Reply To: How do you tune your drums?

,Robert Kramer

For my kick, I almost always hit on the tonic of the track, but the “pressure point” (i.e. the area around 100-120 Hz where it punches, before hitting the sub-range) is typically the third of the scale of the track, or something close that hits around those frequencies. I use that Kick 2 plugin to make the bodies of my kicks, and layer them with various Slate Drums kicks, process, resample, etc. That’s usually it for kicks – creative processing, sure, but no re-pitching, at least not yet.

Same method with snares, except I use that drum synth Mefjus shows in that masterclass (I forget the name), along with Slate Drums again. I usually tune them to the third of the scale, process, blend, resample, etc. Then, I pitch them up to the fifth of the scale with Ableton’s “Beat” warp mode (so from Ab to C in F minor, for example). I find the fifth hits in the “pocket” between jump-up and neuro style snares… not too much of either – just a clean punch. I rarely re-pitch stuff, mostly ’cause Ableton’s algorithm isn’t great… but for snares, if you don’t go too extreme, it usually preserves it well. I also have pitch-shifting plugins and software, but they usually mess with the transient too much to warrant it. And the reason I don’t do it in Slate is ’cause it tends to “break up” a bit when you push it too far, and most snares hit around F-Ab by default anyways (it’s very “rock” sounding – made to punch around 200Hz).

Hi-hats, I usually “tune” via EQ tbh… I should experiment with re-pitching them though, cause they’re usually not transient-rich in my tunes, more of a wash of noise that moves in time with the beat. But changing them up with EQ can “re-pitch” them in a psycho-acoustic sort of way.

As for transients, I’ve found this video helpful (and funny to boot):

That’s one method of synthesizing transients to layer with snares. I used to do that… now I’m lazy and use the SPL Transient Designer+, which lets you select the frequency center where you want to boost the transient. I usually add it in around 1000-2500Hz for a snare… partly on recommendations by way of a MethLab article on “the perfect snare,” and then by listening to where it sounded good and limiting the range on the Ableton rack’s macro to that range. As for where to add it on kicks… that’s something I’m still trying to figure out. I find kicks are more varied than snares, at least when it comes to transient placement in the spectrum.

Hope that helps!

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