Producer Tips: Picking the Perfect Drum Samples

Picking the right drums can make or break your track. I guess I’m lucky because I was taught this from the very beginning. When I started messing around with drum machines I had to rely on a equalizer to kind of boost up the sounds from the drum machine. The TR-808 was tricky because it was either very High or really Low. Once sampling came into play it was easy to create kits by chopping (taking kick, snares and hi hats) to reprogram into new patterns. Now I was able to mess with the pitch and speed to give me different variations of the drums to fit into whatever new project I was working on. A lot of production would sound off because the drums were in the wrong key so to speak. When a drummer sets up his/her drum set they have to tune it first. Well the same holds true for sampled drums. Of course drums will bang hard right out the gate, but imagine if you took the time to get the drums in the right key as the other sounds in the production… You’d have that track banging CRAZY!!!

ADSR is another friend that gets overlooked too. Now we all love those HARD HITTING DRUMS, but sometimes a nice subtle kick and snare can be way more effective than a in your face drum kit. I call it the less is more theory. Try a basic boom bap pattern and then add a little attack and decay to the kick and snare and see how it sounds. Now it’s not an exact science, but with a little trial and error you’ll come up with a technic that fits into your workflow in no time.

Filtering is another technique that I like to use when producing. I like to call this… Taking the edge off. Sometimes taking the edge off gives your track new dynamics. A lot of club music use a lot of heavy filter sweeps. That’s where I 1st heard super muffled kicks and snares and thought it was dope.

Now a lot of these techniques get over looked because of how people get their drums nowadays. They buy them pre sampled already…Shout out to the Drum Broker. And don’t take it the wrong way because there’s nothing wrong with buying drums. I just come from the era where we had to dig for our drums and every other sample for that matter. I remember spending countless hours looking for kicks, snares, hi hats, horns etc. That’s why all my drums are special to me. I know where each and everyone comes from. My drums are like my children.

The game sort of took an evil turn when some record labels started making those breakbeat compilations. A lot of producers were feeling some type of way because it was disrespectful how these companies were giving up information that took us YEARS to obtain. Like somebody all of a sudden gave up the colonels eleven herbs and spices. I remember Show Biz caught me with a break beat album and broke it across his knee flung it across the street and said “if you don’t own the record then you can’t make the beat”. Truthfully, I just wanted it for the art work. This one series called “Ultimate Breaks & Beats” had some real cool graffiti art work that I liked so from time to time I would buy them. I still have them sealed in my collection to this day and I replaced the one Show broke lol.

Well I hope this was helpful. We need to aspire to inspire to keep our culture alive. Stay Diggin’… Peace

I’m the boss, I don’t make copies, I make originals.


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