Playing To A Click Live


Silver Member
If you have to use a click live you have to make sure you have a foolproof system setup - either IEMs or headphones etc. You don't ever want to run into a train wreck where people can't hear each other and the band gets out of sync. Or the disasters of Simpson and Carey having meltdowns on national TV when their backing tracks screwed up.
I much prefer playing live and in sync with my bands using my big 'ears and eyes'. I do use a phone metronome to burn meters into my brain in band practice and on gigs for rapid transitions between tunes. I don't hear the click.. Just a quick glance at the flashing balls on the screen. Then once started , I don't look at it after that.. and if I do glance over during a tune I'm always dead on.. so its always consistent and never any debates about 'it was too slow or too fast' etc. The trick is to find the meter everyone agrees on and sits well with the groove and vocal line. When you count in I don't rely soley on the meter.. I still quickly dial up the key melody line in my head.. so that you're locked into the groove of the song from beat 1. The other benefit is you deveop a muscle memory in your brain for the if your phone dies you can call them up pretty accurately.. what it buys me is speed - I can jump into the next tune with perfect meter with one tap and within seconds. Medleys are different .. I just call the time change on the fly as usually one song leads directly into another at a different tempo. I use the current tune as a springboard to set the next tempo eg. Afew bpm faster or slower etc. The thing is singing guitar players can usually hit the meter dead on eveytime without thinking about it as they have the melody and lyriccs in there head and the muscle memory of how fast to strum it built- in. We drummers don't naturally have that advantage - so whatever work for you! The app I use is one of the first and best apps out there - Tempo Advanced by Frozen Ape - about $5 if I remember correctly.. it does setlists among other things.
Oh yeah and some tunes don't always follow steady time.. some on purpose (like Santana) or Stones (Honky Tonk) speeds up till the end etc. but play what works!
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Silver Member
I used a click 98% of the time live. My setup is simple and easy.
1. Metronome (Tama Rhythm Watch)
2. 4 Channel Mixer (Yamaha)
3. In-Ear Monitors

I run the Rhythm Watch to Channel 1 on the mixer, and then line in a feed of the live band on channel two. This way I can control the mix in my ears exactly how I want it.

If I'm using backing tracks I can use channels 3 & 4 for the Click and Tracks from the device running them (laptop/ipod/phone).

Plug your ears into the headphone out on the mixer, and you're all set.
Excellent set-up, pretty bullet-proof. I used to use similar with sequences, worked great. You can drop them into a briefcase with a power strip to take batteries out of the picture.


Well-known member
maybe I am too old school, but it would terrify me to use a click live...I feel like i have to listen to my band mates 100% to keep things in control. In both bands that I play drums in, I have guitar players who sometimes will leave out entire measures or phrases, or will mis-time words and I have to make quick doesn't happen very often, but I can never predict when it is going to happen...

And I also feel that I have practiced the songs enough that I can remember the tempos. I use metronomes every day at school with the kids, so it is not like I am afraid of them, or don't know how to use them, but I feel like if I do my work correctly before a gig, I shouldn't need a met at the gig...again, that is more of an old school type of mind set. Where I grew up, if you needed a met, or music stand or whatever at a gig, you were "looked down on"

Now, if we were lining up to recorded/supporting tracks it would be different...


Senior Member
I usually don't use the click, only the light, to make sure I count off in time and stays pretty close. Unless there are backing tracks of course.


Platinum Member
My band has too many subdivisionm meter, and tempo changes to use a click live. All it takes is one little thing and you can end up in a nightmare of a situation or have to rip the IEM's out. I may start on a few of the songs that are more straight forward, but I have talked to other drummers that play similar fast techy music and they say the same thing.

That being said, if you do covers, or more of a rock style, All you need is a metronome and some earbuds to get started. most music is 4/4 and one tempo.

I love playing with a click. They are a must in the studio, and I practice with one 100% of the time. If we start to use backing tracks we would have to use one also. It's mostly the fear of playing 200bpm or faster in some wonky time signature, missing a transition by a hair, and having to lock back into the click and ALSO not focus on the guitars.

If the entire band had the click it goes much better to. (and can use it well) if one person is using a click you are fighting the band it feels like.


Silver Member
I'm doing some odd meter and multiple time sig music now, and struggling with keeping the click on. For instance 7 measures of 4 and one of 3 turns your click around, so I've been experimenting with playing to a click on the ands. It's coming. Doublng the click is the easy workaround in those instances. Someone recommended (the 8020 guy maybe?) setting the click for the "a"s of the beat to clean up your swing pattern. Haven't tried it yet but it's on the list.

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Excellent set-up, pretty bullet-proof. I used to use similar with sequences, worked great. You can drop them into a briefcase with a power strip to take batteries out of the picture.
That's exactly what I did.
My "Flight rig" is dropped into an old Coffin Case metal drumstick case and fits into any luggage. For situations that I might need more than 3/4 channels on the mixer I have an identical setup with a 10 channel Yamaha mixer. This one has a built in power strip and DI box and is dropped into a metal briefcase I got from Home Depot. I padded it with foam to keep everything secure. It has intact fallen off stage mid-song and didn't fail!