How to Create a Tuned 808 Bass [Free Weekly Ableton Rack #36]

The iconic Roland 808 drum machine is a staple in modern music.  Each sound is loaded with character and can be found across many musical genres.  This week I spent some time with samples of the heavy hitting bass drum.  The result is a Free Ableton Live Device Rack that allows you to play the bass drum like an instrument.  I’ve tuned the bass drum and spread it out over the keyboard to create a bass instrument that allows your bass drum to play in key with your songs and even play melodies.  To help give it some punch, I have fortified it with an additional 808 bass drum sample (get some 808 samples here from Synthtopia!) and a sample made with Ableton’s Operator.  These two layers add a more high end “click” sound to the bass drum notes, helping to round out the sound and add definition to the low end melodies.  In the accompanying video, I take you through how I created it, so you can mimic this idea with any sample you like, and then explain how the device rack is set up.  So get your subs out and get ready to shake the neighborhood as we dive in to some serious lo frequency madness!

If you like this rack, please stop by my store for a look at some of my premium Ableton Live Device Racks, thanks for your support :)

If you make anything using these racks, send it along!

Here’s a track made by Hollywood Sims using the Dirty Trumpet Rack!

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Have a Great Week!


  • Todd Norman on Facebook

    its really ironic that you post this because im in the middle of an online ableton course and im making a track in the style of Whos afraid of detroit by claude von stroke and this weeks topic is bass and this is the exact bass sound used in that track! PERFECT

  • AfroDJMac on Facebook

    How cool is that?! What course are you taking?

  • Todd Norman on Facebook

    Quantize Courses

  • Todd Norman on Facebook

    Great program with Keith Mills

  • T.Rain801


    Thanks for teaching me all this nifty stuff.

    With the rise of digital music making the only limit is your imagination.
    These instrument tutorials enable me to learn abelton more than just creating inside of it.

    So yea,
    Good looking out!

  • shanetron

    you’ve been doing this for half a year. that shit cray.

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  • Chris Irish

    Another great rack, thanks for the work you put in every week! =D

    • AfroDJMac

      My pleasure Chris!

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  • Pete

    Thanks a lot! Is there any easy way for those of us who aren’t so theoretically gifted/knowledgable to work out what note our existing percussion samples are tuned to? I have a bunch of bass drums but I don’t know what they are tuned to or whether they’re in the key of my track.

    • AfroDJMac

      I like to just use a synth and compare it to that sound, but I suppose you could use Ableton’s Spectrum Analyzer. Observe the most prominent peak in the chart, and if you hover over that spot, Ableton will tell you the exect frequency and the note!

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  • Patrick

    Hello there,

    Really would like to get this rack running. Am I right that I need to buy Ableton Drum Machines, Ableton Sampler and Operator to get the bassdrum working?

    Thanks in advance for your time!

    • AfroDjMac

      I’m pretty sure if you open the Live Set (.als file)  marked “SIMPLER” that you  shouldn’t need any of that stuff.  I replicated the instrument rack so that it doesn’t use any of those other add ons, just the Simpler instrument.  So you should be good to go!

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