Forging and Creating Your Personal Drum Sound

By Simon Ayton


Let’s explore how to create your own unique drum sound.

Given the enormous options for crafting one’s very own style and sound with electronic instruments, it’s a shame it’s so easy to give-in and just use the presets.

Presets are a great way of getting to know your new instrument and can help give a taste of its character. 

You can be certain though that all around the world people are playing the very same patches as you.

It can be a real challenge to standout and be heard if you simply use these un-edited in your music. Luckily, creating your own sounds is easy.

Here are some tips for forging and creating your own unique drum sound.

  1. Use presets as a starting point to save time
  2. Create your own drum WAV samples and loops
  3. Try to copy your favourite drum sounds by using them as a reference
  4. layer sounds to create complex sounds from elements and instruments
  5. Use built-in effects to change the character of the sound
  6. Add triggers and pads to build a hybrid electronic/acoustic kit
  7. Assign sounds to different surfaces of your kit ie: Add a second hi-hat to a rim and sound layer to your snare

Just Get Started

To get started creating your own sound creations, Investigate how some of your favourite drum sounds were created.

There are interesting ‘getting the sound’ stories from Neil Young to Daft Punk that will set you on a new path towards creating your very own unique sound.

For example, did you know that Phil Collin’s huge gated drum sound for ‘In The Air Tonight’ was actually discovered totally by accident while he was drumming on a Peter Gabriel album?

Phil loved the sound so much, he hired the engineer Hugh Padgham to use the same technique on his own chart topping album ‘Face Value’ when he’d finished drumming on Peter’s.

Did you know?

 That instantly identifiable drum machine at the start of ‘In the Air Tonight’ is a Roland CR-78…the first programmable drum machine from 1978. The instrument also features in Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’, Ultravox’s ‘Vienna’ and many other well known songs from that era.

These examples, I think, clearly demonstrate what an important role drum sounds have in creating memorable music no matter if those sounds are acoustic, electronic or a hybrid combo of the two.

As you explore your favourite music, you’ll find a dizzying array of different sounds and textures.

Do a bit of research into the instruments used and how they were recorded. It will be a real ‘ear’ opener for you. 

It may just begin a fantastic journey and you may find you never listen the same way again!

clicktoreadHere is an in-depth article on how to use effects to forge your own sound.

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Created by Roland V-Drums specialist Simon Ayton, these patches were designed using the internal factory sounds and many of the techniques covered in the TD-50 guide. Enjoy exploring the possibilities!