Percussion is one of the least sexy and most overlooked aspects of a production.
Adding a shaker to add more top end to your beat doesn’t sound as pro as reaching for the Pultec emulation, does it?
It can be a lot more efficient, though.
I have rarely found an EQ able to add groove and crispness in the same way a well placed percussion sample can.
A tambourine sample layered with your snare could be exactly what you need to make the snare pop. A tabla loop could be exactly what your beat needs to add humanized swing, helping those drums groove.
This article explores 8 of the best percussion libraries available to download today.
Let’s make percussion sexy again!
Below is a list of the percussion samples we talk about in this article. Scroll down for more details or click to hear audio demos.
- Ultimate Percussion Jungle
- Mino Cinélu – World Grooves Vol 1
- Celso Alberti Brazilian Drums & Percussion
- Junkyard Percussion
- Traditional Brazilian Percussion
- Tribal & African Percussion
- The Foley Lab
- Defected Percussion – Shovell
1. Real Drum Samples – Ultimate Percussion Jungle
Ultimate Percussion Jungle from Real Drum Sounds brings more than 400 high-quality percussion sounds to your hard drive. Hailed by producers with credits on releases by Timbaland, Kanye West, and Dr. Dre, you can be sure Ultimate Percussion Jungle can provide platinum selling sounds to your next beat.
The uniqueness of the samples sets Ultimate Percussion Jungle apart from the competition. With instrument origins ranging from Nigeria to Iran to Cuba to India, you will find plenty of unique sounds to help improve your style within this package.
Delivered in WAV format, these samples are compatible with any digital audio workstation or drum machine and are recorded to a quality you would expect as a professional.
The recorded sounds also include a range of articulations to add realism and diversity to your sample utilization.
Each sample is very well categorized and organized via the preset folder structure, making easy work of finding the sound you need. Whether you are trying to summon Timbaland styled grooves with a sequenced tabla groove, or adding a Latin influence with the Cajon, Ultimate Percussion Jungle has the range of samples to add inspiration and new textures to your production.
2. Mino Cinélu – World Grooves Vol 1
What do Miles Davis, The Weather Report, and Sting have in common? Mino Cinélu. World Grooves Vol 1 from The Loop Loft bring that unmistakable Cinélu swing to your music with the click of a button. 218 loops recorded at 48 kHz / 24-bit in New York City’s famed Bunker Studios, ensures a pristine recording quality of these loops. A melting-pot of grooves from across the globe are available in World Grooves Vol 1.
The versatility of the loops being available as WAV, AIFF, REX2 and Stylus RMX files allows you to use these samples with whichever workflow suits your beat making preferences. If building tracks with loops is your forte, find the perfect loop, drop the WAV file into your session and away you go.
For the tinkering producer, use the REX2 format and work on manipulating the hits, creating a tailor-made vibe for your beat. A wide range of tempi have been captured as part of this collection. Match the tempo of a loop to the tempo of your track and experience the power of a Mino Cinélu groove, without the hefty session fees. The humanization of each loop can soon help a rigid, programmed beat sound alive. For the more technical producer, there is nothing to stop you from time stretching and splicing the grooves to create rhythm and tone. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need to keep that beat swinging.
3. Celso Alberti Brazilian Drums & Percussion
The Celso Alberti Brazilian Drums & Percussion Bundle grants you access to the most expansive collection of Brazilian grooves and samples ever produced. This bundle includes Celso Alberti Brazilian Drums & Percussion Volume 1 and 2 providing grooves in the style of samba, maracuta, guarania, maculelé, candombelé and more.
Volume 1 contains 323 individual loops ranging between 75 and 130 beats per minute (BPM). Volume 2 offers 375 individual loops ranging between 75 and 240 BPM. Between the two volumes, this bundle gives the user a wide range of BPM to work with, as well as versatile delivery format – WAV, AIFF, REX2 and Stylus RMX – to maximize usability across beat making formats.
With such a wide range of tempo, style, and instrumentation available within this bundle, it’s difficult to say anything other than to buy it. South American influence is creeping back into commercial Pop music, so why not stay ahead of the pack with this exhaustive collection of Brazilian drum and percussion grooves? Though loops are drag and drop by nature, these samples can stretch, splice and move to fit your latest beat. With the enormous range of loops and tempi available, it’s unlikely you will need to get the razor blade out.
4. Loopmasters – Junkyard Percussion
“Give a Musician a spanner, and he may undo a bolt. Give a Musician a toolbox, and he will fill his sampler”. Save yourself the job of recording the toolbox by investing in Loopmasters Junkyard Percussion sample pack. An inspiring collection of inanimate objects often found in the toolshed, this package is an enormous library of glass hits, shakes, splashes, bells, tank slaps, garage door slams, spanner drops, wood sounds and all the squeaks you could find amongst a junkyard.
A series of 973 one-shots recorded at 96 kHz / 24 bit and 100 loops recorded at 44.1 kHz / 24 bit, Junkyard Percussion provides you with stunning audio. Junkyard in sound, not in quality!
The pack’s greatest quality lies in format. Available in WAV, REX2, NNXT, Kontakt, Hallion, and Ableton Sampler formats. Junkyard Percussion is pre-formatted to allow you to sequence their sounds your way.
