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How to create drum backing tracks for guitar the easy way

If you want to know how to create drum tracks in the easiest possible way to play your guitar along with, or if you don't like following a metronome and would prefer drums instead, this is how to do it. You might even have the equipment you need already right now to do it.

In the little video above, there are drums present. I didn't play them. They come from my keyboard, a Casio CTK-6200. That synthesizer makes it stupidly easy to pick a drum style, go to the accompaniment section and just have at it. It's literally as easy as pressing 3 buttons. Intro, normal rhythm, end...

...and that's the secret to getting drum tracks in the easiest possible way. Use a "portable keyboard."

My adventures with creating drum tracks

Over the years, this is what I've learned about creating drum tracks:

The #1 problem with drum machines is that they all shove way too many features in, making the machine unnecessarily difficult to use. It doesn't matter if it's digital hardware or virtual drumming software. Creating a usable drum track should be stupidly easy, but it's anything but that.

All I want to do is set the tempo, get a basic drum beat going, record that into the multitrack session (such as Audacity seen in the video above,) then use other tracks to lay down my guitars, bass and so on. But wow, do drum machines make that difficult to do...

...but with a portable keyboard it's dirt simple. Set a tempo, pick a beat, press the play button, and you're ready to go. That's how it should be when just trying to get a simple drum track to play along with.

Are portable keyboards easier than drum machines or virtual drums?

Yes, absolutely. The sound samples are good and the ease-of-use is there.

Before showing some decent portable keyboards that are available...

Most people have a portable keyboard lying around the house somewhere. Or if you don't, you probably know someone that does. Whatever that keyboard is, as long as it has full size keys and a way to output audio to whatever you record audio with, go get it.

Or heck, even if it doesn't have a traditional 1/4-inch output, it's guaranteed to have a headphone jack. If that's what you end up with, buy yourself a 1/8" stereo to dual 1/4" cable, a.k.a. Y cable. The small 1/8" goes into the keyboard, and the 1/4" ends are the left and right channels that go into whatever mixer you use.

Even if it's an older keyboard you end up with, you'll probably find at least 3 drum beats in it that are good enough for backing drum tracks that you can record to follow along with your guitar later.

What's available new?

There are several good choices out there, but I personally recommend going cheap and sticking with brands that know how to do a low-cost portable keyboard right. And those brands are Alesis, Casio and Yamaha.

If you go Korg or Roland, you're going to spend a lot of cash. They both make great stuff, but again, it will cost you.

However, these choices won't hit your wallet hard at all and will get you those easy-to-use drum kits:

One more small note on the video above: I did absolutely no editing for the drum track. What you hear there is a 100% stock Casio CTK-6200 rhythm preset. The only thing I did was slow it down to my desired tempo, adjusted the record volume, recorded it (it's the first track,) then laid down some guitars and bass direct from my Line 6 Spider V 60. That was it. Nice and simple.

And yes, you can do it too. If drum machines be it hardware or software have frustrated you to no end and you want easy, get a portable keyboard and create backing drums that way. That's as easy as it gets.

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