How to add drums to your tabs in GP5 or Tuxguitar

NOTE: If you use Power Tab, read this tutorial instead.

Are you making tabs that include every part but the drums? Well, adding drums to your tab isn't too hard--you just have to make a percussion track, and know a few magic numbers.

First, make the track. In Guitar Pro, select Track > Add... from the drop-down menu, and select Percussion for the type. Click okay at the next screen, and close the next window. If you're using Tuxguitar, create a new track with Track > Add Track, double-click the track name, and check the Percussion Track check box. Click okay.

Now that you have a percussion track, you can use any drum in GM ("General MIDI"). For a complete list of these, look at the GM Level 1 Percussion Key Map. Just enter the number from the chart as a fret number, like this:

In this example, I used drums 36 and 38, which are the basic kick and snare drums. If you aren't familiar with drums, this is the time to learn what each drum sounds like. Don't worry! You only need to learn a few for most songs, and I'll be listing the most important drums below.

Now, if you look at the GM chart, you'll notice the presence of multiple kicks, multiple snares, and so forth. Each of these sounds a little bit different! So it's up to you which ones you want to use. Let's add another measure, just like the above, but using 35 and 40 (the alternate kick and snare). It looks like this:

If you enter in these notes, and play through it, you'll hear the difference between measures one and two. What sounds best? Well, that depends on the song, and you'll have to decide. Personally, I use 36 and 40 for my kick and snare in most songs.

Notice how I put the kick and snare on separate "strings". This is very important! It can be quite confusing if you put different drums together on the same string. You may run out of strings if you use too many drums, so it's not a hard-and-fast rule, but try to give one string to kick, snare, hihat, cymbals, and two to toms as a starting point.

If you're using Guitar Pro, you can speed up entering drums a little by using the "C" key--try it! It copies whatever note(s) are under the cursor, and pastes them at the end of the measure. Drums repeat a lot! You can enter in a basic pattern, and copy-and-paste entire measures or sections (with ctrl-C and ctrl-V), and then edit whichever measures differ from the pattern. If you're using Tuxguitar, make sure you uncheck the box marked "All Tracks" when you copy+paste drums, or you'll copy+paste over your other instruments, too!

Now, here is my quick reference for MIDI drums. Remember, there are more drums than these available, and you can check the GM chart linked above if you need them!

GM Drums Quick Reference:

Name Fret number Alternate Other information
Kick 36 35 Also called a "bass drum"
Snare 40 38 Side-stick is 37
Toms 47-45-43   The full set is 50-48-47-45-43-41. 43 and 41 are floor toms.
Ride cymbal 51 59  
Hi-hat 42 (closed) 46 (open) 44 (pedal hihat, stepping on the pedal rather than striking with a stick)
Crash cymbal 49 57  

You may also find the tambourine (54), splash cymbal (55), or hand clap (39) useful, to single out a few more sounds.

Finally, some percussion instruments are treated like regular MIDI instruments, rather than GM percussion. Those instruments can be found in the Percussion section of Guitar Pro, and toward the end of the instrument list in Tuxguitar. In addition to those, Timpani is under the "Strings and Timpani" section. If you want to use those, they'll need a separate instrument.

Now you should be able to add whatever drums you want! Don't forget to add accents where appropriate! You may also want to make hihats and cymbals a little quieter than the kick and snare, if they stand out a bit too much. Have fun, and feel free to post any questions you have!

8 comments on How to add drums to your tabs in GP5 or Tuxguitar

thank you ^^

thank you ^^

You know what. I've worked

You know what. I've worked with these numbers quite many times. Probably so much that I could program a drum track in my sleep. :D

Wow, nice! I was looking for

Wow, nice! I was looking for those lately :]

Man, i have to thank you! I

Man, i have to thank you! I really didnt know about the ''C'' key and those useful tips you told.
Really easy to make drums, its just about catching it.
Good job!

I also want to note that if

I also want to note that if you're into recording music, this is a viable option to programming drums. It's what I did on my bands new cd and I haven't noticed a single person to be able to tell that it's programmed.

first, program drums realistically in GP4-5 and then export the midi. Import the midi on a channel with superior drummer/ez drummer and you're set. Just play with the mix a bit and eq to your liking. try to eq out the rediculous spiking that the samples have, compress and go. :)

Very good tutorial! Thanks a

Very good tutorial! Thanks a lot!
Can I translate it to portuguese and post on my blog?

I've posted several of your recordings there. I love the versions that you create!

Thanks, and go for it :-)

Thanks, and go for it :-)

Wow! That's awesome. I had

Wow! That's awesome. I had no idea you could do that. I've been handwriting drum parts for the cover band I play in, which wouldn't be such a huge deal if I was actually a drummer, haha! We just switched to live drums from a beat making software I had been using. Definitely adds depth to the sound, but it was a bear having to tab all those classic rock songs. This is definitely going to save me some time. Thanks for post and the detailed steps.