Metronomes - classic Wittner pyramids vs electronic.

Edited: January 15, 2019, 7:26 AM · I've got a Wittner pyramid that I bought in the 70s. It was only a cheap laminated one. I don't know how much more life it's got in it, but I notice that the tick and the tock are not equal.

I'm tempted to buy a new solid walnut one as a special present to myself, because these things are iconic and beautiful, but I notice my teacher has an electronic one, and I guess if you are going to an orchestra pit, you'll look pretty damn foolish taking a pyramid!

So, should I buy an electronic? Should I buy both? Should I buy a smartphone even?

Replies (27)

Edited: January 15, 2019, 7:45 AM · Most folks use phone apps these days. I keep an old Seiko electric metronome in my case but I never use it. The old wooden tick-tock doesn't travel so well. The other thing I like about the phone app is that I can put in ear buds. This allows me some ear protection against my violin and it ensures that I can actually hear the metronome. My one complaint about ordinary metronomes in general is that they're never loud enough -- but please understand that I have somewhat compromised hearing (constant ringing, etc.).
January 15, 2019, 7:40 AM · I like having a small metronome on my stand that I can adjust without walking across the room. Sometimes the electronic beeps can be hard to hear over the violin, so I prefer one that clicks. The smartphone is a distraction and I don't want it around me when I practice. Those are pretty much my criteria. Also, you'll never need to take a metronome with you to an orchestra rehearsal.
January 15, 2019, 7:52 AM · I still like my giant Dr. Beat digital metronome for my practice room. It's hugely configurable and it's loud enough to be heard over a quartet (and if you really need to, you can plug it into speakers).

And I have a metronome app on my phone for when I'm on the go.

January 15, 2019, 9:29 AM · I like the visible inverted pendulum so I can see the beat coming and play with it. I reckon two thirds of our technique hides between (or before) the notes.
Edited: January 15, 2019, 11:35 AM · Laurie's got a blog about her (young) student's reaction to her old mechanical metronome. The child had no idea what it was!

I have an old battery-powered Seiko with a blinking red light and a 440 A. The earphone feature is useful, because the sound is not loud enough to avoid playing over it.

The pyramids are beautiful, though. And--according to Laurie--a curiosity.

January 15, 2019, 9:45 AM · Little piece of info - I never play with the metronome on, never have. I had piano teachers who made sure I never did.
January 15, 2019, 10:01 AM · I do not like using the smartphone ones, not only because the sound is generally lower, but because I generally turn off sound and vibration off when I practice so I do nit get interrupted, and I may see any call or text get through (airplane mode may dispense with the calls, but I rather know when I missed these possible calls *later*-do not enjoy being a slave to the phone, be it for business or personal reasons.)

(The above doesn't mean that it's wrong for everyone else to prefer these apps.)

The discontinued Dr Beat DR-66 is (was) my modern favorite. I use a small Taktell Piccolo because it's very easy to "turn on" (no batteries) without worrying about plugging it in, or worrying it won't work, plus it's small, if not tiny.

Many of the better Seiko models seem very attractive to me, and I would prefer them over smartphone apps.

Edited: January 15, 2019, 10:56 PM · Personally, I think that mechanical metronomes are an anachronism today. (No pun intended.) And the problem with phone apps is that they are relatively slow and inconvenient when you need to change settings. The Seiko SQ50-V is a modern day classic. It does most of what you need a metronome to do, while being quick to set, small and portable, inexpensive and reliable. Use a phone app when you need divided beats, etc. A Peterson "Body Beat" device can be plugged into any metronome or smartphone with a headphone jack, and is very useful too, I think.
January 15, 2019, 10:26 AM · I like my Dr. Beat DB-30. Small and gets the job done.
January 15, 2019, 11:11 AM · Are there any loud metronomes that people recommend that also have a good tuner on them?
January 15, 2019, 11:11 AM · The tap-tempo feature on the phone app is useful. Some electronic metronomes have it too. But I agree with Mark that it's super quick to set the Seiko because you just turn the big knob on the front
January 15, 2019, 10:23 PM · This is pretty damn stupid, I know, but I need both. My problem with the digital one is that you must set up the bpm and there is no tempo mark. I don't always remember how many bpm is allegretto, or I confuse it in my memory with allegro (for example). So I have the chunky ticktock one in my practice room and I carry a digital one in the case, with the rosin and stuff.
Edited: January 15, 2019, 11:13 PM · Carlos, your digital metronome might not have tempo markings, but many do, including the Seiko SQ50-V that I mentioned previously. (The Seiko SQ50-V isn't actually digital. It's quartz regulated with an analog readout, hence the "Q" in the model name.)
January 16, 2019, 1:50 AM · I use the Tempo App and the built-in metronome for the Tunable App, both for iOS.

