In this tutorial, I’m gonna show you how to use the built in instruments as well as VST plugins and instruments inside Ableton live 10. Lets break this down into 4 parts. In the first part we’ll go over how to set up the built in instruments in Ableton as well as load presets.
The second part I’ll show you how to set up and get VSTs working. And the third part how to load those VSTs on some tracks and in the fourth part we’ll go over some of the basics of using midi tracks inside Ableton live.
So let’s jump into the software and start with part number one.
let’s start by loading up one of Ableton live’s built in instruments. To find the building instruments, go to the browser on the left hand side of your screen and click the tab that says instruments. Depending on which version of Ableton live you have you’re gonna see different options here. all versions of Ableton live come with a drum rack so start with that.
There are 3 easy ways to load instruments inside Ableton live. You can drag and drop right on to midi track. Or you can drag and drop right into the empty area and it will create a new midi track with that instrument on it.
For the easiest way I think is just click on a midi track and double click on the instrument that you want and that was it right on to the track.
Once you’ve loaded the instrument it’s gonna show up in the device editor down on the bottom of the screen. If you don’t see the device editor, click the arrow on the bottom right hand of the screen or you can hold down shift and press the tab key on your keyboard to switch between the device editor and the clip editor. Now we can load a preset by clicking on this hot swap button right in the top right of the drum rack.
You can find all the drum rack presets that came with your version of Ableton live by clicking on drums or going down to “places” and clicking on “packs”.
Every version of Ableton live comes with the core library so you can load up the drum kit from the core library. Click on the arrow next to it and open up the folder that says drums and loas core kit.
Now you can play the drum kit you loaded on your midi keyboard or controller. Or you can play it on your computer keyboard by activating the computer midi keyboard on the top right.
Now let’s look at how we can get our VSTs working inside Ableton live preferences.
Start by going to options and clicking on preferences.
Go to the tab labeled plugins and make sure that you have VST plugin custom folder set on, and if using any VST 3 plugins make sure you also have those options on as well. If you’re on mac go ahead turn on audio units also but be aware that if you’re collaborating with anyone who’s using a PC they’re only gonna have access to VST instruments.
When you’re installing VSTs make sure to install them all to the same folder. Ableton live will only let you specify 1 folder for VST plugins. Ableton live 10 will only work with 64 bit plugins. Make sure you read the system requirements for any plugins that you want to install. Once you’ve told Live where to find all your plugins press re scan button. And once it’s done scanning go ahead and close out of this one.
Now your plugin should show up in the browser, and you can load a plugin onto your other midi track. Now that plugins are installed we can go to the plugins tab in our browser and start loading up instruments.
VST 2 plugins show up under the dropdown labeled VST and VST 3 plugins show up under the one labeled VST 3.
You can also save built in instruments and plugins to your collections to access the ones you use frequently much faster than going through all these menus. All you have to do is right click and select a color from the context menu. You can label them whatever you want.
You can download HELM VST from the link below:
Its 100 percent free to download and it sounds awesome.
There are tons of great free VSTs out there ,so don’t feel like you need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get new instruments. loading VST instrument works the same as loading it built an instrument. just click on the other midi track and then double click on instrument. And that will open up the plugin window.
Plugins will also show up down in the device editor. To edit the plugins or go through the prestes, click on little wrench icon and that will open up the plugin window.
let’s make a short piece of music using our midi tracks.
Recording midi works the same as recording audio. instead of recording let’s start by making a drumbeat. First go to the top of the midi track with the drums on it and create a new clip. Just right click an empty cell and select insert midi clip.
This should bring up the clip editor in the bottom of the screen but if it doesn’t for some reason we already know that we can use shift and tab to switch back and forth between the device editor in the clip editor.
All the names of the samples and a drum rack will show up on the left side of the clip editor. to addition the sounds, click on little headphone icon with your mouse and then you can click on the keys here with each sample sounds like.
Now you can start drawing in notes by double clicking in some of these empty areas on the grid. You can also use the pencil tool by coming up and clicking on the pencil up in the top right of the screen.
Turn the pencil tool off by pressing the B. key on your keyboard and now youre back to a normal mouse cursor. I can use the mouse to select any of the notes on the grid and drag to move them around.
You can also move notes around in time, by clicking on them and using the left and right arrows on your keyboard. You can also change the sample that’s playing by clicking on a note and using the up and down arrows on your keyboard.
When you’re using a third party VST instrument instead of the drum sample names were just going to see the piano keys on the left hand side. Note C shows us which octave your in. depending on the preset the plugin you’re using you just have to audition the notes. To see what they sound like.
As you hover your mouse over the left side, you can see it shows you which note youre actually playing on the keyboard. So go ahead and run some base notes. Click play on the bass clip that you just created, both of the clips will start playing in time.
You can change the pitches of them by clicking on them and using the up and down arrow keys.
OK! Lets continue this tutorial in a PART 2 coming soon.