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A Complete X-Ray Of Kick Drums – Producer’s Guide

Kick Drums Tutorials Guides

The following guide deeply explores the kick drums, bass drum for electronic dance music beats. A complete X-RAY of making a drum beat and having a personalized drum ready to be layered with any recorded drum to be used in any genre of mixes. The guide is for music enthusiastic people who love exploring music/sound hardware and software or anything related to music. Professionals will love to check out a new view point of what they have been doing already.

A basic kick drum

If you have recorded a drum or a snare from a live drum kit and observed how it looks like when loaded in software, you will find the wave similar to image as shown below.

A basic kick drum

A basic kick drum usually has three parts:

  1. CLICK: As the name suggests it is basically a click that contributes higher frequencies in the spectrum and is of very short time interval.
  2. POP: It is the basic middle frequency punch and basic thumping sound in the drum.
  3. BODY: It is the decaying/fading part of the drum whose length usually describes the length of kick drum.

NOW please note that basic guide is about making a personalize layer of drum and we will achieve this by making a personalized kick drum having a click and a body. Layering it with a recorded/ downloaded drum sample will get us to almost beat ready drum that can be used in mixes straight away. (NOTE: The only thing needed will be equalization as per rest of the mix.)

Beat can be synthesized in any plugin having all the components and signal routing components. (NOTE: Majority do have it.)


Kick Drum Tutorial
One of the first steps will be to apply a sine wave frequency oscillator with a simple low pass filter. The output from the oscillator must be controlled by an ADSR envelope. An ADSR envelop will have attach, decay, sustain and release options. (NOTE: To start with put all four options to zero and increase decay to 50% and release to 25%, while experimenting these two knobs, you will find the right length for your output kick drum volume.)

A similar noise oscillator is routed to the mixer as done for sine oscillator. (NOTE: ADSR for noise oscillators must have low values for both decay and release.)

By now if you press a low octave note on your MIDI/PC KEYBOARD you will have a low tom type drum. Let’s go ahead and make this little more sweet.


Kick Drum Tips
Modulation pitch with high values will make the drum sound more like synth sound you hear along with bass. But our goal is to make a sweet drum and not a synth hence have a lower value for pitch. (NOTE: if the pitch of drum is modulated by ADSR envelope a low decay and release value with attack and sustain to zero will give good results.)


Kick Drum Modulation
Modern virtual synthesizers do have the option of feedback as well. But it is achievable in other VST’s as well by simply routing the output volume to modulate the two low pass filter (single filter can also be used to filter both sine and noise oscillator) and creating a feedback signal for the oscillators used. The feedback signal can be used to modulate other components also like resolution, distortion depending on the synthesizer used.


Now you can use the above guide to make awesome custom and personalized beats that can be easily layered to any drum sound to have a groovy, techno, distorted kick of your own.(NOTE: You can make awesome sounds in any VST using the above guide but don’t limit yourself from experimenting to make personal synth, drums, toms. However snares, claps, bass will have a completely different approach.)

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