Drum samples are incredibly useful in a number of ways. Firstly, they can be one of the quickest and easiest means to lock down your song’s backbone by programming grooves using a drum VST or your DAW’s built-in sampler. Even free drum samples have gotten so good that it isn’t unheard of for solo artists to release finished albums with entirely programmed “acoustic” drums.
Secondly, you can use really great sounding drum samples to replace parts of a recorded performance. Drummers don’t always hit with the same consistency throughout a take, so you can go back and replace flubs with a sample. You might also look to a sample to beef up a kick drum, for instance. On that note, it’s also a good idea to record your own one-shots during the session so you can edit in the drummer’s own hits.
Today’s best drum samples are performed by professional drummers in top-of-the-line studios, running through expensive mics, preamps, and compressors to give you an incredible sound right inside your DAW. There are plenty of high quality free drum samples out there as well if you do a bit of digging!
A few years back, we had an amazing day at Tommy Lee’s studio — “The Atrium”— recording a bonus tutorial for Matt Starr’s course: Producing & Recording Drums. As you would expect from the studio of one of the world’s greatest drummers , “The Atrium” is one of the best equipped studios in LA, and it has an absolutely incredible sounding live room.
At the time, we’d gotten a lot of questions about the Glyn Johns drum miking technique which was used on big-time rock records by Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, so we took this opportunity to have Smiley Sean, Tommy Lee’s house engineer, explain how to use this method in detail. We also experimented with more modern miking techniques that day, using a full set of lovely microphones and recording chains.
The samples Matt Starr recorded at Tommy Lee’s studio are available for free here.
99 Drum Samples is a free collection of electronic and acoustic drum hits which have been built from scratch and processed with internal and external audio gear. The owner of the pack has been building this personal collection of drum samples for years, and it’s now available for free.
The sounds were recorded from various analogue and digital sources and processed through a collection of outboard gear. The owner’s favorite parts of the pack are the drum machine sounds and acoustic drum hits which he recorded to a cassette tape in order to enhance them with a bit of punch and grit. Some of the included drum hits were also passed through an old tape delay unit, creating a “warm,” organic sound.
The pack includes a selection of modern electronic drum samples, some acoustic drums (captured with a trusty Edirol R-09 recorder), and a set of drums which were synthesized with different instruments (including the Korg Electribe ER-1 drum machine and the Lell UDS analog drum generator). Also included is a small set of lo-fi drums which were recorded from various toy instruments like the Yamaha DD-5.
As the name suggests, these free drum samples include 99 individual hits in 24-bit WAV format. The samples have been carefully edited, trimmed, and normalized to -0.1 dB (except for some of the cymbal hits which are peaking around -3 dB). Of course, they’re royalty free, so you can use them in any of your projects!
Drumdrops has sampled a huge selection of drum kits for numerous genres. Their prices are affordable overall (right around $6 per drum set), but they also have a rotating selection of free samples to download and add to your collection. Right now, they’re offering a Tama drum kit geared towards funk drumming.
The Tama Pocket Funk Kit has Drumdrops quality stamped all over it. If you want modern, snappy funk kit sound, then this is a great place to start. Check back every once in a while to see what they’re giving away next!
Big Mono is a roomy rendition of a loveable vintage Ludwig kit with a Rogers Dynasonic snare, classic Zildjians, and a Sabian ride for good luck. Recorded in mono using a decca-tree configuration supplemented with spot mics for detail, this kit sounds organic and retro with a spacious vibe.
The only potential drawback with these free drum samples is that they have a ton of reverb on them. If you’re going for a washy psychedelic vibe, though, this is a great kit to check out.
This is easily one of the best free drum sample packs out there!
DrumMic’a is an extremely elaborately produced virtual instrument for the KONTAKT Player from Native Instruments. Among other things, it contains more than 13,000 free drum samples.
What you can expect: 15 Sennheiser and Neumann microphones on a genuine drum set, recorded in a professional studio, reworked through the integrated software studio, plus 1,200 authentic beats played by a professional drummer.
DrumMic’a can be used in any digital audio workstation and for your own productions. And best of all: Sennheiser and Neumann provide the software as part of a freeware licence which means unlimited use once you have entered the free registration code!