The Logic Pros: How to customize Logic’s Drummer, beat-by-beat

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In this week’s episode of The Logic Pros, we wanted to dive deeper into Logic Pro X’s Drummer. Considered by many to be a tool for kids, amateurs and even the lazy, Drummer is a much more versatile and customizable feature than you may think. In fact, I would argue it might be one the most interesting and powerful additions to LPX, not to mention one that Apple just hands out for free.

Whether its the slightly embarrassing drummer names or the preset stigma that surrounds it, Drummer tends to be overlooked and, in my opinion, quite underrated. Today we will be taking a closer look at what this feature has to offer, along with how to customize the drummers and the parts they play to work with our original compositions and ideas:

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Drummer comes in the form of a new track type in LPX consisting of quite a complex series of preset routing, mix busses and more. Thankfully, Apple has done all of the work for us, automatically loading up the goods, which is very much the same as the way a professional recording engineer would track, mix, and generally work with a drum kit in the studio (seen below). Once a Drummer track is loaded we can select through a pretty wide range of music genres and drummer types to meet our specific creative needs, including a slew of new EDM/Hop-Hop Drummers in the latest 10.1 update. Even further, each Drummer has a number of options including different sounding drum kits and as many as 8 different preset starter patterns. You might consider these presets the different grooves or styles that the particular drummer plays.

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A new, sort of adaptive audio region is placed on your arrange page automatically, according to the genre and drummer selections you make. The Drummer UI provides us with a number of controls that we can alter on-the-fly to create varying drum patterns for our projects on a region by region basis. This allows us to tweak the controls of the Drummer for each region to create different sections for our compositions. Double click a region on your Drummer track on the arrange page to view its Drummer controls.

On left side of the Drummer UI, next to the preset grooves, we can see a large X/Y pad that allows us to alter what the drummer is playing at any given time, from very soft and simple, to loud and complex, and everything in-between. We also get options as to which drums/cymbals/percussion in the kit are included in the rhythms, as well as swing rate and drum fill frequency controls. Hitting the “Details” button under the Swing control will reveal more information about the complexity of how each piece in the kit is played, allowing us to further customize the drum parts in our composition. For example, if you don’t want the hi-hats to ever get too busy, you can set a min-max level to keep them in control.

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Depending on whether you choose a live drum sound or an electronic one, the sounds are sourced from either Drum Kit Designer or Drum Machine Designer, both of which are fully editable in their own right. You can access the Drum Kit/Machine Designer via your Drummer track’s channel strip in the usual “Input” slot, where any other audio instrument would be found. In both cases there are various controls that allow us to shape the tonal quality of each of the pieces in our selected drum kit. To be more specific, in the case of the Drum Machine Designer, it is actually using Logic’s Ultrabeat drum sampler/synth to source the kicks, snares, hats and more.

Again, the cringeworthy names and descriptions that come with each of the preset Drummers certainly don’t help. But as you can see, there are a plethora of advantages to using the feature and a number of ways to customize the drum parts, sounds and more. But it doesn’t stop there. What if we want to get dig down past the macro level to edit each individual drum hit in a given pattern? I often times found myself coming up with drum parts using Drummer that were very close to what I wanted, just with a few hits here and there out of place. Another issue was when I wanted to use my own drum samples for a certain part (i.e. using EXS 24 to source the snare part’s drum sample).

But have no fear, LPX has you covered. The adaptive audio regions that are created on the arrange page for drummer tracks can actually be converted into MIDI! This allows us to have full control over our drums: copying individual parts or whole sections on to other tracks/instruments, and the ability to precisely edit every single hit the pattern. Don’t want that one ghost note on bar 3 beat 3.3? Just ditch it.

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Here’s how to set it up:

1. Create a New Drummer Track. Option + Command + N to bring up the new track window, or simply hit the Track option from the top menu bar.

2. Once the new Drummer track option is selected, the Drummer controls will open up along the bottom of your screen. Spend some time choosing a genre, Drummer and kit.

3. Copy the automatically created audio regions on the Drummer track to the various parts of your composition that you want them. Simply drag and drop the region while holding option on your keyboard. Then spend some time selecting a preset groove and working the controls for each region until they are sounding as close to the way you want as you can get them.

Note: Before moving on to the next step, it is a good idea to copy the work you have just done on your Drummer regions to the very end of your project for safe keeping. Highlight your desired regions on the Drummer track, then drag and drop them while holding the option key to say, bar 200 or so on your arrange page.

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4. Right click (or control + click) any Drummer region, and scroll down to the Convert option in the pop-up menu where you’ll find a “Convert to MIDI region” feature. Keep in mind, once you convert, there’s no going back.

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5. Now you will find your adaptive Drummer region has been replaced with a typical MIDI region on the same track, and it just works like magic within the same Stack and group busses. You won’t have access to the Drummer controls anymore on converted regions, but we are still triggering the same sounds as we were before, except with far more granular editing capabilities via the LPX Piano Roll.

Note: We can have converted regions and non-converted adaptive Drummer regions on the same Drummer track, allowing us to mix and match between the two without the need for multiple drum kit tracks. It can also be convenient for auditioning new rhythms on your existing ideas or allow for really creative live performance options with fixed rhythm sections and those that can be tweaked on-the-fly.

