Lofi drums are the bedrock of any lofi beat. So, how do you get lofi drums in a world where all our tools are hifi?
Well it comes down to three areas.
- LoFi Drum Samples: First you have to make sure your drum samples sound lofi.
- LoFi Drum Patterns: Second make sure you have the right lofi drum patterns.
- LoFi Drum Loops: And third, your lofi drum loops have to sounds, lofi.
We'll break down each section in chapters. Walking through each chapter in detail, this is your guide on how to make lofi drums, patterns and lofi drum loops.
Chapter 1: LoFi Drums: The Sound Effects
Getting LoFi drums to sound LoFi is all about the effect.What are those effects and how do you get them.?
We’ll cover typical effects found on lofi drums and recommend VSTs so you can do the same.
Let’s dive in.
Here we'll cover the different effects found in lofi drums. I'll do two things for each effect:
- Explain the concept
- Provide an audio example so you can hear the effects
To start, here it the baseline audio we'll work off of with no effects:
Tape saturation is such a key part in LoFi. If there is only one effect you need to now, it's this one.
It adds the warmth and the wobbly warble sound. It's a mix of distortion, hiccups in resonance, phasing, compression, shaving off the high highs and lower lows of frequencies. It's kind of an all in one LoFi effect.
In a lot of ways it's not really an effect per se. It's a modern day effect that tries to emulate what happened back in the day when music was recorded on magentic tape.
Add tape saturation to your drums to take them from regular drums to lofi drums.
The above effect was added by using the lofi drums preset on the Taip Plugin by Baby Audio.
Reverb is like echoes, but a bunch of them at the same time. When sound happens, it not only goes to your ear, but it bounces off all the space around you and then hits your ears.
When all those other sounds bounce off and hit your ear, that's reverb. They slightly alter the sound. Play a sound in a small room sounds different than if you play a sound in a church.
The benefits of reverb is is makes the sound wider, fuller, and bigger.
There's many different types of distortion, all geared towards getting a gritty, noisy, and maybe even buzzy feel. It helps give your lofi drums character.
Chorus is basically copying the sound and playing it at the same time, just with slightly alterations. Delay, pitch changes, panning, offset start points are all alterations that happen with chorus.
The alteration are subtle, but can be felt.
The benefit: your lofi drums will sound fuller and richer.
This is a form of an echo. The dry signal plays but then a wet signal is played slightly after. It gives an echo like feel, a bit richer sound, and can even add to the rhythmic feel of lofi drums.
Phaser can give a swoosh feel, sometimes watery, sometimes swirl type effect. It's a type of modulation effect.
Popularized by the late grat J Dilla swing is essentially being human. When we make music on computers, by default everything is perfectly lined up. So perfect and precise.
Humans are not perfect. When we play drums we don't always hit the drums at the right moment. We're usually off by a bit. A touch too early. A touch to late.
Swing is a way to incorporate that human feel. It moves the notes slightly off the grid. This gives your lofi drums a human feel.
LoFi Drums: Top 5 Plugins To Make That Lofi Feel
So now that we takled about the effects. How do you get them? Plugins is the answer. Here are a few top lofi drums plugins to help you get that lofi feel in your drums.
- Taip by Baby Audio
- RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio
- Izotope Vinyl
- VHS by Baby Audio
- Abbey Road Vinyl by Waves
Chapter 2: LoFi Drum Patterns
LoFi drum patterns are simple yet complex. Nailing your drum pattern is key to crafting a great lofi beat.
Whether you’re making lofi beats to chill to, study to, or work to, follow these patterns to get your lofi drum patterns right.
These 5 lofi drum patterns that can serve as a foundation for your LoFi beats. You can use these as is, build on them, or remix them.
I’ll lay out a pattern with an image and then add in an audio file so you can hear it.
01 Extra One
This pattern is pretty basic and straightforward but gets the job done. If you’re just starting out, this is a solid one to start with and you can’t go wrong.
It’s a nice kick, snare, hi-hat pattern with an extra kick and hat thrown in here and there to mix it up and give a nice lofi vibe.
02 LoFi Groove [LoFi Drum Patterns With A Bop]
This closed hi-hat pattern here keeps the beat moving. You want to keep the volume of these hats relatively the same and at a decent level.
You can keep the kicks and snares simple and this will give you a nice lofi drum pattern to make lofi beats.
If you want to make lofi drum patterns that aren’t too laid back or too slow (b/c sometimes they can be! 😬) - use a a pattern like this to establish the groove.
03 Stop And Go
The shaker adds a nice touch to this lofi beat. But, I switched it up and used a perc FX instead for this one. These guides are great, but this is a reminder it's ok to make a few switches here and there. What makes it unique is the brief pauses that gives it a stop and go, breathe and stop, type feel.
04 Ride With Me [R&B LoFi Drum Pattern]
This pattern is a bit based of R&B. The ride adds a nice touch that fills out the lofi drum pattern and gives a nice chill vibe.
Mixing R&B elements like rides, or multiple shakers and percussion is a great way to create a certain style of lofi drum patterns.
05 Boom Bap LoFi [Boom Bap LoFi Drum Patterns]
This pattern is rooted in Boom Bap beats. The hats give a nice movement and groove. The snares are simple. This gives room to add in a decent amount of kicks for that nice boom bap feel.
