Introducing Radio Shack’s Drum Workshop!

Welcome to Radio Shack’s drum sample workshop. If you’re interested in learning more about this site, feel free to browse around. Be sure to catch our most recent article on percussion tips & tricks! We’re happy you’re here and hope you enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity of seeing Radio Shack reach out to the community by diversifying its target market. Thanks!

Here’s a little video to portray what we aim to achieve:

Various Percussion And Their Drum Sample Sounds

In this article the following percussion instruments and free drum kits will be discussed; The Darbuka, Frame Drum/Bendir, Indian Tabla, and the Cajon. These instruments create very unique drum sample sounds and can really add something extra when working in music production. Lets get started: Darbuka (also darabuka, derbouka (Fr.) or tarabuka) is a vase drum, and it is used especially in the Balkans, the Middle East and the rest of the Arab world. The right-hand turn (towards the center) the heavy beat, ‘doom’ and the so-called ‘branch’ on the edge of the drumhead. The left hand fills the rhythm (usually with additional ‘power). It is important to note that there are two types darbuka, the Egyptian and the Greek / Turkish model, both producing their own unique drum sound. You often play the Greek / Turkish model with the left hand to cut the edge of the drumhead (branch) with the fingers. However, when playing the Egyptian model that technique is rarely used and you will play the instrument differently. There have been many music producers that use these as hip hop drum samples. It adds nice diversity to the music. Some producers even go as far as saying it makes for the best drum samples they’ve ever heard due to the distinct ethic timbre. Continuing on, the darbuka in Greece, also called toumberleki is well known and often used in combination with a lira (kementsje). Which can create a very special sound. In case you are producing music and you want to implement the darbuka in one of your track. Make sure you find some real drum sample packs to make it sound as real and lively as possible.

Frame Drum / Bendir

A framedrum is a drum of which the drum head is stretched and tuned over a wooden, cylindrical ring. A clear characteristic for frame drums is that the drumhead diameter is much grater than the height of the frame or ring, creating nice drum sounds. Again just as with the darbuka when using samples, make sure you use real samples for adapting the frame drum in your music, for the best sounding results. You can even find free drum samples on the web, such as realdrumsamples.com, if you search well. Those will be the best 808 drum sample packs and loops you can find.

Congas (Great for Latin music)

congasA conga is about 70-75 cm high and is a safe drum, barrel-shaped and open at the bottom, which is usually played with hands. The trunk is hollowed to an hourglass-shaped vase, which is then covered with a shaved skin which is pulled right by ropes for the correct tension in order to produce the real drum sounds – this is why a lot of audio engineers use them for real drum samples, they just sound so authentic! The skin must be strong and supple. An antelope skin, therefore, is the most appropriate, but since the antelope poaching has become scarce and prohibited, goatskin is now commonly used. The origin of the instrument can be found in the Congolese Makuta drum back. This was taken to Cuba by slaves and eventually became important in the Cuban music. After 1930, New York’s jazz orchestras discovered the real drum sounds of the conga, and the instrument was gradually established in the western music. The conga received over the years a lot of changes in form and appearance. Today, the conga is thicker. The instrument is made of wood or fiberglass. Wooden congas generate generally warmer, fuller and deeper drum sounds than fiberglass congas…This is really reflected in conga drum samples and drum kits too. However, congas from fiberglass usually have a brighter and slightly more powerful character than their wooden brethren. If you look hard enough, you can probably find some free drum samples of congas online…You won’t regret it.

How do free drum kits work?

When someone is trying to make beats online, the first thing they will do is download a music production software. This can be anything from FL Studio, to Logic Pro to Ableton live. When they open up the software they are presented with thousands of options to choose from. Plugins, presets, midi setting and of course, their DAW of choice.

When you want to make beats inside that software you will need high quality sounds. How your beats will sound depends entirely on the quality of your sample packs. A lot of people ask us, where do you find these great sounding drum kits? Of course, you can look online and google “free drum kits” and you will find many results. But often, the quality is very poor. There are only a few companies that are performing great in this area.

You will also need many sounds. What good is a sample pack with only 3 kicks, 3 snares and 1 crash? It doesn’t get you very far. When choosing a sample pack it is high recommend to choose one with around 50 kicks, 50 snares, 50 finger snaps, and so on.

