Best Music Shaker 2020: Percussion Shaker For Live Performance, Studio - Rolling Stone
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The Best Percussion Shakers For the Stage or Studio

These shakers deliver professional sound, no matter your setting

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When it comes to creating smooth percussion sounds, handheld shakers are a simple means of adding additional sonic layers to musical arrangements. With the right textures and volume capacity, the shaker’s unique sound will not only be noticed while recording in the studio, but in a live performance setting as well.

What Are the Best Percussion Shakers?

Selecting the best music shaker comes down to comfort and ease of use. Since shakers are handheld and building a rhythm requires constant motion, the shaker’s shape and material composition are two of the most important considerations. While many have a cylinder shape that makes for an easy grip, some have heftier, geometric builds that require more precision when handling the instrument. The materials used – which can vary from wood, aluminum, or plastic – not only determine the level of comfort experienced by your hands, but also the qualities of the emitted sound.

Plastic shakers offer classic, well-defined sounds, and the durable body helps amplify the instrument’s volume. Some plastic models are built with externally facing textures, which enhances the overall quality of the sound.  On the other hand, aluminum shakers give off a naturally brighter and louder sound which is often preferred in live situations. As an alternative to both, wooden shakers build on the classic, crisp sound of standard shakers and add a bit of warmth to the music’s overall quality.

Whether you’re a seasoned percussionist building up the components of your studio or just a beginner in search of a reliable instrument that can add texture to your recordings, these handheld shakers offer a variety of choices when it comes to building distinct percussion sounds.

1. Meinl Percussion StudioMix Shaker

This plastic-bodied, 9.25-inch handheld shaker creates smooth percussion sounds ideal for sessions spent in the recording studio. Indentations on the shaker’s surface enhance the sound’s timbre and keep it at a volume where the distinctness of the sound remains intact instead of fading into the background.

Measuring 2.5 inches wide, the shaker fits comfortably in the hand. This easy-grip experience is also reinforced by the plastic’s indentations.

Pros: Added texture on the body, useful in recording studios.

Cons: Less optimal for live sessions.

Buy: Meinl Percussion StudioMix Shaker at $24.99

2. RhythmTech RT2019 Studio Shaker

This nine-inch, cylinder-shaped shaker is equipped with an internal structure that works to control its sound, making it ideal for creating rhythm in the recording studio. Not only do the internal dampening ridges give you better control of the sound, but they also help bring a dry, crisp quality to the music as well. We also appreciate this shaker’s seamless design that enhances its sturdy construction and aesthetic appeal.

Pros: Designed for sound control, great for the studio.

Cons: Some may prefer a textured surface. 

Buy: RhythmTech RT2019 Studio Shaker at $16.24

3. Tycoon Percussion TWHS-6 Jam Shaker

While it’s hard not to admire this shaker’s expert craftsmanship and the pleasing timbers of Jamjuree wood, the warm tone it creates ought not to be overlooked in the process. Not only can it be used in the studio, but this shaker also enhances acoustic, live performances as well. The heft of its hexagonal design may take some adjustment, but a serious percussionist with an admiration for shaker sounds will see this as a must-have for his or her collection.

Pros: Beautiful craftsmanship, warm sound.

Cons: Hefty design.

Buy: Tycoon Percussion TWHS-6 Jam Shaker at $31.99

4. Rhythm Tech RT 2040 Live Shaker

When it comes to performing live, you need a shaker that won’t be drowned out by other instruments. Thanks to an aluminum body and 12.8-ounce weight, this shaker can create a robust volume that holds up in live scenarios. Additionally, the aluminum creates a bright sound that you may not be able to get when dealing with other materials. We also love this shaker for the pop of color it brings to your gear.

Pros: Great for live performances, gives off loud volume.

Cons: Studio artists may prefer a softer sound.

Buy: Rhythm Tech RT 2040 Live Shaker at $44.29

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