Quick Tip #7 – Tuning 808 Kicks

Tuning 808 Kicks


What do the songs below have in common? All-time hip hop classics? Perhaps… But I do think that all these beats bang quite hard through my speakers. Why is that? Because in both songs the 808 kicks are tuned well! And that makes a huge difference for the impact and power of your beat!

That’s why in this Quick Tip, you will learn how you can do this yourself the hard way and the easy way!


Tuning your drum sounds can have a great impact on your beats and I therefore strongly encourage you to experiment with it. But as long as you start with solid samples, tuning your drum sounds is definitely not essential for creating a pounding beat. However, there is one vital exception: 808 kicks.


808 kicks are basically
bass instruments


This is because 808 kicks are basically bass instruments, usually with a distinct tone or pitch. So, when you put an untuned 808 kick in your beat, it is basically as if you let your bass guitar play random notes. And that’s definitely not what you want. Hence, my advise is: always tune your 808 kicks to the best of your ability!

Technique #1: Tuning each 808 kick

But of course, the question is: how? The first step of the rather inefficient option is to determine which tones you need. For example, if you are working on a beat consisting of the chords G minor, F minor, and C minor, you know that you will need an 808 in the tones of G, F, and C respectively. Then you take the 808 kick drum sample that you want to use, copy it three times and tune one to G, one to F, and one to C.

The obvious disadvantage of this method is that it is devious and time-consuming; you have to ‘create’ new 808 kicks for nearly every beat!

Roland TR-808 – The original source of the 808 drums

Technique #2: Tuning only one 808 kick

Again, start with finding the perfect 808 kick for your beat. Then, find out how you can use the Keygroup function in your DAW or drum computer. When you understand the Keygroup function, load the 808 sample you want to use and take some time to pitch it perfectly to C5. Then, save it and you’re done for years to come, because the Keygroup function will copy, paste and adapt the 808 sample so that it corresponds to every key on your keyboard!

Don’t have any good 808 kicks to experiment with? Download my free drum kit!

Quick Tip #7 Tuning Your 808 Kick Drum:

Invest some time and effort and maybe ask some help to tune your favourite 808 kicks perfectly to C5 and make Keygroups out of them. This will basically turn every 808 kick into a tuned bass instrument and will save you loads of time pitching 808 kick samples separately every time!


Read More: Quick Tip #8 – Harmonics

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