Rhythm section practice – a good way to improve the band’s time

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
‘SO’, there have been some issues / discussions in the band I’m in about tempo and time for our songs (originals): are we playing them too slow or too fast, who is speeding up where, etc… that sort of thing. Also, it seemed to me that the band’s time and coherence as a whole could have used some improving. (I’m working on improving my time, too).

So the bass player and I started practicing together once a week to a metronome. Nothing fancy, just run through the songs at a set tempo. We very quickly identified some of the the timing issues (speeding up at transitions, etc..) and were able to get them right pretty quickly, usually at the second go.

After just a few weeks of this, it’s amazing what a difference it made when we rehearse with the whole band together (add lead guitar and singer) – it helped us identify further issues, like the 'temptation' to slow down during a guitar solo, etc. The whole band sounds a lot tighter and together, which is a really good feel.

Not to mention I really like the sound of just bass and drums… but that’s a different story.

So, just wanted to share this as a good way to improve a band’s time pretty quickly and in a positive way, free from the usual blame game of whose fault it is, etc…

Does anyone have other good stories about simple things you’ve done in a band to overcome a particular issue?
 
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uniongoon

Gold Member
Over the course of 30+ years of live gigging I have done this, but more often than not, other people were not as committed as myself and it either would happen once or twice or not at all. Easier while on the road steady, cause then we are all prisoners with less ways to escape.

Good for you for recognizing the need and acting on it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Good for you WFID for actually doing this. It could be the very best way to tighten up as a band, learning how to play with a met together. I've never actually done this. So cheers for having a bass player who is game as well. This kind of practice really should be done on a regular basis. The band I'm in does not rehearse. I've never rehearsed with them, not one time. We learn songs on our own and try them out on the bandstand. What you're doing is awesome though.
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
Thanks Larry and uniongoon. It's been a really good experience.


Practicing to a metronome to improve timing, you say? Why didn't I think of that?
Hehe. Well there is more to it than the metronome I think. There is an element of getting the bass and drums more aligned and identifying what sections we tend to come out of sync and fixing that... This is an amateur band, so stuff like this makes a difference :)
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Kidding, of course. I do try and keep this kind of thing to a minimum, though. We usually turn it on just to work out a question we might have on a transition, or what have you, then turn it back off.
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
Kidding, of course. I do try and keep this kind of thing to a minimum, though. We usually turn it on just to work out a question we might have on a transition, or what have you, then turn it back off.
I hear you. I know a lot of the pros on the forum are against using the metronome - and I can see where that's coming from. 'Ebb and flowing together' :) as Who Is Tony likes to put it...
At an amateur band level, it's a different story... You have to get everyone on the same page before we can start flexing time...
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Yeah.

Way back when, the band at the time ran a click thru the PA, and the whole band (minus lead vocals) rehearsed the set to the click. It made a huge difference on stage.
 

uniongoon

Gold Member
A common mistake which I and others I have played with were guilty of. If you happen upon a gig with a really big stage, the first tendency is to spread out the set up. Unless you have a great monitor tech who knows your band well, do not do this. Set up nice and tight as if you are on a small stage, you can still run around the stage, but having the amps and drums in close proximity will help keep the band tighter. If everyone set up 20 feet apart, the signals and timing can really get out of control, I noticed the base meter between everyone gets separated and lost, almost like everyone feeling the pulse a fraction apart.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
I hear you. I know a lot of the pros on the forum are against using the metronome - and I can see where that's coming from. 'Ebb and flowing together' :) as Who Is Tony likes to put it...
At an amateur band level, it's a different story... You have to get everyone on the same page before we can start flexing time...
WFID, my understanding of Who Is Tony's approach is that when the band is playing (without a click), timekeeping is a shared responsibility, rather than the sole responsibility of the drummer.

I've never taken this to mean that practising with a click is a bad thing.

If I've misunderstood I'm sure Who Is will put me right.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
WFID, my understanding of Who Is Tony's approach is that when the band is playing (without a click), timekeeping is a shared responsibility, rather than the sole responsibility of the drummer.

I've never taken this to mean that practising with a click is a bad thing.

If I've misunderstood I'm sure Who Is will put me right.
He would not tell people to ignore the metronome as a tool, he's only referencing that natural time is (in many cases) more pleasing to listen to.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Hehe. Well there is more to it than the metronome I think. There is an element of getting the bass and drums more aligned and identifying what sections we tend to come out of sync and fixing that... This is an amateur band, so stuff like this makes a difference :)

Nope. It's just that simple.

Everybody hears a click and plays along with it. It is remarkable simple.

After a while you will be able to ditch it for the most part. How long it takes depends on how stubborn the players are.

The metronome solves almost every argument about tempo. The first thing I do is get the tempos on all the songs I play. If anyone thinks they are too slow/fast, I push the button and we play along with the click.

Every member of your group needs to play along with the others. We are not machines so the tempo will wander a bit but, we all need to learn to listen to the other parts along with our own.

Start recording as soon as you can, even if it's a half assed set up.. That will help everyone understand the importance of playing together, in tempo. As long as the recording method has a click, you will learn from it.


I know a lot of the pros on the forum are against using the metronome
I'm thinking that you misunderstood some posts.
 
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