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Tips for Blending Drum Samples with Live Drums

Hi, it’s Warren Huart here. Hope you’re doing marvelously well.

Today, what I’d like to do is talk to you about the drum mixing process. Do more of an overview. We’ve talked about individual elements, but I’m going to show you on this Chase song, Apricot, that I play guitar and bass on, and Tim played on, and show you what we did with the drums though in particular to kind of make them cut through.

This song is specific because the drums don’t come in until the last chorus, and I have a small drum room here, so what I had to do was take the drum performance, and just make it huger. Now, there’s many, many different ways to do that, but I have a system where I have a drum package of samples, of kicks and snares, and I just blend them to suit, so I’m just going to show you what I do and how I do it, at least for this song.

Like I said, there’s lots of different ways of doing it, but this is the process on this particular song.

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Thank you ever so much for watching, and let’s have a look at this song!

It’s relatively straight forward. I’ve got a drum track, and this particular song, it doesn’t come in until the end. Now, I’ve got a live drum kit, and with that live drum kit, I’ve added a whole bunch of samples here. Now, I will blend them any way I like, depending on what it is. I’ll give you a description of all of the different samples. I’ve got a warehouse kick, and this is actually a kick I’ve recorded in a warehouse. Go figure!

Let’s have a listen.

[warehouse kick]

That’s a U67 in the back of a warehouse. I had a drum kit setup in the front of the warehouse, and I had a U67 all the way in the back. So it’s just kind of the ambience.

I like it because it was a very bright room. It had like, metal, you know, corrugated walls, and it was a concrete floor. It’s not very loud, because this isn’t a super rocking track, but sometimes I can push that super loud.

[warehouse kick, louder]

So there you get to see kind of how I normally have it.

Okay, the I Wanna kick is actually quite a popular kick. A lot of people have this sample. You’ll hear it, it’s — again, quite a rock kick.

[I Wanna kick sample]

I use it for a little bit of extra attack, but here you can see, they’re mixed super, super low. The PR kick is the same thing. Just attack.

[PR kick]

PR is only attack. The thing about the I Wanna is it has, you can see, if I zoom in on the front, it has sort of an extended ambience, which gives, you know, low end, which gives it sort of a bit of girth.

Then the last one here is just another live recorded kick that I did.

[live kick sample]

Cool. So those are all of my samples that I put in. The live drums itself are very, very straight forward. It’s literally just a kick, a snare, in fact, that’s the live kick here, the snare is, do, do do, do do, where is our snare? See, you blend it in with all of these things, here’s the live snare here. Live tom. Overheads and hats.

This was recorded in my studio, so it’s really, really minimal amount of mics.


So just a small, tight drum kit.

That’s the ’64 Ludwig in there. And then, you know, that was a quickly played, very straight forward drum part. It only comes in on the outro, and then I added all of these different samples here, just to get different blends.

As a package, quite frankly, what I will do in many circumstances is throw in all of the different samples that I like to use as one — laying them in at one time, so if you lay in all of those kicks as a group, you can then blend afterwards.

You know, so it’s — you know, a couple of those like the warehouse, and the I Wanna are mixed really, really super low, and I’ll just blend them in, and maybe during a song, I might want to push, say, the I Wanna kick, because it has all the weight, in the choruses, just to kind of give it some girth.

So I like to do that. For me, it’s like, if I have all of those different samples available, I can push them or pull them in different areas to really show off different sections.

Here’s a fun one. My very good friend Dave Jerden gave these to me. They’re called S Gun. Now, that is literally a gun. It’s a snare. We use it on the snare, but he went out into the desert, and shot an AK47 off, and recorded it onto a DAT tape, so that’s what this is.

[S Gun]

That’s for real. That really happened.

Okay, so there’s two of those, they’re two different times that he did it, and one is panned hard left and right. They’re super, super low, but they’re there to give it some ambience. That snare drum is the sound against the live snare of Dirt. So if you listen to Alice in Chains Dirt, you’ll hear that [emulates crackling]. That’s him shooting an AK47.

Anyway, the wonders of rock and roll, and then some of the other snare samples here, this one is from a band, The Gallery that I work with. I didn’t have a transient designer. The SPL Transient Designer is really, really cool device, because what it will do is it will allow you to add the attack back in, so if you’ve really over compressed your snare, or there’s so many snare samples that have been put in there, or whatever it is that’s caused the snare to just be, “boof, boof,” which might be nice, it might be a big fat snare, you might want to add that transient back in.

So before I had an SPL Transient Designer, I made my own one, which is this.

[snare sample]

So that’s a room sound in one of my old studios. A stereo room sound, and I let — I set the attack so just the initial snap went through, and then — you know, because that would’ve been like a “boof!” If I blend that back into my snares, and it can give me a little bit of transients.

Again, you don’t have to have these same sounds, it’s just nice to have a variety of different stuff that you can blend, and when you’re doing a great mix, you may want to have different drum sounds in different sections of the song.

