How to Amplify Your Metronome for Rhythmic Development

Playing with a metronome is a vital element in the bagpipe learning game. But, how do you play with a metronome while also playing your pipes? Typically, the volume of your bagpipes will completely drown out the piddly sound of any metronome, no matter how grand.

The best way to do this is to wear headphones connected to your metronome while piping. I do this all the time. It's easy.

But, in order to be able to work with a teacher on your rhythmic playing while using a metronome, or to record yourself piping along with the metronome, things get tricky.

The best way to do this is to amplify the metronome. But how? And, how much will it cost?

But First... A Few Things That Don't Really Work

It's tempting to try to find a workaround to this problem - here's some common ones:

"I'll just use the blue tooth speaker from the game room."

First off, Bluetooth speakers are usually still not loud enough! Second - you really are going to want your speaker to be built in to your practice space. If you always have to go to the game room, move the speaker, fiddle with the blue-tooth settings, etc, every time you practice - you're never going to use that metronome. Got me?

"I'll just run my metronome through my smart TV."

Same as above - if it's not built into your practice space, you won't use it more than a couple times.

"I'll just try my computer speakers."

This could work, but it's very rare to find computer speakers that will go loud enough to actually be useful when playing the pipes. Computer speakers that are loud enough will likely cost far more than a guitar amp.

Which leads us to...

Biting the Bullet and Getting an Amp

You're going to want at least a 15 watt guitar or keyboard amplifier. Make sure it's NOT a Bass Guitar Amplifier (although, if you have a bass amp laying around, give it a try and tell us how it goes!)

After a quick search online, I found a Rogue 15w amp that didn't break the bank.

Rogue V15G 15W 1x6.5 Guitar Combo Amp Vintage Tweed. About $70.

I try to buy new things so that my purchase has a warrantee and all that. Here's a bunch of businesses that have great reputations:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Musician's Friend
  • Guitar Center
  • Etc.
  • (PS - just google what you want and shop!)

With that said, here's a bunch of things to try if you want to try to go SUPER cheap:

  • is a great used gear site.
  • Try Craig's List.
  • Try Facebook Marketplace
  • Try eBay

Next: Hook Metronome to Amp Using Cable

The challenge is to go from your metronome's headphone jack into the amp. Headphone jacks are eighth-inch in diameter. Amps are designed for quarter-inch audio cables. You'll want at least 3 feet of slack on the connecting cable.

So what do you do?

Type this into Amazon: 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch 3ft audio cable.

Something like this will pop up:

About $8

This will be all you need to connect a typical headphone jack to your amp.

What Metronome Should I Use?

This one's easy. If you've got a smartphone, simply use any free metronome app. There's a million great ones.

Just remember, if you have a modern iPhone like me, you're going to need one of those super-annoying adapters to connect the headphone-jack end of your cable to your phone. So, add that to your shopping list (Thanks, Apple....)

Have you ever been told that you're 'rushing', 'ahead of the beat', or 'playing too clunkily'? Our Rhythm for Bagpipers will empower you to confidently play tunes with great timing, no matter how recently you started learning to play. Learn more >>

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  1. Hi Andrew
    I am still goung through the blueprint you organised.
    I love your approach to learning. I so much want to play the bagpipes well.I have some challenges with poor air capacity and very little feeling in the finger tips because of an auto immune condition known as Scleroderma. I am still determined to succeed and I think your lessons will assist greatly.

    1. Thanks for your note here Greg! We are really excited to have you on board and looking forward to helping you realize your dream. Let us know any time you need any help and we'll look forward to seeing you in and around the Dojo. Cheers, Carl

  2. I’m new to bagpipes and am determined to learn. Have my practice chanter for about 3 weeks. Have a challenge keeping my fingers in place on the notes. Any advice? I’m musical and it’s so frustrating. Thanks

    1. Hi Donnarae, Do you have some good guidance and instruction? There's enough potential little pitfalls when starting that it's worth getting some instruction from the beginning. We've got a variety of materials and resources that can help including live beginner classes where you can get some live tips and guidance. If you aren't already I'd highly suggest trying out our membership and coming to some of our live beginner classes. Just let the instructor know when you're there and what you are working on / struggling with. If you can come to my classes I'll remember your note and be able to help too. Looking forward to making the learning process a little easier and a lot more fun! Cheers, Carl

  3. I am enjoying your teaching method immensely. I have an old set of bagpipes been sitting for around 40 years. They need a little TLC like cleaning , new reeds and so on. I have always had an interest in the pipes but only no do I have a little more time on my hands. I'll continue with the blueprint until I get it as lol down , then I'll be better able to decide if I continue. I am impressed so far with what I have seen and heard and look forward to be fully integrated with the online course. It does seem a little scary but I'll bite the bullet. Many thanks Andrew