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This article was originally published in issue #41
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We all know the importance of playing in time and many lessons are based around the idea of playing to a metronome, but metronomes can be pretty soul destroying things that lack any kind of musical satisfaction. Drum machines have been an option but used to be complex bulky products - and that's before you even mention the quality of the sound. If you are a solo artist playing loops, then some kind of pedal operated quality drum machine would probably be welcomed. The original BeatBuddy made by Miami-based Singular Sound was hugely successful and received some very positive reviews. The company's latest innovation is the BeatBuddy Mini, a new, smaller, version of the original, with many of the BeatBuddy's features and functionality for half the price. Sounds good, but how is it in use? As always be sure to check out the video to see and hear it for yourself.
This is such an easy straightforward pedal to use straight out of the box, the “quick start” guide was very helpful, we also had the BeatBuddy footswitch to try which is an optional extra. The BeatBuddy Mini really is easy to use with just one footswitch to control a variety of functions. One press to get it going, one tap to play a fill, hold it down to Transition to a new part (Chorus, Bridge etc.), double tap to end or play an outro. The left hand knob controls the volume. The one on the right is a multi function knob. Press it to choose between Genre, you can then toggle through a wide variety of different styles from R'n'B to Metal. You have an option to create your own song from scratch, style, time signature, tempo, fills and transitions can all be programmed in, which is great as a compositional tool.
The final setting is Tempo, which is self explanatory. It's designed to be as user friendly as possible and I think Singular Sound has have achieved that goal. It's worth giving a quick mention to the additional footswitch that you will see on the video. This is an optional extra and it enables you to change everything on the BeatBuddy hands free. It also has the basic function of the right hand button pausing the BeatBuddy and the left hand one adding an accent. We ran this pedal through our in-house PA and my guitar straight into it with no amp or effects. Running the BeatBuddy through a guitar amp will work, but you won’t be doing the sounds justice, as you will end up with a very thin mono sound, so if you decide to buy one it's worth thinking about your set-up and how you will incorporate it.
The BeatBuddy Mini is a compact easy to use pedal that does exactly what it says. I enjoyed playing around with it, and for me it would be a fantastic practice tool for working on time and groove based playing, far more satisfying musically than a metronome. The sound quality was OK, although I have to say that many of the sounds were very similar, I didn’t really notice a difference between the Funk drum kit and the Metal one, for example, and as is often the case with these programmed things the Jazz groove did not inspire, with its over-zealous ting, ting, ting ting.
The additional footswitch is cool, I like the pause feature as it stops the track dead, whereas if you double tap the BeatBuddy to stop you end up having to hear a one bar outro. However, I wasn’t a massive fan of the accent feature, the one cymbal was very harsh and high in the mix, making it not suitable for every style. If you are into looping and going out to do solo gigs then this will work great and the sounds are perfectly good enough, just don’t expect it to be a replacement drummer, just yet...!