FL Studio 12 Tutorial #2: How To Make Drums

FL Studio 12

Modern music producers know how important drums are. They are the heartbeat of your composition if you (of course) decide to include ones, and they are the one thing that gets things going.

To begin with the drum line open up a ’’Channel Rack’’ by clicking this icon FL Studio Channel Rack  that is located in the Navigation Panel. Now you have a window open that is called Channel Rack.

FL Studio Drum Channel Rack

Each rectangle with the label on it (Kick,Clap…) represents the sound of the drum you are using. Top bar holds: Options menu that by clicking the little arrow opens up, channel filter groups (All shows all channels, Unsorted the unsorted ones etc.), Name of the pattern, Swing slider that adds the ‘’swing’’ rhythm and the bars that will switch to a piano roll mode. On the left side by the shapes with the labels in them you have a green light that indicates whether the sound is on or off. Two knobs that are for panning the volume (left-right channel) and the other one is the volume itself. Box with the number shows the channel number in the mixer (leave that for now).

On the right side, you have a rectangle that indicates which sound is in the current use (the small vertical line will glow green) and the grid of grey and red shapes. Each button (shape) indicates the step that is a 16th of a note. Default is 4 beats x 4 bars that is 16 steps.

By clicking a step you activate the sound (it will glow white). Try and make a simple drum beat by clicking the first step of the kick sound, the fifth step of the clap sound, ninth step of the kick and the thirteenth of the clap. If you make a mistake just right-click to delete the activated shape.

FL Studio Drum Channel Rack

You are ought to end up with something like this. Now play it by clicking the button in a Navigation Panel or by hitting the ‘’space’’ on a keyboard. (Make sure that the circular arrows in Navigation Panel beside the play button are glowing orange – that means you are playing the Channel Rack audio, green light indicates the Playlist audio).


You can rename your channel by clicking RENAME in the settings (white arrow) of the Channel Rack. You can even rename certain sounds by right-clicking the rectangle with the label (Kick,Clap…) and select RENAME.

To change a sound simply navigate to the browser (left side of the program) and find the folder that says PACKS. In the packs you will see more folders labeled ‘’Drums’’, ‘’Loops’’… Click on the Drums folder and then open Kicks. Variety of kick sounds should be displayed in the browser. Find the one you like (you can preview the sound of it by clicking on it) and drag and drop the sound on the rectangle found on the Channel Rack that says ‘’Kick’’.

FL Studio Drum Channel Rack

You should now see the ‘’Kick’’ label changed into a name that you chose – the sound has changed too! Now try and play the Channel Rack audio again.

The sound of the kick should be changed. You can do the same with the clap sound and later on even add hats, snares, percussion etc.

To add more sounds simply drag and drop one on a blank space in the Channel Rack. Here you can download some new FL Studio Drum Kits.

After you’ve made your drum line, in the Navigation Panel find the Pattern Selector and select your pattern by clicking the arrow and choosing the one you’ve made.


Now navigate to the Playlist by clicking the icon playlist-icon. It will open up the Playlist where you can simply click on an empty room to place your pattern. There are two ways of placing it: Pencil mode – placing one by one by clicking each time, and the Brush mode – dragging the mouse while holding a click to ‘’paint’’ the Playlist with the patterns.


Right-click the pattern to delete it from the Playlist. Other settings can be found in the bar on the Playlist.

FL Studio Playlist

From left to right: Settings, snap, pencil, brush, delete (you can do the same by right-clicking), mute, slip (used when the clip is resized to move the section left or right), slice (simply cut clips by dragging the mouse over it with this tool), select, zoom, play.

Now that you have your pattern in the Playlist, switch the play option (circular arrows or just click the L on the keyboard) to the Playlist and play the audio.

Don’t forget to save everything under FILE > SAVE!

Now try to make another pattern by clicking + sign in the Pattern Selector. New Channel Rack should be visible. Add a new sound from the browser and drag it onto a blank space in the Channel Rack (use percussion this time, such as – cowbell).

Add new drum sounds from the browser and drag it onto a blank space in the Channel Rack (use percussion this time, such as – cowbell).

Click on a vertical shape by the labeled box of a sound you just selected to make it glow green (it means that is the sound you are using now) and then click on a Piano Roll icon .

This way you can edit your drums in pintsized detail. Make a pattern with the mouse by clicking between the lines in a piano roll (you can change the snap value in the Navigation Panel!).

FL Studio Drums

After positioning your percussion pattern, you can even change the velocity by clicking on a note and dragging the line that you see below the Piano Roll up and down. You can do it another way – by putting a mouse over a note, holding the ALT button on a keyboard and with the mouse wheel roll up and down. Now try double clicking the note to open the settings of it. Even here, you can change the velocity or pitch etc.

Now navigate to the Playlist and put this pattern below the track of the previous pattern to get full drums. Add crashes, rides, hats (open and closed ones), bells, tambourines… to get rich sound of the drums.

Download any of our FL Studio Drum Kits to get new & fresh sounds for your FL Studio (check some of the bestselling packs below).

To view it in a browser of the studio. Navigate to the folder where you have installed the FL Studio (Program Files on a C disk is the basic one) and put it in: Image-Line/FL Studio 12/Data/Patches/Packs.[/message_box]


Keyboard shortcuts will come to you with time as you use the FL Studio 12. But some of the important ones are:


  • Ctrl + A – To select everything e.g. in the Playlist
  • Ctrl + S – Save
  • Ctrl + C – Copy
  • Ctrl + V – Paste
  • Ctrl + Mouse Wheel (up and down) – Zoom (Use Alt + Mouse Wheel to zoom in another direction)
  • Alt + P – Send to Piano Roll
  • Space – Play/Stop
  • L – Switch from Channel Rack audio to Playlist audio
  • Del – Delete

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