You know, obviously, once a chorus comes in and it fills out, you’re going to want a little bit more ambience on the snare, because all of that verb and those room tones are going to be sucked in by the additional guitars, and keys, etcetera.

There’s other snares I’ve got here. Here’s a wood snare. I also recorded the overheads on the wood snare. This one is actually one I did…

[wood snare]

That one, I actually recorded in The Boneyard. That’s Joe Perry’s studio. I just hit a snare in there and recorded it. I really liked the way it sounded in his studio. He’s got a small room, but it’s a fantastic room. The warehouse actually was recorded in Aerosmith’s studio, Pandora’s Box. That warehouse one.

So those are sounds that I did going out and doing this. I like — Almost all of these except for Dave’s, the ones I’ve created on different drum kits in different places, and over the years, I’ve decided what I need and where I need it in the track.

This one is actually one of Joey’s that you can purchase. It’s the Joey Kramer rock snare, and what I did is I actually took the — I compressed it in a way that destroyed the attack, so it’s all just the ring. If you have a listen.

[snare ring]

So that is only the ring, and the reason for that is I got this blend of the snares, and I liked it, but I just felt like, well, you know, now there’s a little bit of a natural ring missing.

Again, this looks complicated, but I’m only using bits and pieces. I — for me, it’s like, I lay all of these in in one go, so these are all in one group against the live snare, and you can do that using — individually lining them up, tab to transient, you can do that using Sound Replacer, you can do it using Melodyne by getting the MIDI, which is what we normally do, but the reality is, when you do this, you’ve got all of the different snares, etcetera that you want to use.

The great thing about if you use, say, Addictive Drums, is you can tune your sample snare to match your live snare. That’s another kind of nice thing.

So here’s another one. This is — this one is actually from Chris Cester’s snare from Jet.

[Chris snare]

It has that Jet snare.

[Chris snare]

So that’s Chris’ snare sound. Chris basically took a Ludwig Supraphonic, and would detune, so when he was recording in my studio, I just, you know, went out there and hit the snare, and set it up the way I wanted.

Here is a fun one that I do, and I suggest sometimes that you might try, is I triggered 100Hz. Just 100Hz here.

[100Hz sample]

Believe it or not. That is 100Hz that I triggered, and I added to it, just for a little [emulates 100Hz sample]. Very straight forward.

These are generic snare samples here. This is an AJ trashy one. You can find these online.

[AJ trash snare]

Now, what I do with this one is I use that, because it’s got a lot of personality, I actually use that quite low, but I use, if you go to here, you’ll see I’m sending that to the reverb, so I’m using that to create the ambience that you’re hearing.

I always take — not always, but I often take one snare sample, and use that to trigger ambient — trigger ambience, because if you use the snare top, especially if it’s a really super loud drummer and he’s laying into his hat and all of this kind of stuff, you’re also like, sending tons of hat and bleed to your reverb. So I prefer to take a sample and send that to a reverb.

That is something I stole from Andy Wallace. It’s what Andy Wallace has been doing for years. All those great rock records like Nevermind, etcetera that he mixed were done like that.

Here is the up close snare for the wood snare.

[wood snare]

Here is — oh, this is just a generic rock snare that I created.

[rock snare]

That was a Supraphonic played on the rim. That is being sent to the ambience as well. So it’s like a blend. You can see, there’s like, three or four different snare samples that are going there. Again, I blend them.

I think the secret is, and really I keep saying this, is really just to have things at your disposal. I put this in as like, a package on all of my drums, so that when I’m mixing, I can decide what blend I want for the circumstances. So look, if you listen to all of this together…


It’s a great snare sound!


That’s just something I create. Now, you can do that these days by using Addictive, and create something similar to that by tuning the snare, and I do that often as well. I think for me, I don’t have one way of doing it, but I do like the ability to be able to have in a mix like that, the quickly move and go, “Okay, I need to bring up the ambience, so maybe I’ll go to the gun snares there and push them in the choruses louder.”

So that to me is really kind of a secret is just to have a lot of variety, and the same thing here with the kick. You know, what we’ve done by adding those is create the same kind of idea.

[snare, then full drums]

Yeah, it’s pretty sample based. It sounds pretty — but if you listen to the track, it works well with it.


Because it — that — the live drums don’t come in until the very last chorus, and I wanted that drama in this song by putting in like, you know, a lot of big drums and stuff. You know, it’s still a pop song, and it’s not like it’s suddenly turning into Metallica at the end there, but it’s definitely pushing, so you know, there’s definitely no one way to do it, but I like to have variety, and I like to be able to mix on the fly a little bit.

Great. So you know, please subscribe. Go to the email link below, and you know, go to and sign up for the email list. You’ll get a whole bunch of free stuff that’s behind the scenes stuff. There’s the miking of drums that I did with Greg D’Angelo, you can see loads of different techniques and stuff. We also go to Sunset Sound and talk about how we do stuff there.

So — and then please, of cousre, you know, leave some questions below, and I’ll try my hardest to get there and answer every question, and thanks ever so much for asking — for watching, and please feel free to ask us any questions, and thank you very much!

Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at
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