How To Make a Snare Drum from Scratch

If there is one thing that I love just as much as making beats, it’s making my own sounds from scratch! Not only because it’s fun, but also because I know that I’m the only person in the world at that moment that has access to what I’ve created. 

As a sound designer, I have created everything from Guitar Loops, Melody Loops, MIDI Kits, Drums and so much more, and if I could choose one out of all of them that I love creating the most one-shots would win every single time. 

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to make a snare drum from scratch using the foley method. Make sure that you follow it in exactly the steps described to attain the best result.  

Let’s get started. 

How to make a snare drum using Foley

Making sounds using foley is a lot easier than most people explain, to start with here is a list of everything that you’ll need before you get started:

  • A field recorder
  • A windscreen (to protect your field recorder from picking up any unnecessary wind)
  • A computer
  • A DAW

As long as you have these four things, you’ll be ready to go and start recording sounds that you’ll bring back into your DAW to start manipulating.

1. Find a sound source

The first stage is to find a sound source i.e. an object that you’re going to record, when setting out to create a snare it’s important to pick a sound source that has some snap to it and very little bass frequencies.

An example of objects that you can record:

  • A car door slamming
  • A mug slamming down on a table
  • A hammer hitting a chair

The possibilities can stretch as far as your imagination, for the sake of this tutorial I have recorded myself opening my car door but at a quick pace to give the sound some extra snap. 

Once you have decided on the sound you want to record, arm your field recorder with the wind protector on (if you’re outside) stand as close as you can to the object and hit it.

You may find this part easier if you get someone to help you record.

Now that you have recorded your sound, It’s time to throw it into a DAW for this tutorial I will be using Logic Pro X. 

2. Open your DAW

Now it’s time to boot up your DAW and load your sample into a sampler, it doesn’t matter what sampler or DAW you’re using the same methodology will apply no matter your equipment. 

How To Make a Snare Drum from Scratch 1

Before adding any fancy effects to the sound, first we have to isolate it at its peak and leave a slight tail on the end. 

Using Quick Sampler to edit your snare drum

 Now that the sound has been isolated, we can start to modulate it within the sampler, it’s important to mention that there are no rules here, as long as it sounds good to you thats all that matters! 

Let’s start by increasing the coarse knob within the pitch section from 0 to +8, this will increase the pitch slightly giving the sound a nice Lo-Fi edge.

Changing the pitch of your snare drum

Next we’ll enable the filter and set it to LP 6dB Lush (Fat) which is a low pass filter, set the Cutoff to 64% and the Resonance to 3%, after that boost up the Drive to 28% to make the sound louder. 

Leave all of the other settings in the sampler as they are, from now we can start to add some basic effects to the sound to make it more interesting. 

3. Adding Effects

The first effect that I’m going to add is an additional filter plugin called FAT Filter by SoundSpot which you can download completely free from their website here.

Adding effects to your snare drum

I have left the plugin on its default setting and haven’t touched either the cut off or resonance, the filter is set to high pass which overall gives the sound a lot more character.

Next up is a reverb

Reverb

Right now the snare may sound dry as a bone, but adding a little reverb will fix that right away. 

As you can see from the screen shot above, the settings I have applied might look completely out of whack to a normal person, but that’s the beauty of sound design, there are very few if not almost zero rules, if it sounds good, it sounds good. 

  • Pre Delay is set to 8
  • Size 10
  • Density 34% 
  • Rate 0.65 Hz
  • Phase 60
  • Dry 83% 
  • Wet 80%  

These settings give the sound a very subtle sound, but add greatly to its overall character.

Overall that is a basic format which you can copy to create your own snare drums from scratch using foley.

Here is a preview of the snare I made using the steps above:

Snare Drum Sound Design Fundamentals

Let’s quickly summarize some sound design fundamentals which can be applied to not only creating snares but many other one-shots and FX.

  • Amplitude Envelopes (ADSR)
  • Pitch.
  • Layering.
  • Keep It Simple.
  • Cleaning.
  • Tone.
  • Size.
  • Movement.

These fundamentals will give you a clear road map to designing any sound that you want to make, it’s important to always keep it simple, don’t overcomplicate any part of the process, and remember that if it sounds good, then it’s good.

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