The Classic Pendulum Mechanical Metronome
The pyramid or obelisk shape of the Wittner metronome is an easily recognizeable icon. I use it as a personal icon as elantock when I interact with other musicians on social media.
Every kind of metronome has some good features and some drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the Wittner to see what they are.
I use this one often in my personal fiddle and violin music practice, and in my studio teaching. The advantages are:
- Easy to use
- Good strong sound
- Never needs batteries, or to be plugged in
- Handy-always in place
The last advantage depends on your personal set up for music practice. Because of its appealing shape and symetry it looks good quietly standing on a surface, ready to be used.
I leave my Wittner on the fireplace mantel until I’m ready to use it. Then, I move it a few feet to a table that is convenient in my studio. During a violin or fiddle lesson it stands on this table ready for use.
It is not quite as easy to use as Dr Beat, but you can still change the speed with one hand. That’s a good feature when your other hand is holding your music instrument.
The Franz metronome can also be changed with one hand, but the start and stop switch is on the opposite side of the speed adjustment dial.
The Wittner allows you to nudge the weight up or down one notch and then easily pull the pendulum to the side to begin its motion. Moving the weight one notch is customary in using this metronome. Digital metronomes allow smaller increments of speed, but that has a downside. (I’ll get to that when I write about Dr Beat.)
This is the metronome in my earliest years as a violin student. Well, the same type. The one pictured was manufactured recently by the Wittner company.
They also make an excellent violin tailpiece with built in fine tuners. They even make special tuning pegs that have planetary gears inside so you don’t need fine tuners. (I haven’t used their pegs because I got started with Knilling Perfection pegs, which do the same thing.)
But I do have the Wittner metronome. I’ve been using it lately to demo how to use a metronome to my students.
This metronome has several advantages for music students.
- It needs no batteries. You wind it up. (But, careful, not too much.)
- It gives a loud tock that can be heard over most instruments.
- It is set up for jumps in speed that are not too big or too small.
That last feature could be a disadvantage if you wanted a speed that is “between the notches.” You would most likely have to use both hands to set the weight exactly where you wanted for the in between speed. But, fussy as it is, it’s doable. I question whether it is advisable.
The tocks are all at the same sound level. There is no different sounding tock at the beginning of a four or three count. That is not really a problem, but electronic metronomes typically give youa unique sound for the beginning of the bar. If ind that I have to wait for the first beat with that kind of metronome. With the Wittner, there is no waiting.
In the above image you can see the upside down trapezoidal shape of the pendulum weight. You move it higher on the shaft, which pivots from the bottom, to get slower speeds. The lower it is on the shaft, the faster it tocks along.
And here it is on Amazon: