How To Create Perfect Kick Drums For House Music

Getting the beat right is the most critical element of dance music, it provides the foundation for the rest of the mix but can also take on a life all of it’s own stirring up the dance floor with each new percussive introduction.

Everything starts with a kick. Whether it’s the solid thud of a 909, the subbed-out bass of an 808 or a tight hit from a disco kit, once the kick is in place the rest of the groove is able to build above it. Adding the hats, snares and percussion should compliment and support all the elements that have gone before adding to the rhythm of the track. If you are able to get the drums working then the rest of the track will surely follow.

In house music getting the kick right is one of the most important elements, it can be the difference between having a track that really works and one that doesn’t. So with literally thousands of kicks to choose from what are the key elements to consider when choosing or creating your kick?

It is important that the kick and the bass work together to drive the track. As they both sit in the same frequency range it is important that the compliment each other to create the maximum amount of energy. A general rule is that if the bass-line is deep and boomy then the kick should be high and short such as a disco kick, if on the other hand the bass is higher then a deep kick will work better with it such as an 808. A little adjustment in each case with tuning and envelopes will help to get the balance to work.

Certain sub genres of house have become associated with kicks that have certain characteristics. Selecting a kick with theses elements can be a good starting point in creating the vibe that you are looking for.

Classic, funky, and deep house producers will want to look for a 909 kick to get started layering with a sampled disco hit to give it that live party vibe. Electro or jackin house producers will want to look to samples from the 70’s and 80’s or maybe an 808 kick layered with a disco or electronic high hat to create some definition. With minimal house the focus is around simplicity and generally revolve around an 808 style or synthetic kick while tech house utilizes 909 style kits as well as obscure drum machines.

While compressing your kick it is a good idea to compress after any eq, that way you will not add compression to any unwanted frequencies. Using a fast attack and medium release will reduce clickyness while a medium attack and release will retain the original punch. Be careful not to set the attack or release too fast.

While eqing your kick it’s a good idea to think of it as three distinct areas, the high end providing the detail and clarity, the mid range providing the knock or the thump and the bottom range providing power and depth. Thinking of it in this way will help when it comes to making decisions about eq.

If you decide that you want to later your kick then you can approach it in one of several ways. Using an eq based approach you can use different samples to provide the elements in the different frequency ranges or you could use a trasient based approach where one sample provides the attack while another may be used for sustain and another for release, use eq to remove frequencies from each sample that are not required.

Taking a little time and thought while creating your kicks will help you to create a solid base for your new productions so open up your sample libraries and start creating the perfect kick for your new track.