In this lesson you can discover how to build the TOK or PUNCH part of a hardstyle kick in FL Studio. Everything in this lesson is FL Studio ONLY. This way you can always use it as a guide. It can save you a lot of money as well (for buying “special” plugins).
Hardstyle tok elements
To build a hardstyle tok (or complete hardstyle kick) you first need to have a hardstyle kick TAIL. Please check out my other hardstyle kick lessons to learn how to make one. When you have a tail, you can sample parts of it and cut out elements to use for your tok.
I always cut out the tok part, the “tick” part and the clean 909 kick part (from the undistorted signal).
- The tok is about 100 ms long.
- The tick is about 10-20 ms long.
- The 909 kick is about 200 ms long.
So, everything is cut from the original kick tail. We can use this now to build a hardstyle tok.
How to make a hardstyle tok
The sample elements we just cut are now added to the playlist in a new FL Studio project. It’s good to arrange them in the order: tick, tok, 909. This represents the natural flow of time from top to bottom.
It’s a good idea to add an automation clip underneath each sample. This controls the volume. It allows for full control over the “length” of each sample.
The “tick” is there for the snappy attack. It’s short, snappy and has extra high frequencies.
The “tok” is there for the body and mid frequencies. I found that separating the tok from the tick a bit, helps to get more punch. It sounds better.
The “909” is there to give the punch more “oompff”, more bass and more power. Again, separating it from the tok a little bit helps to make it sound right.
Shaping your hardstyle tok
While you’re tweaking the punch, you can play with the phase of the samples. Moving them from the left to the right. Until it sounds good.
So, add the samples to the playlist and separate each one a bit, just like I did in the video. Use volume clips and shift samples to shape and tweak your punch.
Add your hardstyle tok samples to the mixer
Ideally, you also need to route each sample to a free mixer track. This allows for equalizing and shaping each sample. I always add an EQ on each mixer track.
Equalizing the tick
For the tick I often use the EQ to remove some low frequencies and add some high frequencies. I found this to work really well. It opens up the tick sound and it punches through in a mix. You can clearly hear the difference when you change some of the settings. It goes from closed and dull to open, snappy and powerful.
Equalizing the tok
For the tok you don’t always have to do anything. It just is. However, often it works well to remove some lower frequencies. It just depends how it plays together with the 909 kick.
Equalizing the 909
For the 909 kick you can remove some of the higher frequencies. This also just depends on how it makes the entire punch sound. It’s not a “rule”.
For each sample you can always change the volume levels on the mixer. This way you can make one part louder (or quieter) than the others.
It’s a good practice to route the samples on each mixer track to another mixer track. Route everything to just ONE and the same track. This way you can add effects to affect the punch as a whole. I always like to add an EQ and distortion/limiter to this one mixer track. This squeezes the volume peaks.
Tweaking your hardstyle tok
Now, building a punch is always a matter of playing with all these settings, until it starts to sound good. But you can play with even more settings…
Each individual sample has these pitch and time-stretching options to change its shape and sound. I very often like to play with the MUL setting. It’s often smart to set the algorithm to monophonic (e3 mono). This keeps your sample’s characteristics intact.
Other options I like to use are the “reverse polarity” and “pogo” settings. You can do this for each sample differently. Of course, you can also combine all the different options. Just play around and change things.
Play with all the settings
That’s how you build the entire punch: play with all these settings and if something sounds right, keep it and go to the next option.
All the changes in the 909 kick always have a big impact on how the punch sounds. You have to find what you’re looking for. Do you want the tok to be heavy? Boomy? Light? Snappy? There’s no right or wrong. Play until it works. In the video I will give you a demonstration to show you this process a little bit. Just pay attention to how the entire punch changes.
I want to give you guys a 100% FL Studio ONLY approach. But feel free to use other plugins if you want to.
Use any sample your want
You also don’t “have to” use the tick and 909 from the original hardstyle tail. You can use any samples you want. But always select samples for a specific function. For example, the tick needs to be snappy, so pick a snappy sample.
If you haven’t yet, you can download a free Hardstyle Sample Pack by clicking that link. It also contains all these hardstyle kick elements.
Hardstyle tok is just a part of a hardstyle kick
It’s important to understand that normally, you also add the tail and low end (sub bass) to the playlist. This is what a complete hardstyle kick needs. The punch should always be tweaked based on the entire hardstyle kick.
A punch might sound good on its own, but it might not go well with the tail. Ideally, you throw all elements on the playlist and try to melt everything together. Simply using the methods I show in this video. With the tail (and sub bass) on the playlist, you use the exact same methods as I’m discussing here. The process is the same.
Completing your hardstyle kick
Once you have a punch or entire kick you like, you can make a sample out of it to use it in your song. You could use Edison for this. Just hit the record button and play your kick. This makes it easy to see the waveform of the kick and to remove any silent areas. Let the kick start and end without any delay or silence.
Now you can save it as a sample and use that sample in your projects.
Hopefully this lesson helps you improve your hardstyle kicks. If you want to learn more about mixing, feel free to check out my EDM Mixing Guide to discover all the strategies I use to get these clean and powerful mixes.
For this lesson, the following FL Studio stock plugins were used:
- Fruity Parametric EQ 2
- Fruity Waveshaper
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