Metronome vs drum machine for beginners

I’m a beginner (just finished grade 2 of the beginner’s course) and I’m trying to improve my ability to keep time and make my strumming sound good. Any thoughts on whether there are any advantages or disadvantages to using a drum machine vs a metronome?

I find it more fun to play along with the drum machine, especially when I get it right and I can hear I’m hitting the beats right, but not sure if this is less helpful because its easier than with the metronome where every beat sounds the same?


It’s very personal. What works for one may not work for the other. I struggled with a metronome when I was learning, it took me a few attempts over a period of months before I could get the hang of it.

I now also have a drum machine, the Boss DRS01 which I love. At times I prefer the metronome over the drum machine, other times I prefer the drum machine.

The great thing is that as a beginner you are paying attention to your tempo. It makes such a difference learning to play along to the metronome / drum machine / click track.


Whatever floats your boat really, though I use both for different things.

If I’m practising scales, hammer-ons, flick-offs, etc then I usually use a metronome. I use Justin’s tip of setting it’s volume to a bit less than my guitar, so that if I nail the timing then the note covers the click completely.

If I’m doing pretty much anything else like solos or songs then I use a drum machine. I find drums easier to hear than a click, it compliments what I’m playing instead of ruining it, and I just find it a lot more fun.


The only disadvantage to using a drum machine that I can think of is that it possibly doesn’t develop your skill at playing with a metronome.

I think it’s good to use a metronome occasionally so that you get the feel of playing along to one.

There may be times when playing with a metronome is useful, such as Justin’s Time Trainer app.

Other than that, whatever helps develop your rhythm and timing is fine and, in some ways, a drum machine is closer to performing with other people, so I would definitely recommend drum machines as a good tool.



1 Like

Why not use both? I have a Boss RC-5 looper with a built-in drum tracks and metro nome. I usually practice strumming, chord changes, and song rhythms to a drum track and practice scales to a metronome. I also practice playing melodies over a drum track and the rhythm that I recorded into the looper.

I have tried a drum track a little, and probably will some more because it does seem more fun and musical.

However, I struggle enough with a metronome and it’s steady click. The drum track needs to be very, very simple for me to even have a hope.

So, since this is a challenge area for me, I need to start with the metronome more and as I get better at it, move to drum and backing tracks for timing.

I’d suggest starting with a “straight 4/4” drum track, with hihat on the upbeats.

Some metronomes make it easy to set this up e.g. the Pro Metronome for iOS.

I use both. The drum machine is nice because I can get high hats or toms on the ‘and’ beat. The metronome is great for scales, strumming, or timing with a song. I use online versions of both.

The comments above are all helpful for me - I’m currently using a combination of the two (metronome when trying to pick out melodies time or learning strumming patterns, and drum machine when actually playing chord sequences / rhythm bits - much more fun), and just wanted to check it wasn’t meaning I’m slowing development by taking an easy route etc.

At the moment its still only simple kick-snare-kick-snare drum patterns that I can easily play with but will try more as i improve hopefully!

Both for me too actually. Metronome for scale work and if there’s any chord changes I’m working on (OMC exercise remains relevant for me when learning song with weird barre chord moves!).

But songs are always to a backing track or drum track, sounds weird otherwise! :wink: