Creating Your Own Drum Samples: Tips

Creating Your Own Drum Samples: Tips


New possibilities not only open up for practising at home, but the advantages are also obvious on stage. For example, the original sounds from a studio production can be integrated into the live performance via sample import.

Create drum samples: expand your sound arsenal

Most drummers don’t put a complete e-drum set on stage for this purpose, but rather a hybrid kit made up of acoustic and electronic components. In general, the basic components of the acoustic set are expanded here with triggers – which are often used on the bass drum and snare – and/or drum pads. The module of a conventional e-drum set can be used as the sound source for the samples, but there are also separately available sound modules that are specially designed for hybrid drumming.

Millenium MPS-850 electronic drum set

Millenium MPS-850 electronic drum set

Create drum samples yourself: Trigger

Trigger elements make it possible to supplement the basic sound of a drum with a sample, for example to add a handclap sound to the snare or to help the bass drum to have deeper bass with a corresponding sample. The triggers are usually installed on the rim of the drum. The options are now plentiful and you can save a lot of money by buying several triggers in a set instead of individually. Additional drum pads can be integrated anywhere in the acoustic set using multi-clamps and brackets. They are often assigned percussion sounds, but starting and stopping loops via a pad is also very popular. Both pads with rubber surfaces and the quieter mesh head pads are suitable for this.

2box TriggerIt trigger set

2box TriggerIt trigger set

Create drum samples yourself: some tips

When using samples on a drum set, certain guidelines should be considered, whether they are drum samples, melodic fragments or loops. For example, it makes work a lot easier if you edit the samples to be used on the computer before exporting them to the sound module – even if some sound modules allow you to edit the samples directly in the device. Not only the editing, but also the management of the samples is much more comfortable on the big screen than on the mini display of a sound module. The same applies to the naming of the files, which should be clear and unique so that samples can be found quickly in the long sound lists of the module.

Create drum samples: keep it clean

Incidentally, the following tips apply to all recording programs such as Logic Pro, CubaseAbleton Live or Pro Tools. Before the samples are exported, they should first be cut cleanly. For this it is necessary to zoom into the waveform, as far as possible,  in order to determine the exact starting point. In the case of sounds that do not have a clear attack, it is important to ensure that the beginning of the sample is not used, for example the sound of a saxophone being played WILL be cut off. But don’t worry, the more you deal with editing waveforms on the computer, the easier it will become. Don’t forget that the decay phase of the sample also needs to be trimmed correctly. Have fun experimenting!

Ableton Live 11 Suite

Ableton Live 11 Suite

 

Create drum samples: check cut, volume and format

If the cut sample is now to be exported, it is advisable to move it to the start of the timeline in the recording software and check the start and end points again. If the samples are to be played back as loops in the sound module, you must also make sure that they are of the correct length so that the loop can be seamless. To avoid loss of volume when exporting, most programs have a normalization function that ensures that the sample is exported at the highest possible volume without distortion. Before exporting, it is important to clarify which file formats are accepted by the sound module into which the samples are to be imported. For example, many modules cannot process MP3 files, but only WAV files with a certain data rate. There are also devices that only recognize mono samples.

Create drum samples yourself: your own sounds in the sound module

After the successful import into the sound module, a decision must be made as to how many pads and triggers are required for the detailed implementation of the sample. If you want to play the groove of the studio production with the original sounds on the drum set, in many cases two pads are sufficient in addition to the bass drum and the snare trigger, which means that a total of four sounds would be available. And if you consider that many drum pads are equipped with two trigger zones (skin and rim), you could even integrate up to six samples in this simple constellation. When triggering percussive loops, for example a 16th-note shaker loop, there are various possibilities with regard to the loop length.

DDrum DDDTS Snare Drum Trigger Pro

DDrum DDDTS Snare Drum Trigger Pro

In such a case, it is usually best, for retaining flow, to shorten the loop to the length of a quarter note, i.e. 4 shaker movements. The sample is still long enough to retain the character of the loop, the beats on the quarters can be easily integrated into the beat. In some cases, however, it can also make sense to divide the quarter note into two eighths, but to play them on two different playing surfaces, for example on the pad surface and the rim. This creates a slightly different feeling, and accommodates the typical 8th-note movement on the the hi-hat.

Millennium MD-90 Mobile Drum

Millennium MD-90 Mobile Drum

Create drum samples: How your sounds fit the acoustic kit

With a microphoned drum set, when playing the bass drum and snare triggers, you should pay attention to whether the layered sounds, which sound simultaneously with an original sound of the drum via the PA, lead to cancellations or other undesirable effects. This is often the case when the sample is very similar to the original sound. This can be remedied by reducing frequency ranges that are strongly represented in both sounds, for example the deep bass range of the bass drum, in the sample in order to bring more clarity to the sound image. Likewise, under-represented frequencies, for example the attack sound, can be boosted in the sample. In any case, remember that it is much easier to adjust the sample sound than to change the sound of the acoustic drum via the mixer.

Video tutorial

Fred shows you how to prepare your drum samples and get them from a studio production to your e-drum set. Enjoy the video!

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Joe has been singing since he can remember and started playing guitar when he was 10. He's been using it as a songwriting tool ever since. He is passionate about melody and harmony and admires musicians who create these in unique ways. Check out his alternative / indie projects Best of Feelings and Zef Raček.

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