When I reflect on those that inspired me to play drums, I find a few characteristics in common: attitude, big sounds, cool grooves, but most importantly, solid tempo.
I started playing drums at age 15 (2000) and remember my teacher telling me to practice with a metronome. There was a problem… It never was loud enough, and I had no way to plug in headphones.
Somehow I was able to make it work; however, I’m kind of jealous of all the new drummers coming up, wishing I had something like that when I was learning.
From an educator standpoint, teaching tempo is one of the most challenging concepts to teach. You are explaining that playing speed has to be the same while also being conscious of when you’re dragging or rushing.
It is an inevitable long process to assimilate, but fortunately, tools like BACKBEATER help with the process.
The Backbeater App and Hardware
Traditional metronomes rely on the musician to make the judgment if they are playing in time. The BACKBEATER app is clean and aesthetically pleasing.
It has five built-in sounds (hot dog is my favorite one), control for the sensor threshold, tap/play tempo setting, and more. The same controls are shared in the BACKBEATER circular app as well, which I will like to spend time with it since visually feels more comfortable to me.
The unboxing experience is very pleasing. Every component is clearly labeled and instructions with image are helpful as well. Inside the box you will find the sensor, clip & splitter & instruction manual.
The construction of each component—the attachment clip is made out of metal and has two lips bend to help it secure in between the rod and the snare hoop.
The sensor feels solid— there’s no fear of any jiggling or loosening of components. It has a very strong adhesive and it does not feel giving up at all.
One feature that impressed me is that the sensor’s housing rotates to release the tension of the already well-constructed cable.
The splitter shares the same quality construction and clearly labels where the sensor goes. The optional cellphone mount is small and noninvasive enough that could be left in the stand if you intend to gig with it. Just like the other components of the BACKBEATER sensor is well constructed.
I have been playing drums for almost 20 years and I still feel inspired by drummers such as Carter McLean, Ash Soan & Mike Johnston.
Also, the maker community is another of my passion, creators like Jimmy Diresta & Bob Clagett from I Like to Make Stuff sparks the problem solver in me. Makers4Good‘s creation of BACKBEATER is a perfect example of how engineering solves musicians’ issues.
To me where the BACKBEATER excels is in the app. The hardware is as good as the software. For example, the iPhone would have never been such a great piece of technology without the efficiency and power of iOS.
The BACKBEATER app does work without the sensor, and it offers a feature only paid metronome apps have—a setlist.
For a working musician, it is super helpful to be able to have your show laid out. I’ve played with cover bands, and there have been plenty of times where I have to take out my metronome and look at my setlist notes to be able to count in the band in the right tempo.
As a teacher, having the setlist function is super helpful as well. I’m able to have preset tempos for different parts of the lesson. For example, I can have a tempo baseline for rudiments and have another tempo for different grooves and have goal tempos assigned.
Another feature is the ability to change sounds. The app has four tones, and for some reason, I enjoy the hot dog sound.
When connecting the sensor to the device, the app becomes more powerful. Inside the app, you can adjust the sensor sensitivity. This feature is essential since it allows playing ghost notes and diddles without the app picking up the vibration.
One learning curve from the app is that, although it clicks every beat, the number showed when played is half the value of the tempo. That makes a lot of sense since it picks two out of the four notes of the beat. On the other hand, the ability to average your playing for more accurate results is helpful.
In summary, the BACKBEATER is a robust app working along with solid hardware. It’s an excellent tool for teachers and working musicians.
About the Author: Harold Agosto is a Drummer & Music Educator based in New York City. Harold is the host of the podcast Drums: En Español (available on all major podcast platforms), the only drumming podcast in Spanish. His YouTube channel offers gear reviews, tips & best practices for drummers and drum lessons.