Finger drumming has been a fundamental part of hip hop production and live music since the first samplers and drum machines were released back in the 1980's. These days we have access to state of the art finger drumming gear, which allows endless creative possibilities for beatmakers who want to add a live element to their production workflow.
Let's be honest, if you want to be able to make beats like the pro's you should at least have some basic live finger drumming skills. Not only does finger drumming look impressive, but it is also fun and creates inspiration for both studio production and live performances. Check out this video of AraabMUZIK going H.A.M on the pads.
Finger drumming does require coordination and timing, but with dedication to practice you can start playing some dope live drum patterns in no time.
In this finger drumming guide you will learn everything you need to level up your hip hop finger drumming skills.
We will also show you the best beat making equipment and software that you can use for responsive and accurate finger pad play. We will take a look at few drum machine/MIDI pad controller options for different budgets and give insight into where you can source the best high quality sounds and samples to ensure your beats are BANGIN'.
During this tutorial we will also roundup the best finger drumming courses available plus introduce you to an innovative new program named Melodics which allows you to learn how to finger drum in an intuitive and fun way (it works like Guitar Hero!- you can download it for free with 60 lessons. You can also use it to learn how to play hip hop keyboard.
You can take a look inside the program in our full Melodics Review
DISCOUNT OFFER ON FULL MELODICS SUBSCRIPTION: CLICK THE FOLLOWING PROMO CODE & ENTER IT AT CHECKOUT FOR 20% OFF MELODICS >> HIPHOP-20
Best Finger Drumming Equipment : MIDI Pad Controllers VS All In One Beat Production Studio Machines
When looking for the best equipment for finger drumming you really have 2 main options to consider:
- Use a MIDI controller which will trigger sounds and samples from within you Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as FL Studio.
- Use a stand alone beat production studio machine that comes with it's own software, sounds and samples but can also be used with your DAW of choice.
Regardless if you choose a MIDI controller or a beat production machine you must ensure you select a device which provides:
- PAD SENSITIVITY : High pad sensitivity is crucial for finger drumming, especially for playing sounds efficiently and for accurate hit velocity control (Most decent devices offer options to change the pad sensitivity settings, via both hardware and software)
- DRUM MACHINE HIT DETECTION ACCURACY: Hit detection accuracy issues like occasional drop-outs, unintended triggering of pads and significant jumps in velocity can ruin your finger drumming sessions. Always choose a unit with quality hit detection accuracy.
Below you will find our recommendations for the best MIDI Pad controllers and stand alone units for finger drumming. We have also listed some sources of high quality sounds/samples to use with the respective units.
Best MIDI Pad Controllers For Finger Drumming
The Midi Pad Controller triggers drum or instrument sample from within you DAW of choice.
>> If you need high quality hip hop sounds and samples for finger drumming we highly recommend that you check out these deals
Midi pad controllers are a great option for beatmakers who want to perform and produce with sample-based sounds. As you will see, some of these units also come with both pads and keys which can be very handy in the production process.
Here are 2 of our favorite MIDI pad controllers for finger drumming that have high pad sensitivity and detection accuracy:
Akai Professional MPD218 | MIDI Drum Pad Controller
The MPD218 is a pad controller perfect for hip hop beat makers who finger drum. Its intuitive blend of MPC controls and technologies mesh with easy USB connectivity to bring the feel of classic beat making into the world of computer music production. (Includes over $400 of free software)
Last update on 2022-08-07 at 13:56
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII | MIDI DRUM PAD Controller + Keys
The Akai MPK mini is an ultra-compact keyboard and pad controller that gives modern day beat makers and finger drummers more flexibility in the studio. The array of hardware controls allow you to record, compose, and perform with virtual instruments, effect plugins, and DAW of choice whenever inspiration strikes. Purchasing a pad/keyboard combo controller is a great option for producers on a tight budget.
Last update on 2022-08-07 at 01:42
UPDATE: If you are looking for high quality hip hop or trap samples to use with your MIDI pad controller be sure to take advantage of the massively discounted (50%) sample bundle packs below (limited time only). One of these bundles will provide you with enough samples to last a lifetime!
Best Studio Production Machines For Finger Drumming
There are a few different studio production machines on the market.
However, there is only one studio production device that we recommend to hip hop beatmakers, and that is the Native Instruments Maschine.
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The Maschine is leaps and bounds ahead of it's competition in terms of quality and functionality. Native Instruments are known for their high quality virtual instruments and samples. Hip hop producers and finger drummers can take advantage of their impressive catalog of sound banks by loading them straight into Maschine.
If you can afford it we highly recommend pairing machine with Komplete as it contains an incredible 100+ premium instruments and effects, more than 45 Expansions, more than 90,000 sounds, and over 650 GB of content.
Last update on 2022-08-08 at 11:49
There are a couple of versions of Maschine available. Let's take a look at the 2 different options...
Native Instruments Maschine is the gold standard equipment for serious finger drummers. This unit ships with its own integrated hardware / software system includes sampler, arranger, mixer, FX, and a built-in audio interface.
It works as a standalone unit but you can also use it as a VST or Audio Unit in Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio, or your favorite DAW.
The workflow follows the classic MPC blueprint, with high pad sensitivity and accuracy. Take a look at the video below to see Maschine in action.
Last update on 2022-08-08 at 11:49
Native Instruments Maschine Mikro is a more affordable version that provides more then enough features for most beatmakers and finger drummers. Mikro comes with full versions of MASSIVE, MONARK, and REAKTOR PRISM.
Mikro is a fast, flexible hardware/software instrument that you can use on its own or with any DAW.
This is the perfect option for those of you who want a compact studio controller option to finger drum on while you travel.
Last update on 2022-08-07 at 11:29
Finger Drumming Tutorials - Finger Drumming For Beginners
The following finger drumming tutorial videos feature Native Instruments Maschine, however most of the techniques demonstrated can be performed on any decent pad controller.
Hopefully these videos will help you understand the basics of finger drumming so you can start improving your finger drum technique today. If you feel as though you would like some more advanced N.I Maschine or finger drum training we have listed some helpful courses and programs below.
Introduction: Basic Finger Drumming Techniques
The following video outlines the basics of hand positioning and basic finger drum techniques for beginners. Get out your pad controller and play along!
Lesson 1: Feel The Beat With Simple 2 Finger Drum Technique
When you start finger drumming you may find it difficult to play in time. Playing to a backing track can help you improve your timing. MASCHINE allows you to load sample projects that you can play along with, as you will notice in the video below. Alternatively you can just fire up some of your favorite tunes and play along with a simple kick snare combo. Playing on the Machine allows you to record your training session so that you can play it back to listen to how accurate you were. We highly recommend using Melodics for your finger drum training as they have over 60 free lessons which you can play along to. Melodics gives you a percentage score at score at the end of the lesson representing how accurate your finger drumming was.
Lesson 2: Finger Drumming With Both Hands
Once you feel comfortable with playing simple finger drum patterns with one hand you can start to introduce the other hand. Start by playing the same pads at the same time with both the left and right hands. Start with one finger on each hand and slowly add extra fingers as you get more comfortable. Sure it is quite boring, but it will help build the motor patterns that will allow you to become a great finger drummer.
Lesson 3: Finger Drumming With Alternating Hands
Once you feel comfortable with playing with both hands at the same time you can start to get a little trickier by alternating your hands. The right hand will play one particular groove, while the left hand will play another. Using different hands to play different grooves and patterns can be difficult at first. Start slow and you will slowly but surely work your way up to more complex rhythms.
Lesson 4 (Advanced Maschine Functions): Note Repeat
The previous videos demonstrated basic finger drumming techniques that can be applied to any pad controller. However, when you choose to use MASCHINE as your finger drumming equipment of choice you can take advantage of many of it's cool advanced functions. For example, the following video demonstrates the "Note Repeat" function which can really help to add some flare to your finger drum productions.
Lesson 5 (Advanced Maschine Functions): Loop On The Fly
Another advanced Maschine feature that you can implement into your finger drumming routine is the ability to "loop on the fly". This function is a must have for any hip hop producer who wants to bang out sliced up samples on the pads.
Melodics Finger Drumming Training Program
Melodics is hands down the best way to build your finger drumming skills and keyboard skills. The program is free to download, including 60 free lessons to start building your rhythm, timing, and muscle memory immediately. There is also a monthly or yearly subscription option which is quite affordable. You can get 20% off by using out code below!
"I had drum machines and pad controllers for years, and it frustrated me how hard it was to learn new patterns and beats. I’ve watched tons of videos from expert finger drummers, but it always felt so hard to develop the dexterity and muscle memory you need".– Sam Gribben
Check out the video below to see a Melodics finger drumming lesson in action.
You have the option to subscribe to Melodics for unlimited access to premium lessons, including exclusive lessons from acclaimed artists.
*CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK & INPUT CODE ON CHECK OUT TO GET 20% OFF MELODICS >> HIPHOP-20
NI Maschine & Finger Drumming Courses
Maschine Hip Hop & Trap Beat Design:
In this course, Brighton based producer CAPSUN invites you into his studio to share the secrets behind designing, sequencing and mixing unique catchy drum parts for a variety of styles, using Native Instruments Maschine.
Producer’s Guide to Music Theory with Maschine:
If you own Maschine and feel you could do with a bit more knowledge on the theoretical side of music, to help you understand how to create basslines, chord sequences and other musical parts in a particular key, then this course is for you
Chill Trap and Future Bass Production with Maschine:
Producer CAPSUN invites you into his studio to share the secrets behind producing dope Chill Trap beats with Native Instruments Maschine.
Complete Glitch Hop Production with Maschine:
In this course from Producertech, experienced producer Rich, aka Defazed, teaches how to make a heavy track in one of the most current and popular styles of electronic music - Glitch Hop. Also great for learning Hip Hop production techniques.
Producer’s Guide to Music Theory with Maschine:
If you own Maschine and feel you could do with a bit more knowledge on the theoretical side of music, to help you understand how to create basslines, chord sequences and other musical parts in a particular key, then this course is for you.
Maschine MK3 Complete Courses Collection:
After this massive 24-hour tutorial package, you’ll find yourself knowing Maschine inside and out, having learned every aspect of the software and hardware, been shown numerous examples of track production and even had lessons on music theory.
>> Read our full Timbaland Masterclass Review
Top Rated Maschine/Wav/MIDI Finger Drum Sound Banks
Adventures In Hip Hop (Midi, Kits & One Shots):
Adventures in Hip Hop takes you on journey through current and classic Hip Hop styles, providing a huge library of inspirational production kits and one shots, specially arranged for Maschine and Ableton.
Hybrid Trap Templates (Midi, Kits & One Shots):
Hybrid trap templates delivers an absolutely huge array of flexible arrangements, multitrack parts, midi and presets in the current trap sound.
Modern Hip Hop (Midi, Kits & One Shots):
Experience a new twist on a classic formula as Modern Hip Hop brings you to brave new heights. Warm and punchy drums, deep baselines and smooth melodies create a vibe unlike any other - one that will surely get the creativity flowing.
Final Thoughts On Finger Drumming For Beginners
Hopefully this post has helped you gain an understanding of the basics of finger drumming.
It will take time to master the art of finger drumming but with patience, determination and dedication to the craft you will be creating intricate beats in no time.
Once you become a master finger drummer you will gain the confidence to play live and develop better tracks, which will hopefully allow you to sell more beats online.
As hip hop producers, we should all take the time to at least learn the fundamentals of finger drumming so we can add a more human element to our studio sessions, and have a lot of fun in the process.
Please leave a comment below detailing your experiences with finger drumming. Are you just learning how to finger drum or are you an experienced finger drummer looking to level up your chops? Let us know!