Another often used instrument is the drum organ.

There are probably two kinds of home organist: those who want to sit down and play (without having to fiddle with knobs and switches) and those who want to mould the instrument to their own way of playing.

The relatively new AR series by Yamaha has attempted to strike a neat balance for each kind of player but there have been a few EL die-hards who just could not do without certain features of their instrument. The flexibility of the EL90 and 70, for example, which have been around for nearly ten years has also made them the chosen instrument of many artists on the concert circuit.

The fact that you can vary the sound so much on these instruments allows each player to sound unique. This variety of sound is central to the EL range and the reason why they have remained so popular. So to keep everyone happy Yamaha have released the new EL900 to be sold in parallel with the AR100 and AR80. This is a great addition to any hip hop drum samples you might already have.

With a sideways glance you could be forgiven for thinking the EL900 was its older relation the EL90. A closer look reveals a few differences – the side panels are much darker and the top panel is now black as opposed to dark brown. The button colouring scheme is clearer and quite reminiscent of the HS range of organs released in the late 80s. Perhaps a new cabinet design would have been welcome as a way to distinguish it from the older models but of course it’s what is inside that counts.

One of the most attractive features of the EL900 is the fact that it is 100% compatible with all previous EL models. EL organs have been blessed with a huge quantity of software from both Yamaha and third party developers and many people have invested heavily in this. All of this software will work on the EL900 – a fact that is bound to be welcomed by existing owners ready for a change. And we must not forget how many sounds, registrations and rhythms people make over 7-8 years of having an instrument. They don’t want to lose everything when they change their organ or their drum samples.

Percussion Tips & Tricks

We had some folks at the workshop ask if we could put together some percussion tips & tricks, so here it is!

 TIP 1: Building Latin rhythm 

congas2“Conga is the heartbeat of Latin music, combined with a lot of other instruments. Conga is no percussion instrument in itself: it is the combination of congas, bongos, timbales, cowbell, … These drums sounds together create the groove. You can find free real drum samples for these instruments on the internet. Something very different from pop music as we know it: The drummer and the bassist give the basics, the rest of the tools make drum samples that enrich groove.

The conga usually has a simple pattern that is constantly repeated. You can keep all that percussion sec and thereby give the rest of the song a lot of space, but you might as well combine the congas with other percussion instruments so you get a vibe that you’ll face as a percussionist lot of freedom. The instrument is even used for producing hip hop drum sounds.

TIP 2: Alternative arrangement

Every musician has his training or his practice sessions to learn certain techniques and these must be mastered to create the ultimate drum sounds. Certainly percussionists and drummers tend to have a certain riff or fill that they can use when they play something new. Well What I recommend is to always go back the basics of percussion: what do I want to do as a percussionist? I want a package to color or just want to add value to what is already there? Focus your attention on what you want to do so again and try to challenge yourself. Ask yourself: what can I do? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? I want to improve those weaknesses if I want to exploit more stronger sides? I think it is always good to exploit your strengths.

TIP 3: Congas in pop I

There are advantages and disadvantages to the conga as an instrument. The advantage is that you can create great music with free drum samples and the colors that you can give to a basic beat as we know it in the West. Specific groove Of course there is also immediately the biggest drawback: congas give a very specific color (drum sounds) to your music.

TIP 4: Congas in pop II

The basic function of drums in the pop world is congasthat they give structure and a groove to the song. Congas cannot do that because they are not powerful enough. In the pop world as we know it, the real drum sounds of the conga are just the little brother of the rhythm. Then you have to know your place well if conga players will always be something in the pop music that complements the groove and creates atmosphere. You can in other words, what the drummer is doing, complete with a melody, but you can also in a very different way to give color to the rhythm with these drum samples section by building a next step. Of course, you will first have to match well with the drummer, but that’s an art in itself. Thanks for reading on this site!

How To Play Conga



The conga instrument is made from a solid piece of tree trunk, most of the time made of gone wood or – even better – lengé wood. The harder and heavier the wood, the better the drum sounds. Traditionally it is believed that spirits inhabit the tree. Therefore, the chopping of the tree is always executed with ritual ceremonies and sacrifices to appease the spirits.

