Creative Drum Effects

Intrigue listeners and announce the hook with creative drum effects. These techniques are very tweakable for live performance as well.


Technique 1 Add a Break

A drum break can add splashy energy and air to a complete track. Here are our drums without a break, which come from the Urban Heat Drum Kit in a standard Reggaeton pattern:

The break I’ll add is Lou Donaldson – Ode to Billie Joe 2 from the 150 Hip Hop Drum Breaks Pack. I’ll load it into a slicer and change the order of the drum hits to better match the groove.


Now to get the break to gel with the other drums, I’ll add a little reverb and subtractive eq.


Technique 2 Bandpass Filter

A wide bandpass filter on the break will let me change my sound at different parts of the song. If I bring it down, it will sound like giant conga drums, and if I bring it up it will sound like additional shakers and cymbals. I can also sweep the whole spectrum for a cool transition, like in the following example. For extra tension I  removed the kick in the last two bars and added a cymbal hit when the bass comes in.


Technique 3 Modulate + Grain Delay

By using any sort of pitch/ring modulator followed by a grain delay, we can get a twangy drone out of our drums. I solo’d Dblue Glitch’s Modulator with an FM amount of 50 percent, and I set it to a note that matches the rest of the tune. Then I set Glitch’s Grain Delay to Global so that it’s after the Modulator in the effects chain, and I set the delay size to a timing that sounds good with the rest of the tune.

I performed a sweep that starts high and goes low because it worked well with the droning glitch effect, and I also muted the drums just before the bass drops for additional tension.

Technique 3 – Distortion and filter

Another technique for changing up drum sounds is to distort and filter it. The free plugin CamelCrusher has both and I’ll use it on my snares and shaker but not the kick. Using the default patch. I increased the Tube distortion, turned on the Compression, adjusted the filter and turned down the volume.


Want More?

Check out the Glitch Effects Part 1 Tutorial which focuses on creative effects for melodic lines.

Get the raw drum sounds in the Urban Heat and 150 Hip Hop Breaks packs (in this tutorial, only some compression was added, and of course the effects used in the tutorial!).

Author Bio: Sean Duncan is an electronic music producer and freelance writer from Seattle, WA. 

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