Here’s a video of Jeff talking about bass guitar and metronomes.
I don’t totally agree with what Jeff says….even though he would absolutely kick my ass at a bass contest!…but the key takeaway here is this: learn thoroughly out of time before you try playing in time!
(If you’re interested I just reviewed Jeff’s DVD in the latest edition of? First Bass And Beyond)
As Jeff says, there is always one exception, and at least one in Rock and Roll; In the studio, Paul McCartney uses click track all the time. I am not sure that the metronome (as Paul Wolfe points out) is much or possibly any good when learning a song, especially for beginners, since you often need to count the notes out, unless the pattern is one you are comfortable with, but at some point you have to end a one or two bar riff at the same time as everyone else does, even if you are struggling with a pattern, and a metronome reminds you that you need be on “One” with everyone else. In most groups there is a guy kicking a base drum, and his beat is just as tyranical as a metronome (the first time Booker T. worked with Al Jackson Jr., in the middle of a gig, Al asked him in areally unhappy manner, “Do you ever keep time?”). At some point you will know what beat you are on and which measure you on (if not, the rest of the band may play on your solo). So dismissing a metronome entirely won’t help. 88 members of a symphony orchestra can not work out time among themselves.