The specific rattling sound is caused by the ‘kessing, which is on its turn made of wire and tin. The instrument is played with bare hands and can produce three different drum sounds.

The drum sounds of the congas cannot be missed at any party in West Africa. Where its hip hop drum samples are eagerly used. A conga ensemble usually consists of three or four congas. One conga is used as a solo instrument and the two or three other congas function as the guidance. In addition, the low bass part is formed by the tumbao. The tumbao has two sides to play and its beats are produced with a stick. The drumhead of tumbao is very thick, and gives a deep low real drum sound.

There are three sizes tumbao distinguished: kenkeni (small), the sangban (middle) and tumbaoba (largest). You can also make the tumbao drum sound by using drum samples and playing it on a drum computer. However, when using the drums for this purpose, you should take caution in searching for real drum samples. When you put in some effort you can find some free drum samples on the Internet easily.

On top of the tumbao, the soloist plays on the highest sounding conga his improvised solos. The instrument is used in ceremonies like weddings, baptism and circumcision. Every special event in life has its own rhythm and drum samples. And with any rhythm comes a special dance.

Playing the Conga – Attitude

When you play the conga while seated, put the instrument between your legs and let it tilt slightly so this gives you an opening between your conga and the floor. This way the drum, especially the bass, will sound a lot better! Now, you can press the conga between your legs. There are also people who bind a string and fix it to the conga so the drum will not slide when they play.

Make sure you properly keep your back straight while playing and continue to breathe normally. When you are sitting with a bent back behind your conga, you get back pain quickly and you will not last playing longer than an hour or less.
The same goes for when you are holding your breath while you are playing a complicated piece. You will get cramped and the piece suddenly is much harder to play and the drum sounds will come out weak or badly timed.

In case you play the conga while sitting, it is advised to play while seated on an adjustable chair (drum or piano chair) In case you are playing the conga while standing, there are some special tires available and you of course always make your own. I think the advantage of standing play is that you are freer in your movements and your drum sounds will come out better.

The Sounds of The Conga- The Bass

You hit the middle of the drumhead with an outstretched hand while your thumb is turned a little bit up. Then you pull your hand back quickly. Do not pull your hands back too much because you will need them for the next beat again. The closer you keep your hands on the sheet the easier you can make your next drum sound. The drum sound should be a nice full bass. Hit the bass never too far behind on the drumhead (away from you. After some practice, surely you will be able to make this nice drum sound. For examples on how the bass should sound, you can also have a listen to some real drum samples through an emulator. Just search for free drum samples on the web and it will give you an idea and help you improve your own.

The Open Tone

The drum sound of this tone is pretty open and ’round’. The pitch depends on the tension of the head and the temperature. Hit the drumhead again with stretched out fingers, the palm (where your fingers start) hit the edge of the sheet, your thumb is again a little bit up (It can be painful, when you do not do this, as you will hit your thumb right on the edge… ) To get a beautiful tone beware of the following:
ο No power at your fingertips so it rebounds after hitting the sheet again.
ο Keep your fingers straight and closed, the straighter in line, the better and louder the drum sounds will be.

The Slap

With stretched (not too stretched though) fingers, tap the skin, the palm of your hand (where your fingers start) hits the edge of the drumhead, the thumb is still a little bit upwards. Also at the Slap do not press any power at your fingertips so it rebounds after hitting the drumhead again and this will create a perfect real drum sound.

By following these exact instructions you can create the best free drum samples for your music production.

TeamRadioShack field trip to Amsterdam

Team Radio Shack’s field trip to Amsterdam!

In a weird way percussion drums and weed go together. How often don’t we think of the hippie type, with long dirty hair that holds several flowers, sitting on the ground smoking weed and playing the bongo? Of course we at Team Radio Shack don’t fit that stereotype at all but nonetheless we at Team Radio Shack went for a one-week trip to Amsterdam in January. We were already in contact with some local drummers and had a nice time doing workshops with them. We also took our time to explore Amsterdam and have some really nice diners. One diner really stood out. This was in what the Dutch in Amsterdam call a ‘huiskamerrestaurant’. You can eat food cooked by a superstar chef in a location that resembles your living room.

