How To Create An Analog Drum Machine Collection In Ableton

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how you can create your very own collection of classic, analog drum machines, all for free! We’ll be using the classic Roland TR-606 drum machine in this example. However, the techniques shown in this tutorial will work for any of the dozens of drum machine samples found at Music Machines: samples.

Step 1.)

Go to Music Machines: samples and click the “Roland TR-606” link. On the next page, click “” to save the set of samples.

A screen cap of the music machines site, loaded with tons of classic analog drum samples.

The music machines site is loaded with tons of accurately sampled, analog drum machine hits.

Step 2.)

Extract the samples into a folder. In my windows machine, I saved them under My Documents > Samples > Drum Machines.

A screen cap of me dropping the Roland TR-606 files into a specific folder.

Dropping the Roland TR-606 files I have downloaded into a folder I have specified.

Step 3.)

Once you have the files loaded into your destination folder. Load up your copy of Ableton Live and drag a copy of Ableton’s “Drum Rack” onto an empty MIDI channel.

A screen cap of me dragging Ableton's drum rack onto a new MIDI channel.

Drum rack will be our starting point for creating our analog drum machine collection.

Step 4.)

Either from your OS’s folder or Ableton’s built in file browser window, drag each sample onto one of “Drum Rack’s” pads.

A screen cap of me dragging samples onto the Drum Rack device we have created.

Dragging the samples into Ableton’s Drum Rack. I usually like to order my drum machines like so: kick, snare, closed hat, open hat, toms, cymbals.

Step 5.)

Once all of your hits are loaded, click on the “Show/Hide Devices” button on Drum Rack.

A screen cap showing where the show/hide button is on Ableton's Drum Rack.

Opening the Show/Hide Devices panel will allow for better control over our drum machine samples.

Step 6.)

On the main sampler panel, make sure you have the first sample selected (1) (in my case, the kick sample) and bring the “Release” (2) and “Velocity” (3) sections all the way up.

A screen cap showing where the the kick sample, release and velocity settings are on Ableton's Drum Rack.

Bringing the release up to 60s gets the full tail of the drum sample, bringing the velocity up to 100% gives you full control over the velocity of the MIDI data when programming your drum parts in Ableton’s Sequencer.

Thanks to slatva for this tip: “You can copy the release and velocity values easily to all other pads by right clicking on them and selecting ‘copy value to siblings’. No need to set them up separately!”

Step 7.)

Once you’re done setting up drum rack, locate Ableton’s device browser and drag the entire drum rack into the “Drum Rack” folder located in the device browser. Rename it to something appropriate (ie “Roland TR-606”).

A screen cap showing how to save our newly created Roland TR-606 drum machine into the 'Drum Rack' folder in Ableton's Device Browser.

A quick and simple way to save out our newly created Roland TR-606 drum machine.

Now, anytime, you can drag out your new drum machine into any empty MIDI channel, and it’s ready to go. Also, if you want to create a new drum machine, I would recommend using a pre existing setup (our 606 for example) so you don’t have to redo all of the Release and Velocity settings.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know of any other sites that offer free drum machine samples!