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Arts & Entertainment

Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums


Lesson time 09:45 min

Tim’s drum sounds are legendary. Learn how careful audio engineering can turn dry drums into something that thunders through headphones.

Teaches Producing and Beatmaking
Step inside the production studio with Timbaland. In his first-ever online class, Tim teaches his process for creating infectious beats and making sonic magic.
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Everybody listen to music on headphones, earpods, earbuds. 9 out of 10, nobody listens to music, these days, in big speakers. So the drums have to sound big in my earpods and in my headphones. I want 'em to sound big. So I just kinda take my time in how I sample 'em in. I really, like, deal with the compressors and the EQs and make sure it's right. And then I make a whole drum kit. But I just take a kick and just kinda, like, make sure it sounds great in my headphones. And then I put it on a drum rack. And there it is. That's why it sounds so fat. I don't have to layer anything. Only thing I layer is maybe a rhythm off a kick, like a ba-boom, like a boom, boom. So it's like two different tones of a kick. But I don't really-- I don't have to layer the kick because I make sure the kick is hitting at the capacity that I want it to hit, so I don't have to layer it. If I have a kick drum that's not hitting-- [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] --like that. You know, it's hitting. But I'm like, um, it could hit harder. So I just, you know, just add a EQ. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] So I'll go find it. There. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] This is with drum-- let's take that drum. So I'll take-- that's this drum. This is cool. But we want to lift it up a little bit. So you put-- I'll put a EQ on it right quick. So-- [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] Let's fatten it up a little bit. See? I just-- but it didn't sound like that. This is how it sounded regular. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] Beefs it up. What snares really like-- uh, I think snares-- you don't really-- you don't want them to be just as hard as the kick. So you just-- you don't-- [PLAYING SNARE NOTE] That's cool enough. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] A snare is-- [PLAYING SNARE NOTES] You know, it's all about the texture of the snare, you know? [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] It's all about texture or which snare you want. It's not about raising it up. For a snare, for me, I just raise the volume because the texture is there. I don't want it to be nothing else. it's a matter of getting the kick drum to match the snare, for me. And it should be for you. [DRUM BEATS] - Tim is a unique case. He, uh, he's got a thing, and his software. And, you know, he's processing his drums pretty well before they even come to me. So when I get a track from Tim, I'm just trying to kinda keep it what he did, and then make it a little bit better. So, like, right here, he gave me that drum loop and the snare was kinda part of it. So I went in, and looked at the track as he put it in here, and was able to pull that snare onto a different track. So I could kinda level the snare a little bit and give it a little more knock and punch apart from where it originally came in. I mean, most people kinda track their drums out and, like, you know, this drum, and this drum, and this drum. But the way Tim works in his computer, he really likes to make his drums hit a certain way before they come out. And h...

Find your beat

Grammy-winning music producer Timbaland takes you behind the boards to teach you his process for creating iconic tracks with artists like Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Aaliyah. In his first-ever online class, learn how to collaborate with vocalists, layer new tracks, and create hooks that stick. Step into Timbaland’s studio and learn from one of the industry’s most innovative hit makers.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

More valuable than the techniques were Tim's 1-on-1s where you felt like - where I felt like he was talking directly to me, like I was in the room with him. That conversation was we had at the end was it. Thank you Tim, and thank you Masterclass.

its helped me find a deeper love and trust for music, it's beautiful. also changed my process, now im making finished beats everyday and i didn't have that before. Maybe it's because im tapping into that vibe. Thanks, Timberland, hope you see this one

Very charming! And I enjoyed the whole process.

Amazing work by Timbaland and his camp. I love the entire team and as someone in the music business it helps me in my work for understanding this process.


Larry G.

Nobody in my family ever played music, having an established producer who is also self-taught makes it easier to comprehend for those of us who've never had the luxury of much support in regards to music education. He speaks the same language, and I understand the theory of it a lot easier than if I had to go research a bunch of advanced musical concepts that are a research project in itself just to read and comprehend.

Mike E.

Finding pockets in your beats give a track a certain feel. Simplicity is key for the artists and the consumer to understand it. Building a swing in a beat is good to create a groove into the beat. This video was amazing. I definitely would show my teens how to create a groove with this.

Chris H.

Chris' advice on approaching mixing in this chapter is a bit of gold. "Don't get crazy plug-in happy before you strike a balance." "A lot of low end comes from the fader." I've read this elsewhere -- start with using the faders only. See if you can get a good mix there. If that doesn't work, slowly add other elements, like panning and EQ and effects and compression, while trying to maintain that initial balance you got with the faders. Also, notice well how he really wants to call out Tim for giving him a bounce with only one track and all these effects smashed into each element (the "gumbo" Tim mentioned in an earlier lesson), but he can only state on camera that it's unusual but it works for them. Do you mixing producer a favor and give him or her individual, dry tracks to craft a great mix with. They will thank you for it!

Joseph S.

This lesson barely scratches the surface of what the video description says. Obviously beefing the EQ will make it louder but you can't just do that. It's better to use a subtractive method. Compression also makes a world of difference, esp. on kicks, if you want a louder, harder kick. I'm glad they mentioned rolling off the low end, cuz Tim had the sub freqs at like +12db! That will blow your monitors quick. I guess that's why he has an engineer.

A fellow student

Hand on my heart, I can say that I would die happy knowing I had the oppurtunity to work with this great man. #dreams

Clarisse D.

Hi guys, I'm a beginner here. Can anyone recommend me names of Softwares that I can use to create these beasts and practice my skills? And what are the materials that Timbaland is using precisely? I want software and materials for really good quality. Any thoughts?

A fellow student

I remember when I first watched this part of the series it didn’t help much since I would export my drum sequences right out the mpc and do minor tweaks in Cubasis. Now that I’ve learned about the importance of mixing and mastering, coming back to this 6 months later is a whole new video than before.

Kristian K.

It is really annoying that you just run the musicsound thru the mic when it is played. Especially when the mix engineer is explaining. The adjustments he shows means nothing if we can not hear it.

A fellow student

This was great but hearing more about eq'ing the different layers and avoiding phasing issues would have been more informative.

DJ Peak Performer

Because I will buy a new headphone, I would like to know a model number of audoi-technica headphone which Mr Tim use in this lecture. ATH-M60X, ATH-M70X or etc.....???