During the day we were primarily walking and seeing the beautiful city of Amsterdam. And it is absolutely beautiful. The canals and the special houses next to it are a sight to behold. You can walk around for hours and get completely lost at the same time. We also had the good fortune of coming around a time where the Amsterdam Light festival was around. This made the city extra beautiful. This was nice because we had a little bit of bad luck with the weather. In the winter you hope of course to be walking in beautiful snow but it was very rainy. So the beautiful artwork spread all across the city made it a lot better.


Amsterdam is of course a very famous city. It is the biggest city of the Netherlands and because of the weed and prostitution policy it is notorious for tourists from all around the world to come and smoke and engage in ‘other’ activities. You can see their influence especially in the center of Amsterdam and in the nightlife of Amsterdam. Our first night we went out in the touristy center of Amsterdam to a big and expensive nightclub. This was horrible. We encountered a lot of drunk and obnoxious tourists that behaved badly. Tourists from England, Eastern European countries and Russia stood out in bad behavior. The nights after that we first asked our local Dutch friends where the good places where. We had some awesome experiences. For example a small and very cool pool bar and a club that was remote from all other clubs and had a very cool, underground feel to it.

Like I said, one of the coolest things was the private dining Amsterdam cooking experience. In this kind of restaurant you eat in someone’s living room. But it’s not just normal, average food. You eat in an absolutely beautifully designed living room and diner is cooked by one of the best chefs in the Netherlands. This way you get a very special experience. We can guarantee that a trip to Amsterdam when done right is absolutely amazing and besides the bad weather it couldn’t be better. We really want to go back in spring.

Because it was very rainy the week we were in Amsterdam we did had to find a way to spend some time inside. Now I won’t tell who but of course some of us wanted to try some of the possibilities of recreational drug use in Amsterdam. Because of course it is famous for this. We picked a really cool nice shop with a good vibe where we could totally chill and yes we did spend some time there. But of course we also did some high culture stuff. We went to the most famous museum of the Netherlands which was awesome but also did some very funny ones like the Sex museum and the Tattoo museum. Outside we also walked through the red light district which is a very interesting but also kind of sad experience.

How to drum?

Although plastic drumheads exist for the conga, they usually still use natural skins. This is due to the warmer real drum sound that is experienced in natural skins. A rawhide is made from an animal skin (think cow skins or buffalo skins). You can tune the conga by using a metal ring and hooks, with which you can tighten or loosen the drumhead. The tighter the skin, the higher the drum sound of the conga. Congas usually have five or six hooks. Congas are played with the fingers or palm of the hand in sets of two, three or more. Each conga from the set has a different sheet-diameter, creating their own unique drum sound. Sometimes percussionists use the conga in combination with some bongos in their setup. The conga is a very widely applicable instruments and its sounds can be even used as hip hop drum samples.

Indian Tabla (can give a huge boost to your setup)

The tabla is the most common rhythmic guiding instrument in Hindustani music, and its drum samples are also frequently used in modern fusion. The tabla is played with both hands, each hand only plays its own drum. The right hand plays the wooden dayan, the left hand the copper or clay bayan. The battle techniques include a large number of so-called bols, each producing a different sound. Remarkably of a tabla is that the drumhead is unevenly made with a disc of other materials. As with most other drums they attempt to make the drumhead as even as possible.

The function of the tabla in Hindustani music is that of playing the tala, the rhythmic cycle in which a composition is produced, and which needs to stay in place during any improvisation.


A cajón is a hand drum with a drumhead made of wood and is originally from Peru, where the drum sound is used as an accompanying instrument for dances like tondero, the zamacueca, and the Peruvian wals. The cajón came to live through poverty. Wooden boxes of goods arrived by boat into the harbor where the people were living in poverty were enjoying themselves by playing on those boxes, so the originated. You can play the cajon in several ways, so the othe elements of percussion (bass, snare and hi-hat) can be combined. Inside the generally rectangular hollow box are metal strings stretched opposed to the front. This creates the “snare” drum sound of a traditional snare drum. Also, there is often a bunch of bubbles stretched on the inside. Additionally, at the back of the cajón you can find a round hole for the acoustics. A cajón player sits on his instrument and plays it with both hands, and sometimes even with his/her heels.

Each instrument can really contribute its own personality to whatever music you pay. It doesn’t matter whether you are actually playing the instruments to perform or produce music by using free drum samples. Just have fun and enjoy your beats!