Playing to a click track - opinions?

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BigMonkaBigMonka Frets: 1510
Does anyone here play to a click track? I've got a drummer who isn't the most accurate with his timing and ends up following my playing more than the other way round - which mostly works in terms of keeping in time, but it does mean that I have to play quite rhythmically rather than being free to embelish as I'd like to.
So for those who do play to a click, how do you find it? Does it take away the fun of playing live and make you play more robotically? Or is it great because you sounds tighter without a huge amount of effort?

Just for info, sacking the drummer isn't an option as the whole thing is just a bit of fun among friends, and he's great in lots of other ways.
Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman, in which case always be Batman.
My boss told me "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"... now I'm sat in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman.
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Comments

  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6978
    Why do you want to play to the click track would be my first question.

    It makes a lot of sense if songs need to be at a particular tempo, say for example because if it's too fast there are parts that can't be performed properly.  Or if you were using some kind of backing tracks and need them to line up, ditto any MIDI changes etc.

    The thing is if you play a click track and the drummer can't keep in time with it then it's a pointless exercise, it'll end up causing more problems than it solves.  The click itself doesn't make the band tighter, the players still have to be able to play evenly and in time, it just gives a central reference point.

    What might be more beneficial is to see if you can get the drummer to practice to a metronome.  Ideally a little slower than the tempo of the songs, so they can work on really being in time.  Or even to try playing to a metronome in a rehearsal and see how that goes, chances are if they can't keep time now it'll take them a while to build up the skill of playing in time, maybe best to not try to jump straight into using it live.

    I don't know what kind of music you're doing, but IMO a click track probably isn't needed for a typical pub covers band who don't use any additional backing tracks.
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  • slackerslacker Frets: 943
    Try a metronome with a light and turn the sound off. IMHO learning to play in time is a process. You play with other people, practice with a metronome, play with sequencers and eventually you get it. 
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 909
    Oooh... I hate playing to clicks and/or backing tracks, so I don't. Recording at home (by myself) is an obvious, unavoidable exception. 

    I'd much rather hear and play music that ebbs and flows in tempo as any other musical dynamic. 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 368
    I've done it before and its quite tricky for all of you in a 5 piece band say, to keep in time with it, esp if its just the drummer that has the click. For recording I've done it as that's standard. I like groove and keeping a steady tempo, alot of the music I play is tight rhythmical metalcore type riffs so its essential it all locks in and its tight.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11759
    The problem with playing to a click - particularly if your drummer doesn't have the greatest feeling for keeping time - is that the metronome doesn't adapt, so if he falls behind or gets ahead, he either has to ignore the click from that point on (thus defeating the point) or rush/hang back to get back into step (which is always noticeable for the punters).
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • uncledickuncledick Frets: 227
    Drummers not keeping time is surprisingly common in my experience.  Maybe have a word with your bass player to see if he/she can lay down something really strong when you're busy widdling.  We've had times when our keyboard player would count the drummer in to a particularly critical fill.

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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1951
    We have a couple of LED floods around the drum kit. At the start of a number I tap in the tempo into the lighting controller with a footswitch, and that’s the speed which the light flash at. It’s very difficult for him to drum at any other speed.
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  • BigMonkaBigMonka Frets: 1510
    Thanks for the insight guys - sound like it won't particularly solve the problem and it could actually make it harder.
    hmmm, time to rethink - although maybe having something during rehearsals would help. I like @Roland 's idea of a specific light for the drummer to sub-consciously play in time too!
    Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman, in which case always be Batman.
    My boss told me "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"... now I'm sat in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman.
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