How to create Ableton Drum Racks with Scrollable Pad Banks

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One of the biggest time wasters we deal with as producers is sifting through folder after folder of one shot sounds each time we start a song. Luckily, if you're a Live user, with some quick configuration you can make a drum rack that let's you scroll through your sounds quickly with an encoder on a midi controller.

In Live's Browser, highlight a few sounds of the same type. We're using kicks in the example below. Command + Drag them on to a cell in a drum rack. This creates an instrument rack on the cell with each kick sample on a different chain:

Click on the "Chain" box to reveal the chain view. Select all chains and drag them out over a range that's equal to or larger than the amount of samples you have. In other words, if you have 8 drums, drag the range over to at least 8.


Right Click and select "Distribute Ranges Equally":


You should now see something like this. The orange indicator hovered over the "0" is the Chain Selector Ruler. Whatever chain, or in this case whatever drum sound it hovers over gets played back when we strike that pad.  If you move the selector over a different sample, it'll play a that new sample when you strike the pad:



In order to make this rack scrollable, we can assign a macro to the orange Chain Selector Ruler. Right Click it, and select Map to Macro 1. This macro knob can now scroll through the different samples in the rack. Rename it to "Kick Select" using CMD + R:



One last thing to do is tocustomize the range of the macro knob. By default, a macro will scroll from the values 0-127. But your kit you may only have 8 drums or so, like we do here. If this is the case, click the "Map" button on top of the instrument rack. This will open the Macro Mappings section on the left of your screen. Under "Kick Select" change the Min - Max values from 0-127 to 0-7 if you have 8 Drums. (Sample 1 = Macro value 0, Sample 2 = Macro Value 1...Sample 8 = Macro Value 7).

If you don't take this extra step, you'll have a bunch of extra scroll space on your controller that doesn't get used since the Chain Selector will attempt to access too far down the list of samples.



You can repeat this process on the other cells in your Drum Rack for a full kit of scrollable sounds from your library. Save the whole thing in a Default Set and you're ready to go at the start of every session. 

For Ableton Live Packs fully organized and ready to use, click here.


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1 Comment

  • Thanks for the article. I’ve been wondering how to make Scrollable Pad Banks this whole time.

    Gema on

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