When the original BeatBuddy drum machine pedal was introduced in 2014, the concept of a guitarist-friendly drum machine in a stompbox was unique. With the recent introduction of the BeatBuddy MINI 2, the BeatBuddy series has earned plenty of acclaim, but also raises plenty of questions among newcomers. Is the BeatBuddy MINI 2 a practice tool, a performance solution, or both? Should you run your BeatBuddy MINI 2 through your amplifier, or through a separate speaker? And in general, is the BeatBuddy MINI 2 worth getting? Let’s find out!
What is the BeatBuddy MINI 2?
Just like the original BeatBuddy, the BeatBuddy MINI 2 is a drum machine (beat machine) in a guitar pedal. Based on drum samples recorded by real drummers in a pro studio, BeatBuddy MINI 2 offers nine different drum kits, and over 200 styles and genres of drum patterns to select. You can use any drum kit with any pattern that you select, allowing you to match your drum sounds to your style of music.
In action, the BeatBuddy MINI 2 operates similarly to a simple looper pedal. With just one footswitch you’re able to start your drummer, trigger fills at will, transition between chorus and verse sections, and end your song. There’s also an optional 2-button footswitch available for the BeatBuddy MINI 2 that opens up the ability to add accent hits like cymbal crashes whenever you want, pause the drums, and change settings on the pedal without reaching down for the knobs.
So, the BeatBuddy MINI 2 gives you realistic drum sounds and patterns to play over, with the ability to change song parts in real time as you play. But when it comes to adding the BeatBuddy MINI 2 to your guitar rig, is it designed to be used with a guitar amp or a full-range speaker?
Do I run BeatBuddy MINI 2 into my guitar amplifier, or to a separate speaker?
This is one of the most common questions guitarists have when they first see the BeatBuddy drum machine pedal, and it’s understandable. It has an input for your guitar and an output on the other side, so naturally it appears that it’s intended to be placed at the end of your pedal chain before your amplifier. However, you may not want to hear your drummer through your cranked Marshall tube amp — you want to hear full-range drum sounds just like you would hear from a real drummer. What’s the deal?
The key is that the BeatBuddy MINI 2’s output can also be connected to the line-level input on a mixing board or powered speaker, and you don’t even need to have a cable connected to its input for it to work. That means BeatBuddy MINI 2 can reside conveniently on your pedalboard, while you run it into a full-range speaker system or electronic drum amplifier.
However, for simple at-home practice sessions, running the BeatBuddy MINI 2’s output directly to your amplifier is a great choice too. The sound of the drums will be affected by the frequency-limited nature of your guitar amp, but the simplicity and immediacy of this setup far outweighs the sonic compromise. In other words, BeatBuddy MINI 2 is a great practice tool that can reside on your pedalboard in your normal effects pedal chain, and can also deliver high-quality, full-range sound to a separate speaker, home stereo, PA system, or recording interface.
How BeatBuddy MINI 2 can enhance practice and songwriting
Whether you’re practicing scales, exploring new chord progressions, or working on your improvisational skills, it’s simply more fun to play along with drum beats than with a metronome. And when you’re songwriting, writing new parts along with drums can help you contextualize your music and build your arrangements faster. The BeatBuddy MINI 2 basically gives you all of the fun of a drum machine, with the ability to change song parts just by holding the footswitch. You’ll never need to program a drum beat from scratch, just select from hundreds of pre-created patterns and start playing right away.
Drum machines have been available as practice tools by guitarists for decades, but programming and controlling them are obstacles that keep many players from using them. That’s why the BeatBuddy was created in the first place — to give guitarists a drum machine that works like an effects pedal, and fits into your guitar rig seamlessly.
Add drums to solo live performances with BeatBuddy MINI 2
If you’re a solo singer/songwriter, the BeatBuddy MINI 2 could be the perfect performance companion. If you play acoustic guitar through a full-range amplifier, you could use the BeatBuddy MINI 2 in your signal path to the amp for the simplest setup. You also have the option to send the BeatBuddy MINI 2’s output directly to the mixing board or powered PA speaker, without needing to connect your guitar at all. Starting and ending your song is as simple as tapping the footswitch, and transitioning between fills, verses and chorus sections is as easy as holding the switch down.
Describing how you can perform with the BeatBuddy MINI 2 sounds more complicated than it actually is — check out this demo by musician Joe Vitale Jr. and see the BeatBuddy MINI 2 in action for yourself:
If you’ve been performing live with just yourself and a guitar, adding drums with the BeatBuddy MINI 2 can take your performances to a whole new level.
How does the BeatBuddy MINI 2 compare to the BeatBuddy?
The BeatBuddy MINI 2 offers player-favorite features from the original BeatBuddy pedal in a more affordable (and slightly more compact) pedal. So, what does the BeatBuddy offer that the BeatBuddy MINI 2 does not?
BeatBuddy Manager Software
The BeatBuddy features USB connectivity that gives you access to the BeatBuddy Manager Software. With it you can upload new drum sounds, edit drum patterns to create your own unique grooves, create setlists for performances and more. If you want to dig deep into your BeatBuddy, create your own grooves, and explore new drum sounds, BeatBuddy gives you those capabilities. If you just want a great-sounding drum machine pedal out of the box and don’t want to spend time tweaking software, the BeatBuddy MINI 2 is your best choice.
BeatBuddy features MIDI In and Out (via the included 3.5-mm adapter) that allows you to sync MIDI-equipped devices to the tempo of your BeatBuddy. for example, if you use a MIDI-equipped delay pedal like the Strymon El Capistan Tape Delay pedal, your delays will follow whatever tempo your BeatBuddy is playing at. BeatBuddy MINI 2 does not feature MIDI sync, making it a more affordable option for players that don’t require advanced sync capabilities.
BeatBuddy MINI 2 uses 16-bit drum samples, while the BeatBuddy offers 24-bit sound quality. More dynamic range means more lifelike drum sounds, but you may or may not hear the difference when played through a loud PA system along with guitar and vocals in the mix.
While BeatBuddy MINI 2 features nine distinct drum kits that cover a wide range of styles, BeatBuddy allows you to load new drum sounds via USB or SD card for practically unlimited customization. You could use your own sample library, create your own sounds, or explore Singular Sound’s expansive sample library to select from a wide range of professionally-recorded drum sounds. If you want a great selection of drum sounds out of the box, and don’t ever intend to dive into customization, the BeatBuddy MINI 2 will serve you just fine.
BeatBuddy MINI 2 is the drum machine guitarists always wanted
While drum machines have always offered big creative opportunities for guitarists, both in practice and for live performance, the BeatBuddy was the first drum machine pedal created specifically for guitarists. And with the BeatBuddy MINI 2, you can get the core features of the original BeatBuddy in a more affordable package. It makes practice sessions infinitely more fun, and adding dynamic drums to your solo live performances can take your music to a whole new level. So whether you’re looking for a better metronome, a solid performance tool, or both, you definitely need to check out the BeatBuddy MINI 2!
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