I had been using MetronomeOnline, which has all the basic stuff you get with a metronome. It was handy, but I don't really like practicing in front of my computer all that much. I keep my practice amp in the bedroom (like any 30 year old man indulging his inner 15 year old self does), so I thought it would be nice to have the portability that an actual metronome provides.
In order to pick one out, I made a mental list of the things I wanted or at least wanted to consider in a metronome:
- Variable tempo (duh)
- Small enough to be able to be tossed into my bass bag
- Battery powered
- Volume control
- Headphone jack
- Visual beat indication of some kind
- Decent reviews from other users
Here's how the Korg MA-30 stacks up.
- Digital selection of beats per minute (comes on at 120 by default). Also has a nice chart of tempo ranges on the back that might come in handy if I start playing from sheet music.
- It's the size of a playing card with the thickness of a smartphone. Nice and compact.
- Runs off 2 AAA batteries.
- Has a small volume dial on the side. Doesn't get super loud, but does mute itself while keeping the visual indicator going.
- Has a standard mini out headphone jack.
- The beat is indicated by a LCD arm that ticks back and forth. Not as cool as an LED lighting up, but cool enough.
- Other Amazon users rated it highly, which was a bonus. Teachers seemed to especially like it.
That last one is awesomely useful and reinforces the counting in my head (which I've been bad at ever since junior school band). This setting is also changeable, so if I need to practice in 3/4 for a waltz or something, I can do that too. This is the feature that pushes this over the top from digital metronome that is functional but forgettable into a purchase that I'm actually really happy with.
On the practice front, I'm sticking to a chromatic scale warm-up up and down the neck. After that, a little riff noodling, then some learning where I try to learn a riff from tab from a song I already know (tonight's was a very slow version of For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica). After that, I'm putting together a playlist of a few simpler songs (mostly riding the root) to play along to. Nothing fancy, but it's something to keep me occupied until I take my first lesson this Thursday.
I also went to the local music store last week and played a few other basses, just because. It's hard to say because of the difference of location and whatnot, but I think my DeArmond 4-string has the action set a little high. It might be just in my head, but then again, this bass had been in my possession for 10 years with only a few string changes and no professional setup. I'm going to see what my new teacher thinks. If it is high, I think I might try to learn to set it up myself (provided I can find my allen wrenches).