Drums are one of the easiest elements of a song to overdo or overproduce. I’m sure we’ve all been there where you have a wicked idea, and you throw down this PHAT drum beat and it just clutters everything and pulls away energy. IF this has happened to you, this article is for you. Brought to you by www.bitsubmit.net, if you’re looking to promote your tracks and not hear crickets on your emails to promoters… BitSubmit is your godsend.

  1. Stop Over Compressing
  • A common mistake amongst hip hop producers is that they instantly compress their drums leading them to sound over processed, this pulls out energy from the song and if no one is dancing in your room to your beat this could be why. (amongst other reasons you trash can)
  • Secondly compression and other effects are TOOLS, you wouldn’t use a paint brush that was for minute detailing to start the base layer on painting your house.
  • Open up your compressor and use a default setting/patch and start adjusting from there, it’ll provide a better starting point and then when you adjust parameters it’s going to be easier to hear the subtle differences

     2. SIMPLIFY YOUR PATTERNS Neil Peart

  • Now I know it’s tempting to create this elaborate, really complex fast and furious drum pattern. Growing up I loved listening to drum solos and was a big fan of anyone showing off on the kit.
  • As I’ve played more and produced more music, I’ve realized that a simple KICK SNARE KICK SNARE with high hats providing more of the metronome’s feel (1 2 3 4).
  • I find this to be SO MUCH more effective then blistering or super “filly” drums.
  • Take for example this Skrillex tune, it’s literally offbeat high hats, drums 4×4 and snare on 2 and 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-SurvChGFk
  • Whether you dig it or not 43 million people do, so he must be doing something right.

     3. Layer Your Drums

  • Has anyone described your drums as being lackluster, or lacking punch or clarity at certain frequencies? LOL moderately rhetorical, I know your drums need help.
  • Layering is the point at which i really started to get a grasp on drum programming/production
  • Layering a great snare, could have 3 different aspects that make it. Say you have a really strong clap sound, then you have a strong mid range snare hit, and then lastly a reverbed washy tail of a snare. If you combine these together suddenly you have a snare sound with a great attack,good sustain, and a really smooth release.
  • This process is same for the kick, in which it’s really helpful to have that thuddy low end hit, but for clarity and not getting lost in the mix or muddied its key to have a mid and possibly high frequency hitting alongside!

     4. Use Drum Breaks

  • Using drum loops, samples or breaks is an underrated tool imo
  • There is an advantage to using a preset sound/stock sound.
  • COMFORTABILITY, people naturally gravitate and feel comfortable around sounds they’re used to hearing.
  • A Lot of people say shy away from stock sounds, but I think if you properly change/adjust a preset you get the best of both worlds. You get that sound that people recognize yet you’ve added elements to make it something they’ve experienced before but different enough that it feels new.
  • If you were to use James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” break, how can anyone say your beat sucks? That’s a classic break, and even though it’s decades old and has been sampled many times, no one can get tired of that break.
  • Throw in some breaks and drum loops and then listen to your beats, guaranteed you’ll notice a little more swag in your grooves.

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