Trap Beat Guide: Bass - Essential tips for making 808S patterns


Making a trap beat shouldn’t be too complicated. In fact, most of them consist of very few elements. In this article I’ll show you my trap beat-making workflow! In case you missed it.


Once you have a melody it’s time to create a bass pattern. Most of trap bass sounds are called "808s" and are long, distorted sub bass notes. Here’s a typical trap bass pattern:

The red bass notes play each time the kick hits. This way the kickdrum gives the bass a nice thump at the beginning. Most times I even copy the kickdrum patterns onto the bass track and modify the pitch of the notes to suit my melody (or the other way around, I start from the bass pattern and copy it onto the kick track). 

Make sure that your sample is playing the correct notes. You can always use the Tuner audio effect in Ableton to check what pitch your 808 sample is playing at. Most times you’re going to play the root of the chord, often times the first note of the scale. If you want to rely on the notes in the Clip View, I recommend tuning your sample to C3 using the Transposition in Simpler.

If you want to make your 808 pattern more interesting, you could try adding glide notes. This effect is easy to create - all you need to do is go to Simpler’s controls on the bass sample, turn on glide in the dropdown menu in the lower right corner, and choose a glide time.

Now go edit your bass pattern, and try to make the notes overlap to create a sliding effect. Example:

Another way of adding glide could be to draw in pitch bend automation. To do this open the bass MIDI clip and select Envelopes. Now you can draw in a pitch bend automation - this effect may sound a bit different than glide. 

A common problem with bass samples could be that it’s too short. Often times when you’re playing higher notes with the 808, it cuts off, because the pitch algorithm makes the sample shorter. You can avoid this by enabling Warping in Simpler. I like to choose the Complex mode for 808s.

You may find that your sample sounds better after adding a short pitch envelope. This is a technique of giving the sample just a bit of higher pitch at the beginning. It can be easily done in Simpler’s Controls tab - a few semitones up and a short decay should do the job.