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This is what a single Drummer track looks like under the hood

The Drum Machine Designer/Ultrabeat combo is a very capable and great sounding option. If you are going to use those sounds, here’s how to get the most out of them:

Head to your Drummer track on the Mixer and click the small triangle arrow along the bottom of its channel strip. This will reveal the underlying Multi-Instrument Ultrabeat running the show, giving us full mixer capabilities over each piece in the kit (including group busses). So we can simply click on the Ultrabeat instance and we have complete control over every aspect of every sound currently being used, including the ability to change any one of them to our liking!

For those that may not be as advanced as others, here’s another way to change the individual kit piece sounds: Right click on any pad on the Drum Machine Designer UI to reveal the “Create Track” option, from there a new track will be created along the left side of your arrange page (within that Drummer’s Stack) representing the particular drum you chose. Highlight that track and you will automatically be presented with a number of alternate sound options for that particular kit piece in Logic’s library.

All told, Drummer can be as simple or as complex as you make it. Advanced users can even take it a few steps further, altering the routing within the Drummer Stack to create customized group busses, side-chains and more. And beginners can simply load up a Drummer and start rocking out in 2 seconds flat: just push play and go nuts. It can also be a very helpful tool when it comes to podcasting and other musical endeavors, allowing users to quickly get genre specific, professional sounding drum tracks in the blink of an eye, without spending any more than LPX’s (unbelievably) affordable price of entry.

If you have found any interesting tricks and creative ways to use Drummer in your compositions, feel free to let us know in the comments. Also, if you’re having any issues with Drummer or anything Logic related, hit us up below and we’ll see if we can help get to the bottom of it.

The Logic Pros is a new regular series exploring all of the most interesting gadgets and software for making music on your Mac/iOS devices. If there is any gear you would like us to take a closer hands-on look at, let us know in the comments section below or shoot us an email.

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  1. cvnadagroup2017 - 8 years ago

    great pos

  2. D.A.H. Trump - 8 years ago

    thanks for this

    • Justin Kahn - 8 years ago

      No prob. Thanks for checking it out!

  3. drgeert - 8 years ago

    Dammit, I never knew that you could convert a drummer track to midi.
    I was even a bit upset thinking you couldn’t.

    Thanks a lot for this article.

    • Justin Kahn - 8 years ago

      I know right?!!! I’m so glad you can do that, opens up the creative possibilities significantly. Thanks for reading.

  4. Kim Ginnerup (@kgi111) - 8 years ago

    One thing I have done many times now is to change drummer to muliti channel.
    Now you can add midi regions indide the drummer track without having to convert your drummer track to midi. Now you can add breaks and add extra beats hear and there.
    If you make your drummer track a groove track the you can get your newly extra drum beats to follow along. All your added drums have the same sound. Eventhough you kick in and out, you only need to midi to one of them it will trigger both. Be carefull not to add say a kick on top of an existing kick, because it will sound strange and phased.
    Remove stuff is unfortunately not possible with this method. The you have to go the midi conversion way, which is a one way conversion.

  5. jimgramze - 8 years ago

    If you want a very specific groove, you can sync the drummer to it. First make a dummy track that is your rhythmic groove which can be just a single pitch rhythmically playing, mute it, and then click the “Follow” check box. That will change the feel of the drummer to better fit what you intend. It makes something that’s generic into something that tightly fits.

    I have used this hoping for the kick to follow the rhythm I laid out and was not disappointed, with the rest of what the drummer plays fitting in around it.

    I didn’t know that bit about converting to MIDI. That’s awesome!

    • Roscoe Corbyn Dubya - 6 years ago

      2 years later, just seeing this post. knew about converting to MIDI, but that muted follow track is GENIUS! totally going to edit some current work using that. THANKS!

  6. Jared Jensen - 8 years ago

    This is great! Thanks!

  7. drummerkick95 - 8 years ago

    You can actually change the instrument from a drum track. It requires you to play with the drummer’s drum use, but you can then use the drummers to make piano tracks, violin tracks, any instruments you have in logic. They all run through the same the same key drive set up, and it makes it easier to get the velocity right very quickly once converted to a MIDI region.

  8. Mike Crowder - 7 years ago

    I have tried to pull up that detailed “Complexity” settings view and can’t seem to find it. When I click on the “Details” button I just see the three dials for feel, ghost notes and hi-hats. Help! Thanks.

  9. Travis Kidd - 7 years ago

    how do you make an “ending”? like to end the song rather than just fade out the drums? thanks, TK

  10. Jose Browne - 7 years ago

    This amazing!.. the only thing i’m having problems with is splitting the single midi region to individual tracks (aka split by pitch). I have no problem converting to midi and splitting by note pitch. The problem however is that it creates a weird type of track stack grouping that i can’t seem to ungroup. Does anyone know a trick to split these into completely individual tracks?

    • Velanche Stewart - 7 years ago

      You would have to first make the instrument of your MIDI track (before splitting) from stereo into multi-output, and then route each track into its own output (1-2, 3-4, 5-6, etc.). At that point, they will be independent.

  11. Pau Strange - 7 years ago

    This is an awesome article, thanks!

  12. Chris Branscome - 6 years ago

    I’m confused – my version of LPX 1) doesn’t show the same thing when I click on “Details” under the swing adjustment, and 2) I don’t see a little triangle to click on at the bottom of the drum track channel strip.


Avatar for Justin Kahn Justin Kahn

Justin is a senior editor covering all things music for 9to5Mac, including our weekly Logic Pros series exploring music production on Mac and iOS devices. Justin is an audio engineer/producer with over 10 years experience in the music industry.