Keep the hats low and varied, add in some nice swing, muted kicks, and a crunchy snare and you have a nice lofi beat. A boom bap lofi beat if you will.
Mix up the style of your hi-hats to get different grooves off this one pattern.
Chapter 3: LoFi Drum Loops - The Extra Sounds
Lofi drum loops are the backbone of lofi beats. If you want to skip making them, save hours of time, check out the lofi drum loops pack.
So, how do you make them?
This post covers the five steps to take to make lofi drum loops. Whether you’re going for classic lofi, chill, zen, vibey, boom bap lofi, trap lofi, or any other type, follow these steps.
LoFi Drum Loops Table of Contents
LoFi Drum Loops Tempo
What BPM is used in lofi? Most lofi beats stay in the range of 60 to 90 BPM. Anything outside of that and you risk being too chill or too fast.
You can if you want however. Remember, lofi is music, music is art, and the rules can be broken.
But if you’re just starting out, stick to 60-90bpm
Action: set your DAW to somewhere between 60-90bpm. Not sure what to pick, start with 74bpm.
Simple Drum Patterns
Lofi drum loops are simple drum loops. They don’t go crazy with the hi hats like trap drums, and they don’t go crazy with percussion like reggaeton drums.
The idea is to create simple head nodding beats.
Keep the snare on the 2 and the 4. Keep the kick on the one. Sprinkle in hats. If you want more of a jazzy feel, sprinkle in cymbal rides.
But the key is to keep it simple. Lofi drum loops should be simple, but not basic. We’ll add more in the following steps to really dial it in.
Here's an example of a simple lofi drum pattern we'll start with
Action: use the following drum pattern in your DAW. It’s a simple drum loop that captures the essence of LoFi.
This drum pattern is pulled from the LoFi Drum guide.
Imperfections mostly means not playing everything perfect. A machine (like your DAW) can play everything perfectly spot on all the time. A real human comes with flaws. The timing is not perfect. It’ll be off a bit here and there.
The easiest way to do this is to add swing to your drums. Swing offsets notes by a little bit here and there.
The next way to do this is to randomize the velocity. We don’t want every note to hit the same. Mix up the velocity.
Here's our pattern with swing and velocity changes applied:
Action: add a small amount of swing to your drums and also randomize the velocity.
Vintage Effects In LoFi Drum Loops
Time to get cooking with the sounds of LoFi. At this point we have a decent lofi drum loop but we need to bake in that true old school sound. This comes down to two main areas:
- the unintended sounds that showed up in old tracks like vinyl, crackle, hiss, and pop. This was a nature of the recording gear they had back in the day.
- The warm, saturated sound older gear created
For one we can simply layer in a vinyl sample. You can also use a plugin to add this in. For two, let’s add in saturation. This will give us a warm old school feel.
The other thing we can do is roll of the high and low end of EQ. The gear back in the day couldn’t process such high or low frequencies. So we’ll do the same.
Here's our beat with Vintage FX applied. I'll ramp it up so you can really hear the difference:
At this point we have a solid lofi drum loop. But, we need to add in one more thing. Atmosphere. This is the world around us. Birds chirping, kids playing, crickets cricketting (??), thunder roaring or the sound of rain.
Layer this in with a sample and we have a solid lofi drum loop.
Here's our beat with Atmosphere sounds, in the case waves and seagulls:
Action: layer in atmospheric / foley sounds to your loop.
BONUS - Chords
Once you've gone this far, rounding out your lofi beat is quite simple. Throw in some lofi chords and you're almost there. For a simple way to generate chords, checkout our Ripchord guide.
What Drums Are Used In LoFi?
Acoustic drums that are warm, imperfect and bit dirty. That's the best way to describe lofi drums. They are not clean like modern drums. They sound a bit distorted, a bit crunchy, grungy, and gritty. But in a nice warm way.
How Do You Make Drums Sound LoFi?
Use a number of effects including
- Tape Saturation
Why Is It Called LoFi Beats?
LoFi is short for low definition as in the opposite of high definition. You ever watch an old show or movie from the 70s/80/s90s and it doesn't look as clear and clean as shows of today? That's because the technology didn't have the fidelity of today's tech.
The same is true of audio. Today's tech is able to process so much more and make audio much more clear and clean than the sounds of decades past. In comparison, the old audio is "lofi" compared to today's high definition audio.
What Are The Best Instruments For LoFI?i?
LoFi is a derivative if Jazz and HipHop. As such, typical jazz like instruments like pianos, guitars, trumpets, and acoustic bass are the best instruments for LoFi.
As you can see, making lofi drum loops is pretty straightforward. The process is simple but there's plenty of room to get creative.
Start with getting your drum samples to sound lofi. Get the right patterns. Add in effects for that lofi drum loop sound.
Use the plugins mentioned to get started. If you want to go free, start with Izotope Vinyl. If you're looking for one and one only, I would recommend. RC-20 or Taip.
For patterns start with the LoFi MIDI Drum Pattern guide. It's packed patterns, midi, and 300 lofi drums to get you started.
Those are some of the main effects you hear when it comes to LoFi Drums. And,