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4 Tips For Playing To A Click

June 11, 2013

Last post, we talked about why it is important to be able to play to a click track. However, that’s easier said than done. In this post, I’ll show you some tips to get you better at playing to a click. For some people, it comes natural, but most of us it’s a learned skill. Here’s how.Click Track

1. Focus on the Click

The first and most important concept to click playing is to NOT focus only on you. It’s natural for us to just jam out like we normally do and just expect the click to match up. It doesn’t work like that. We need to listen to the click and focus on it. We should play to the click, not hoping the click plays to us. Remember, the click never lies. If you’re off, it’s not the click, it’s you. It can be frustrating,  but keep trying! You can do it, it just takes some practice.

2. Turn Up the Click

Sometimes, the click just simply ain’t loud enough. No one can play to a click if they can’t hear it. Especially in the case of louder instruments like drums, the click must be heard as loud the instruments. In those cases, try headphones, especially the kind that covers the ears.

3. Change the Click’s Sound

Some clicks are super annoying! The sound of click itself might be wrong for your ears. While it is very important for the click to be punchy enough to cut through over the instrument(s), sometimes it can be too harsh/too much treble/too much bass/etc. Just find a way to change the click sound in your DAW or metronome or insert an external one. I’ve seen some people even use a basic kick/snare drum beat as a “click track.” Do whatever works, it will change depending on the situation.

4. Check the Tempo

Lastly, if all else fails, maybe the click is set at the wrong tempo for the song you are recording/rehearsing. Often, it’s best to set the tempo to the most exciting and energetic part of the song such as the chorus. Chances are, you are playing a little faster on the most exciting part of the song than the more chill parts.  It’s just human nature. Of course, you should eventually get good enough to where you can adjust your playing to match any tempo, but sometimes all that’s needed is a tempo change.

TIP: Keep in mind that if you can play drums in perfect time with a click, it will “bury” the click. Ironically, the click is loudest when you are off with it. Sometimes, it can be a balancing act of trying to play with the click until you can’t hear it. Weird, I know, but it makes sense practice. At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do by reading about it. Get out there are practice. You can’t get worse, only better! 🙂


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