A fantastic set of samples and loops for the more experimental producer. Add a unique and earthy sound to your productions by layering familiar sounds from everyday life into your beats. Whether its Slipknot-esque oil drum bashing you desire, an inspiring loop to kick-start your groove or layering a metallic hit under a snare for more impact, Junkyard Percussion has plenty of interesting sounds to tinker with.
5. Organic Loops – Traditional Brazilian Percussion
How better to bring a bit of South America into your beats than with Traditional Brazilian Percussion by Organic Loops? A hotbed of percussion instruments including agogo, tambourine, snares, timbao, conga, triangles, bells and more.
These samples will bring authentic percussive sounds from deep within the heart of Brazilian culture to your beats. Add the infectious energy of Latin America to your music immediately with this kit.
This percussion sample pack is a goldmine of sounds, with 321 loops and over 200 one-shots. A comprehensive sample collection helping you create natural rhythms that’ll make the listener dance and sway the Brazilian way.
Loops are between 60 – 150bpm, providing a wide tempo range for your beats, suitable for Hip Hop, House, Ambient, Downtempo, Breaks, Techno and more.
With over 346 REX2 files included, you can be manipulating spliced markers with ease, chopping and changing to suit your track. There are also 26 Sampler patches included, allowing any Ableton user to create their own loops via MIDI; Halion, NNXT, EXS24, Kontakt and SFZ patches are also included.
As mentioned before with the Celso Alberti Brazilian Drums & Percussion Bundle, it is difficult to turn on the radio without hearing Latin influence. Quit the arms race and add a little “Despacito” to your beat today. Let the Brazilian flame groove up your mechanical beats.
6. Black Octopus – Tribal & African Percussion
Black Octopus want to bring the human element into your electronically produced music. Tribal & African Percussion can add a unique quality and groove that is almost impossible to achieve through meticulously sequenced samples.
When you’re in the club, and the EDM smash of the day is pumping, what is it that you’re grooving too? Is it the 808? Is it the Clap? No. The best EDM producers know that adding a skilled percussionist into the mix is a guaranteed way of making heads bop. It’s a groove on steroids. That’s why you see so many professional percussionists accompanying DJs live!
Tribal & African Percussion features 300 loops and one-shots, recorded live and played by a professional percussionist. Ideal for any producer trying to make their beats come alive. If African loops are good enough for Major Lazer, they’re good enough for you.
From listening to the audio samples on the Loopmasters website, you can hear how well they integrate with House, Techno, and Trap, and can think of more genres that would work well these percussion samples. Want a more complex groove? Move the loops around on the grid, creating odd accents and rhythmic patterns to help further you stand out from the crowd.
7. Prime Loops – The Foley Lab
The Foley Lab is a sound design adventure from Prime Loops, a unique sound library of real-world recordings of the found world. The original found sounds have been spliced, mangled and processed into newfangled and distinctive sound effects loops, drum patterns and percussion loops.
Over 450 MB worth of organic sounds, layered into individual drum hit one-shots divided into folders of kicks, snares, hats, and percussion. The Foley Lab also provides a collection of drum loops arranged by tempo – 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 128 and 140 BPM – plus folders of un-mutated Foley sounds for producers who like more control over their sounds. If that wasn’t enough, there is a further folder full to the brim with found sound-based effects!
From simple percussion loops to more complex rhythms, there are multiple audio files to choose from within The Foley Lab sample pack, allowing you to layer different files to create dense soundscapes.
Try layering a glass smash sample with a snare on the first downbeat for more impact. Experiment by sequencing a series of pitched metal sounds for an industrial percussive texture. Whatever your beat is crying out for, you cannot deny the quality and originality The Foley Lab can inject.
8. Loopmasters – Defected Percussion – Shovell
When I think dance music, I think Defected Records. Defected Records is one of largest and one of the most respected record labels in dance music, globally.
Imagine having access to loops and sounds from a multi-platinum selling percussionist? Defected Records resident “Drum Warrior” Shovell of the M People has collaborated with Loopmasters to bring you this sample pack to help you “Move On Up”.
Defected Percussion are quick to program thanks to the metadata available via the REX. Locate the hit point, splice, and reshuffle to suit your beat. WAV files are also included, making Defected Percussion usable in all Digital Audio Workstations and Samplers. With over 1.26 GB worth of one-shots and loops recorded at 44.1 kHz / 24-bit, Defected Percussion provides you with a range of exotic and traditional percussive sounds ideal for sprucing up House music. Though created with House in mind, the influx of House influenced music in mainstream Pop cannot go unnoticed and recommend Defected Percussion to anybody wanting a catchy percussive hook to color their track.
Feel the Grove
Regardless of genre, percussion samples are always useful. Adding traditionally Middle-Eastern percussive sounds to a Western-styled track can open up a whole range of unique textures that could become your sound.
Having looped grooves played by professional percussionists is invaluable in the way a heavily sequenced and quantized track can be transformed from static to neck wiggling.
It’s remarkable how much “oomph” can be added to a drum pattern by layering a tambourine hit with a snare drum for extra rattle, or how a shaker can knit an entire rhythm section together while simultaneously adding that top end polish your beat was in dire need of.
Each sample pack explored within this article is unique, with the sounds of the packs even more unique. Due to the wide range of samples and loops available in this article, I strongly recommend spending time on each of the websites, flicking through the player, to hear how they sound in both isolation and in context.
Whether you’re wanting to add a professional percussionist using loops, sequence your own with one-shots or add a distinctive flavor to your beats through found sounds, there’s a pack out there for you.