I often get asked what drum sampler I use when writing a song. I have a lot of drum samplers in my collection, but to start off a song from scratch, I often turn to Toontrack’s $179 EZdrummer. The reason I go to EZdrummer is very simple — it’s quick to load and has some great beats. As a guitar player, I need to get the riff I have in my head out to my computer as quickly as possible. If not, I’m likely to forget it.
I usually have a blank GarageBand project ready to go all the time. If inspiration strikes, I simply press record and I have the idea. Then I’ll throw EZdrummer on a track, pick out a simple rock beat and start filling out the idea.
It just doesn’t get any easier than that.
What I don’t want to do at this point in the game is start messing around with a drum sampler’s mixer or effects. It’s great to have those options, but it’s far too early in the song writing process to worry about whether or not you want to add a compressor to the kick.
Everyone writes songs differently. I love to use a good hard beat — it really helps me lay down my ideas. This, of course, is just the first step, but it’s one of the most important.
If you use Logic Pro, you can just open your GarageBand project and begin more detailed work on the project. At this point you can decide whether or not you want to keep EZdrummer in the track or exchange it for something more full featured.
For the more advanced users, EZdrummer does have a built-in mixer and the ability to Humanize the drum beat. You also have control over the velocity of the drum hits.
Toontrack also has quite a few add-on packs for EZdrummer, giving you quite a large selection of beats to choose from. All you need to do to get the beats into your project is drag them from the EZdrummer window into GarageBand.
You also have a variety of drum kits to choose from, which changes the feel of the song. There’s a Jazz kit, Vintage Rock, Pop/Rock, Nashville and several others. Each one gives you a different feel of the drum groove.
One of the really great things about starting off with EZdrummer is that if you decide to move up to another plug-in, you have options. For instance, if you decide to move up to Superior Drummer 2.0 (also by Toontrack), you just add the plug-in and you’re done.
If you want to switch to another sampler, EZplayer Pro can map the drums to several competing products. You are never stuck with just one option. I like that.
EZdrummer is a great product that can take you from start to finish if you want to use it that way. You can also use it as the inspiration for writing a new song and switch it out when you get to the mixing stage. Either way, you’re covered.