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Drums and bass play a very important part in Hip Hop production, as it is the foundation of what makes our beats sound great. However, many times there are drum kicks that just don't sound right, and a lot of that is because it doesn't blend well with the bass notes. Here's how to fix that.
The Kick Drum
The best way to get your kick drum to sound better is to mess around with the EQ. A lot of times, producers tend to apply compression to the drums as soon as possible, but compression is something that should be used sparingly. What you have to remember is that the kick drum is also known as the bass drum. So think about that for a second - the bass drum. That should tell you that the kick drum SHOULD go in unison with the bass, as it's so closely related.
When processing with EQ, the main frequency range you will want to mess with is from 60Hz to 150 Hz. Boosting the 60-80 Hz range is where the kick will really thump, if that's what you're looking for, and cutting around 150 Hz will give you a classic EQ for a kick drum. Then, boosting the highs around the 3 kHz range will add some clarity to the kick so it won't sound muddy along with the bass.
This is where it can become tricky, but it doesn't have to be. When you EQ the bassline, you're basically going to do the opposite of what you did with the kick. Cut around 60-80 Hz, boost around 150 Hz, and boost the highs around 800-900 Hz. When doing this, you have to visualize it because it's much easier that way. You're taking away from the kick and substituting that range by increasing the bass notes.
At this point, your kick and bass should sound great together, but it's not always that simple. The main thing I always see (and experience myself), is that even if you EQ properly, the kick and bass might just not sound good together.
Make Them Fit
A lot of producers are using the famous 808 kick drum on their tracks, and rightfully so. The 808 is super dope, and it sounds great on any beat you make since it thumps hard and acts as a bassline at the same time.
But problems arise that don't need to. The 808 is actually not a drum sound at all, rather, it's a synthetic pulse! The attack, decay, and sustain have all been tweaked so that it sounds like a boomy kick drum, but that's not the case at all.
So with that in mind, it should be very easy to have your 808 kick and drum kick sit well in the mix. The 808 kick is in the 20-80 Hz range, but when mixing, just use your ears and you'll be fine. Both kicks should mesh together and not sound like a kick drum with an 808 underneath.
Some producers like to use analog bass notes, others rely more on synth bass, and it really doesn't matter which you use, just make sure it goes well with your drums. For example, some beats sound great with the "Impeach The President" drum break, but those drums are a bit thin, especially for today's music. You could add a bassline behind that break, but will it sound good? In that situation, you could EQ the break so that it sounds thicker, but it might not mesh with a synth bassline. See what I mean?
My advice is to let your ears guide you (and common sense too). A synth bass might work with an analog drum break, but it might not. If you're going to use synth bass, then use synth drums, and the same goes for analog. But once you have the right combination of kick and bass, it's really just a matter of EQing and mixing them properly until they sound dope. Good luck!
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