Sunday, January 30, 2011

Metronome acquired: Korg MA-30

Last week, I bought a $20 gift card to Amazon.com for $10 from LivingSocial.com (kind of a Groupon.com competitor that does localized coupon deals, from what I can gather). Later that week, I was doing some research into metronomes, and low and behold, I found one I liked on Amazon.com for $19.

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.
Two other features that I'm really happy with are a small plastic arm that swings out from the back of the metronome to prop it up like a picture frame and a different beep on the 1 beat.

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.

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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).

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