I sure did. With all of the focus on kicks, snares, and hats, the drum track is and always will be the backbone of any dope beat. But it can be hard to come up with a tight drum loop because often times, the drum samples we use just suck.
Some producers are lucky enough to have a drum set in their studio, so they always have some nice, clean drum sounds at their disposal. The rest of us are left to fend for ourselves and scour the internet, vinyl, and that old guy on the street banging spoons. But could your drum worries be fixed with one simple trick?
Two Drum Tracks Are Better Than One
Usually when I’m creating my drum loop, I grab the three basic drum sounds known to man: kick, snare, and hat. You can take it a step further and throw in other stuff like toms and cymbals, but I like to keep it simple because simple always wins!
Just last night I was throwing together a beat and I found some nice drums that were left open on some Jazz track that I found. It was great because I had never heard this loop before so I felt like some special one of a kind sampling God that all producers will soon bow down to.
The drums sounded great, but then I chopped them up.
I ended up in one of those situations where the drums are nice but after being chopped, they sucked. So what I did was I quickly turned to EQ and filters, trying desperately to mask how crappy the drums sounded. No luck.
I then did what most producers today will find themselves doing, and I added an 808 kick to the beginning of each four bars. Boom, I thought I had it. But then I listened for a bit and realized that the 808 part sounded great, but the rest of my dull, dry loop will still dull and dry.
Bring In The Second Track
This is when I decided to try something else, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. I dug deep and found a breakbeat that was very busy-sounding (so it would fill out the track), and I chopped it into a 4 bar loop. I then looped it up and played it back – beautiful.
When I heard the breakbeat playing on top of my own drum creation, it sounded so much better than the original version because my beat just sounded complete, instead of boring and dry. The only problem I had now was that my drums didn’t mesh too well with the breakbeat because the break was old and dusty, and my drums were clean and dry.
When In Doubt, Filter
I love Maschine. The fact that I can quickly add some grit to my sounds, just makes everything sound so much better. With my clean drums, it was easy for me to add a low pass filter on the snare, as well as the kick (which had to be bumped up with a bit with compression). The hat was good to go, but just to be sure, I added a vintage filter to it, making it sound like an MPC60.
Everything worked out well, and even though I was messing with filters and EQ, it was mainly because of the breakbeat that I decided to add to my mix, rather than replace my drum track.
That’s usually what happens when I have trouble creating a drum loop – I just chop up a breakbeat instead, since it sounds dope to begin with.
What’s great about having the two drum tracks though, is the fact that I can now have breakdowns in my mix where I mute either track, which gives my beat a nice little section that sounds cool.
Even though I had the 808 kick drum earlier on my clean drums, I still kept it in because it really fills out the low end on my track. And with the breakbeat added into my mix, it got me pumped up enough that I kept digging and found other sounds that I ended up using.
So if your drum track is a bit boring and you want to change it up, it may not be the sounds you’re using, or the EQ plug-in that you rely on heavily, but it could be just a matter of having two drum tracks playing in unison. Give it a try and see for yourself!