Bass drum is a generic term, defining a large drum that produces a note of low definite or indefinite pitch. Considering this, a bass drum can be just anything, from the kick drum to the Italian gran cassa, or the pitched bass drum used in marching bands or just a synth drum.
The idea is to have fun when creating your bass drum and mix different sources to find the perfect sound for your specific production.
There are many ways to create the bass drum for your projects, I will give you my tips to have an interesting and powerful drum. I’m sure it will help you.
DEMO Music Track for this lesson.
If you work well on frequencies, you can create a powerful and catchy track with very simple elements.
What you hear is not what you feel
The bass drum is made of different frequencies and you have to consider all of them to create the perfect sound. This means that what you get with your ears is not what you exactly feel with your heart (usually below 100hz).
My tip is to focus on two different bass samples, one that shakes you and one that please your ears. Then mix them.
In any case, while mixing them you have to modify them and see the results in real time.
How to modify them?
From my free Audio Mastering Guide: “Compressors can be single band or multi band. They just do a simple task. When the output gain of the band exceeds a certain point (we call it threshold), it turns down the volume. How much the volume is turned down is called ratio.
The “magic” is to find the right threshold and ratio. The result of this work is that we can boost the overall volume. If we compress the peaks of the mix, we can pump the volume without loading excessively.”
From 2:1 to 8:1, these are good ratio values to start with, ranging from light to heavy. You can start with a medium value anyway and see the differences playing several times the sample.
The threshold must be found carefully as well, so play with the knob until you find a position you like. Don’t forget that as the threshold is lowered the kick becomes quieter.
You have to check also the attack, since for bass drums it must be quick.
Finally, pump the output gain.
The EQ is another important step. I like to add 3 bell boosts (graphically are frequency boosts similar to a shape of a bell).
The lower bell is at around 60hz. The idea is to create the “effect that you feel”. You should work on the sample chosen for this task (remember? We are mixing two samples).
The next bells are at mid and higher frequencies and must be applied to create the “effect that you hear”. You add this way also some punch and presence. The sound will be definite and unique.
All this work can be done also on a single kick drum sample, but the mixing of 2 different samples really creates an impressive sound!
How to make it more professional. Depending the hardware used, you’ll find something similar to a sustain when dealing with the sample.
This creates a “wet” sound, like a “splash”. I like it, others don’t. Just try and experiment. Too much doesn’t work. You need to find the right setup.
In any case, it’s much better to apply changes and effects in small percentages only. If you exaggerate you can ruin the entire work.
Recommended Free Software, could need an external VST host application:
- MDrummer Small (500 MB of samples, multisamples, rhythms and other data, completely free!)
- Analogue Drums Big Mono (Big Mono is a roomy rendition of a ’70s vintage Ludwig kit with a Rogers Dynasonic snare, classic Zildjians, and a Sabian ride)
- Drumatic 3 (free virtual analogue drum synth, if you like it, consider buying the new edition Drumatic 4).
- EXD 80 (free drum synthesizer).
- Audiocation free plugins (compressor, EQ)
- Sascha Eversmeier free plugins (compressor, EQ)
- Plektronfx has good free plugins.