Ableton Live How to – Use Ableton to Get the Perfect Kick Drum By Alan Clark

When it comes to making beats in Ableton Live, or any other software for that matter, people often struggle to get the really heavy thud that you tend to hear in professionally produced music.

This can be a combination of a few things but usually it comes down to lack of knowledge when it comes to preparing your sounds and giving them space in the mix.

It is often worth remembering that it is harder to get really crisp and fat bass thuds using software as opposed to using a decent drum machine but that does not mean it cannot be done.

So what should you consider when making your kick and how do you go about getting a sound that makes your body shake on a big sound system?

First thing to think about is whether you want the kick drum or your bassline to carry the bulk of the low end energy. To get the results you want you really need to start thinking about each part of your track’s position in the mix.

This is sorted out by using EQ’s to give space in the mix for each part of the track. This type of thing scares a lot of people because it is thought of as being very technical but it doesn’t have to be as long as you have a good ear and work methodically. We’ll talk more about EQ’ing in another article. For now we’ll concentrate on the actual kick drum itself.

Lets assume for this example that your kick will be providing the low end energy.

Now with the drumkits you get with Ableton Live, drum plugins and easy to find samples there is a lot of different approaches you can take.

You do need to consider the fact that all these types of things have been played to death and making your kick sound original can be hard. So here’s what I would do…

I highly recommend you start to create your own kick sound by layering 2 or more different kicks with another high end noise to give the snap.

To do this on Ableton, open up a drum rack and select your first kick sample. Seeing as the kick will have the low end I would recommend grabbing an 808 kick sample as they are very deep and have solid low ends.

Next grab an auto filter and use a low pass filter to take away the mid and top end sound. This will leave you with a nice strong low end to your new kick.

Next grab another kick drum but this time look for one that has a nice mid range sound through it. (Possibly a live kick drum or whatever else you can find.

Again use one of Ableton’s auto filters but this time use a band pass filter. Band pass filters allow you to cut away the low and high end frequencies at the same time. Make sure you take away the low end as the previous 808 sample will carry this for you.

Leave as much of the high as you want, this part is up to you. It can be tweaked later to hone the sound of your kick but do take away some of the high end. You will fill this gap in a minute.

Finally you want to grab something with a sharp high end. You can use a snare, a hi hat, a clap, pretty much anything that has high frequency in it.

Again stick a filter on it and this time use a high pass filter to just leave the high end “snap”

Now you just need to play all three of these samples at the same time and just start tweaking the filters till you get a sound that you like. This ensures that you will have an original sound.

It is important when creating your kick that you use the filters to give each of the three samples their own place in the mix. You don’t want to have them crossing over too much. Remember that you are simply creating one kick out of the three separate samples.

When using a drum rack within Ableton Live, each individual sample in the rack is stored inside a simpler so you can do further tweaks to each of the three samples individually.

I highly recommend going into each sound and tweaking the filter frequency and resonance using the control knobs within simpler. You can change the sounds beyond recognition and really get creative.

Remember your kick drum will be playing throughout most of the song so the more time you spend here the better. Do your track justice and put the time in where it counts!

I understand that it is hard to follow when just reading from a written document and that is why we created a brand new website for all lovers of Ableton Live. Over there we have video tutorials in HD quality for you to watch and follow. Plus if you go there now we have also created a DJ Effects Rack for Ableton and have made it available for free download.

Visit just now and if you can’t find what you’re looking for just leave a message and we’ll look at making videos for your specific problems!

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