5 Essential Drum Loop Libraries for Music Production
There are a lot of drum loop libraries online these days. Finding a collection that will work with the music you compose can be tricky. In some ways, it’s like hiring a drummer. Feel and tone take high priority.
Some drum loops feel like there is no song in mind. The drum fills don’t seem to make much sense in a lot of musical applications. They can sound like a drummer just riffing. I always struggle with these. No matter where you place them, they don’t seem to gel with the music.
A great library should fit in with a lot of musical applications. This comes down to the taste and experience of the drummer recording the loops.
Sure, playing in time is important. Nobody wants a bad sounding out of time loop. This is really the most rudimentary part of a great loop though.
Feel is the champ here. I’m a self-confessed drum snob. My dad is a drummer and drums were my first instrument. In fact, I still play drums on records. I tend to be pretty sensitive about the grooves I use for composition. Is it still cool to say grooves?
For a lot of modern scoring applications, it’s not practical to record real drums. So, I lean on drum loops. I want loops that aren’t generic. I want character. You know, mojo! Ok, another word that may be out of date.
There are two companies that I use as my staples. Loop Loft and Drums on Demand. Both of these companies have figured out the “flavor” factor. They both work with drummers that have recorded a lot of records. There is a lot of finesse in the playing.
Picking a library is also about taste. Each drummer has a specific palette of colors they choose from. Each with their own unique character. As an example, no two drummers swing alike. I can write a book on this, if only I could take time away from my rock garden.
Loops vs. MIDI
There have been great advancements in software instrument drums. I do use them. EZDrummer is a fantastic plugin. I tend to go there if I need to program a specific part.
I generally prefer loops, as there is more dimension to the sound. The libraries from Loop Loft and Drums on Demand sound like a record. It’s pretty awesome.
There are many libraries to go through from each company. Let’s get the party started with my five favorites in no particular order …
Matt has been a long time favorite of mine. He’s such an interesting and creative drummer. He has so much control over his instrument, but doesn’t seem to feel the need to base his decisions on technical prowess. He’s the type of drummer that will play a fill that will fit perfectly yet be surprising. I use his libraries from Loop Loft quite often.
Drums on Demand has a Billy Martin library called Drum Loops from the Underground. These grooves and fills are sophisticated and accessible at the same time.
There would be no way to program this level of nuance into software instrument. Most notably, the subtle swing Billy adds to grooves. You’re not going to find that pocket in your quantization settings.
Example: Hodad From Mars
I use the Loop Loft Aaron Comess libraries on a regular basis. I’ve worked with Aaron before on projects. Aaron is a drummer that leaves ego at the door. He has such great awareness and sensitivity to the situation.
All off Aaron’s fills and grooves seem to be part of a bigger picture, not random musings. These loops do capture a snapshot of his playing.
Example: Willow Grove
Loops Loft’s Joey Waronker collection gives you a lot of options which also include percussion loops. This is a nice touch. The tones are far from generic and don’t say cliche. It’s surprising to find out the many ways his loops can fit into arrangements.
Examples: The Scorpion
Drums on Demand’s Manic Metal does far more than metal. I use these for a broad range of heavy rock styles. I’ve even used these for Grunge. The loops don’t sound over-compressed. If I do need some double bass drum blasts, they’re ripe for the picking in this collection. I really like the rock tom sounds.
* All of the above examples were composed and recorded by me for TV.
Got it Covered
Some libraries come with MIDI loops as well. This can make it easy if you want to layer sounds. Sometimes, you might really like a feel but need a different drum sound all together. The MIDI tracks make it easy to sample replace.
I sure hope Loop Loft and Drums on Demand decide to continue expanding their libraries with the drummers I’ve mentioned. I’m definitely wanting more.
Do you have any favorite loop libraries? Let me know in the comments.
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