The volume can be set very loud, the configuration is very fast, and the interface easy to use. Because of the wide range of beat/pulse settings, and the addition of various visual representations as well as sound, I far prefer the apps, which cost under $5 each, than using a separate metronome anymore.

I have one of the giant Dr. Beat metronomes I used for years teaching marching band, and also practicing for hours on end in graduate school. I never take it out anymore!

Edited: January 16, 2019, 8:43 PM · Having the tempo names on the metronome always frustrated me because my allegros were never fast enough. Then later, when I grew up and started making my own lunch, I realized those tempo names were only rough guides and that a better way to determine the correct tempo was to listen to recordings of professional players or ask my teacher. Alas, my allegros still weren't fast enough.
January 16, 2019, 7:06 AM · I love these pyramids, it is very expensive but I am going to buy one, as a symbol, me and my wife are musicians and we both love classical things. :) but I use my iPhone app because I use headphones with the metronome. I have big studio headphones, they are half-closed so I can hear violin pretty good with some lowering to volume and precisely I can hear metronome mixed into that sound
January 16, 2019, 9:22 AM · The Dr. Beat DB-90 is super loud. It has a reference A.

I backed a Soundbrenner Core watch on Kickstarter: LINK

I'm hoping that it's going to be my future easy portable solution for metronome and tuner needs.

January 16, 2019, 9:25 AM · Wow, that Soundbrenner Core watch looks amazing. I hope it lives up to the hype.
January 16, 2019, 9:35 AM · Before you commit please check out the Korg KDM-3 Digital Metronome. Its a pyramid shape, you can change tempos very fast with the rotary knob (a frustration with some digitals), and its surprisingly loud - easly loud enough to be heard over your fff passages ;)

It has the usual feature but only limited programmed tempi but for classical music these are rarely a priority. The only thing I would like improved is the 'tap' function: the sampling is too short (the number of taps) so that the displayed speed reflects the last two intervals and not the overall trend.

January 16, 2019, 9:48 AM · I use the Intelli IMT-301. It's loud enough, has a headphone jack, tone generator (for any note you need to tune to) and a tuner. I rarely use the tuner, but the tune to it's reference A 440 is nice. When I need tap tempo, or when I'm not at home, I use a phone app (Tonal Energy) for reference notes and metronome. The IMT-301 fits in my case, but I never take it with me because I like keeping it on the piano.
Edited: January 16, 2019, 10:21 AM · "Intelli IMT-301"
Hmmm, I think a metronome that contains a thermometer and a hygrometer is probably a little bit OTT. Also it only goes as far as A449. I kid you not, but I bought a cheap tuning fork online that was A450 (but advertised as A440), I confirmed using a Snark!
January 16, 2019, 4:48 PM · Andrew -like others who have posted, I have the Seiko SQ50-V. My main criterion when I bought it was: will it wake the dead in the next county? I need a very loud one because I use it for viola as well as violin. Mostly, I can hear it over the viola, although not always, so I have not been entirely happy. Matrix has a fairly cheap digital one which I think may be louder, and I suspect Dr. Beat is even louder, although I have not compared. Anyhow, if loudness is a primary criterion, there is a website that let's you try out metronomes to see how they sound: This website will also allow comparison with the traditional pyramid ones. If you are only using it at home, the wood one may be a good choice; however, it is not easy to schlep places unless you get a miniature wood one. Good luck!
January 16, 2019, 6:25 PM · Carlos, hello. First, tempo markings are not accurate, and sometimes they are simply ignored, that means, an allegro can mean 85 bpm and also 120 bpm. Second, find a printer, create your own guide for tempo markings and print it with small letters. Glue it or stick it to the digital metronome. I created myself one guide and stuck it in my digital metronome, naming all important tempo markings with their approximate range of bpm.
January 17, 2019, 11:12 AM · I have an Intelli and it is extremely useful and loud as a metronome. I don't find the tuner to be great, though. It gives you "green" when you are still a few cents off. It's just not reliable, even for just tuning your A, especially with kids who aren't great at tuning yet. I usually give my kids the old Korg for tuning, which works great -- but its metronome is super quiet.
Edited: January 17, 2019, 11:33 AM · I've bookmarked the Seiko and the Korg for future perusal, but a couple of hours ago I ordered an electric piano, so I'm boracic for a month or two.
January 22, 2019, 9:35 PM · I still use my old walnut pyramid metronome every time I practice. I like the sound of it (nice and loud but not obnoxious sounding), and I like that it doesn't use batteries. I've had it since I was a child.
January 23, 2019, 10:59 AM · Oh, I'd love to have a big maple or walnut or teak pyramid like Gramma had on her piano. So pretty. Grampa was a finish carpenter/furniture maker, and he made them out in his shop when times were slow. For some reason people looking usually bought whatever Gramma had on the piano. No idea why.

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