In 2017, the rise of the 808’s popularity in hip hop and rap defined the genre’s sound. In fact, it became the predominant instrument in most popular rap music. Since you want to sell more beats in 2018, here’s a short list of things you can do to make the best 808’sin FL Studio. Give them your own unique sound to brush past the preset competition!
1. 808 Distortion
(If you haven’t read my article on distortion and when to use it, click here)
Distortion adds frequencies to the sound, thickening and fuzzing it up. This is important for your 808 to be heard through iPhone speakers, give an aggressive tone, and to keep your sound on par or ahead of the competition.
2. 808 Tuning
Your 808 must be tuned to the correct pitches. To do this, I simply adjust the pitch control knob on my channel settings, to match the particular instruments on my track. I also like to EQ out extra frequencies I don’t use, as shown here. This will narrow down the frequencies that shine through the mix, giving you precise tuning control.
3. Rhythm & Release for your 808’s
808s can sound incredible in a variety of speeds, from matching the kick drum on beats 1 & 3 as 1/4th notes, to one 808 note per bar. Choose a great rhythm that follows your kick pattern, or emphasizes a completely unique 808 baseline underneath all of your other leads and pads. Also, don’t be afraid to make a few unique patterns that drops the 808 out for a note or two, to give some release to the tension a great distorted baseline brings. For instance, remove the 808 note at the end of a bar. This means that when the next bar comes in, that next 808 note is sure to shine and keep listeners interested.
4. 808 Note Variation (or not)
Listeners tend to enjoy a slight bit of variation throughout basslines. Keep them guessing by adjusting notes and rhythms in the same scale every once in a while. I like to adjust things every 8 (or even 4) bars. Be sure to keep things in the same key, unless you are changing keys and making an artistic and musical choice. This advice can be disregarded if you plan to make a song or beat that will use one 808 note the entire time. This would be called using a static bassline. (Static can also refer to following the notes of other instruments in a track exactly.) If you choose to use just one 808 note in your baseline, please feel free to get creative with the rhythm.
5. 808 Slides
An important artistic touch, slides create a nice human feel with your fat, crispy 808 bass. They also add some serious clout to your track. Slides can be accomplished in FL Studio by adding a portamento note to a native FL Studio instrument in the Piano Roll. They can also be added to 3rd party VSTS by adjusting Pitch Control knobs, located either in the channel settings window or parameters window.
All in all, there are many interesting tricks to creating a fat, wonderful 808. If you have any other interesting tips, I’d love to learn more. Share them below: