, but your players need to play to this new off-grid beat. Personally, I prefer to play my ghosts and off beats in the grid.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Personally, I can't stand the sound of drummers who lock in with the grid. (I'm assuming that by "the grid" you mean small subdivisions of time, like 1/8's, 1/16's, etc.) I can't imagine why someone would spend thousands of hours learning how to sound like a machine. If I liked that sound, I would be learning more about how to program drum tracks, and I'd get rid of the acoustic kit.
This being the OP's first adventure with the click, that's a huge assumption. Most likely "the grid" refers to quarter notes only. Even so, for a drummer who has hardly any click experience, learning to lock in with 16ths and triplets, is a good lesson in control.

If you want to develop "groove", then that's another discussion altogether. Developing a relaxed, non-machine-like, but still-with-good-timing, feel, takes deliberate, focused practice. I'd recommend playing along with Stax and Muscle Shoals recordings.

These two skills, put together, are where it's at. Groove, and good timing, are not mutually exclusive.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Just keep doing what you're doing. Work with a click at home so you don't need it on the stage, and you'll also have the ability to play to a click for those idiot producers who would rather have something they can cut up and quantize/sound replace easily than they'd rather have the full energy and humanness of a player/band with their own good time.

Someone mentioned Green Day and that's a perfect example in my mind of how this stuff goes too far. The early albums were absolutely NOT done to a click... The later albums absolutely are, and they sound sterile and lifeless (yet perfect) as a result. I can't even listen to them, or the majority of over-produced rock and pop that came out in the 2000's.

Once grid work/heavy editing/replacements got into the mainstream, producers started using that level of perfection as the baseline and it really changed how human music sounds to me.

But whatever you do, don't stop using a click or "perfect time" music to practice with.
 
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TMe

Senior Member
This being the OP's first adventure with the click, that's a huge assumption.
That's why I explained my assumption. If the OP is nowhere near hitting the whole notes - then the studio guy has a point and the OP does need to spend more time with a metronome. If the the OP is hitting the "1" of every bar reasonably well, that should be "close enough for Rock 'n Roll", so to speak.

...for a drummer who has hardly any click experience, learning to lock in with 16ths and triplets, is a good lesson in control.
It's a good exercise, yes. I could use more of that. But if it becomes the way a drummer plays, all the time, imitating a drum machine, it's not a great sound. A drum machine could do a better job.

But mostly it's a matter of taste. There are people who think Stewart Copeland's drumming "improved" after the first two Police albums. The first time I heard someone say that, I thought they were joking.
 
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