How often do you use your own sample libraries / samples ?


Hey there !
I was just wondering is recording stuff for use it in your own music, is something common here. :)
Do you think it's important? Do you enjoy using your own material for creating music? :) If you don't, so why? Lack of time? :)

Thanks ! :)


Active Member
A fair amount of members of this forum record their private libraries, some have been participating in recording 70-dynamic-layer (!) libraries for A-list figures such as Junkie XL, others are developers, some have even begun to develop here (Waverunner), others posted freebies before going commercial (Jasper Blunk). You may be interested by this topic.
I do so, but very rarely. The main reasons are:

1) my space is not acoustically very flattering for recorded instruments.
2) the main acoustic instruments I use are acoustic guitar and Irish whistles, and in both cases I always opt for playing those parts live rather than creating and using samples.

Two examples where I did use my own samples:

1) I have a fairly nice bodhran, but I'm not very good at playing it (lack of time to practice, darn it). As I have never yet found a sampled bodhran that I like at all, I made my own, fairly deeply sampled library with my bodhran (velocity layers, round robins, etc), despite my flawed acoustic space, and used it on a particular piece, as it was the best option I had.
2) I used a combination of some recorded static and some "bleeps" I made with one of my soft synths to create a "radio transmission" sample set that I used extensively on my most recent project. While I could have used the source audio files and synths directly, it was just easier to build up samples of the combined effects (including release samples) and then play them from Kontakt with one finger.


protect your ears!
I guess the main difference is when your using your own samples or something you recorded, then you know them really well....But, and maybe unfortunately, for most of us it is just much easier and less time consuming to get one from a developer, then tweak and re sample if you can.

^Unless they don't have what you want? I am placing bets on this 'octobass' thing from another thread! That thing is crazy, sounds like a lawnmower from outside the house.


Senior Member
I don't do lots of audio recording so there isn't a lot coming along to sample. I have a few own samples I use regularly, mostly synths with efx (Eventide pads) and a lot of resampled commercial libraries (for easy use, CPU saving, or stacked stuff). Also some claps, stomps, kitchen percussion, tools, a banjo, wine glasses etc which I use from time to time.


Senior Member
I use my own sampled instruments all the time, but I have no choice; the particular brands/models of instruments I sample aren't found anywhere else in the world.

Rodney Money

On V.I. avoiding work.
I am using my own "samples" or more like "sounds" in my current project now, but I would never release them, because they would not be of any use to anyone but me. Plus, I don't even know how to make a real sample instrument.


Luke Johnson
I haven't yet made a sample library (but am planning on it) but I always record something live on everything I ever write. Whether that's Guitar, vocals, percussion, or even a Drum stick hitting a door/table in time.


I haven't recorded any of my own samples, but I do exclusively use my own sample library which I built from what I felt were the best instruments from other sample libraries.

Living Fossil

Senior Member
i made a good habit of making my own sample sets. In my experience the fact that you put yourself in the position of the one deciding what you're going to sample and how you are doing it transforms the pure technical aspect of sampling into a part of composing...
Further, it's a good tool to go through life with open ears. Sometimes a sound catches my interest and by sampling it i can add it to my creative toolbox.
And therefore very often my own samples allow me a more personal statement...

Two things that I've observed: 1) when doing my samples i don't care about an objective "usability". I tailor them according to my private needs. Usually they have some big advantages for some situations (those that i'm interested in) and also some downsides (which i usually fix as soon as they bother me).
And 2) i have to say that EXS24 really makes it easy to get quick and good results.


Luke Johnson
Why not just record straight to audio, though? I mean if you have the instrument in the studio...
Yeah I agree. The only prohibitive time is when volume levels disturb others (usually in home setups) and you can't actually record anything. I remember watching a Blake Robinson composition Video not so long ago and he was doing a lot of his writing with his private version of the Blakus Cello just because he couldn't get the real thing out at the time. Obviously I'm referring to him using headphones etc.


my office these days
a hundred years ago (give or take) I purchased my first sampler, a Mirage Rack, and I sampled everything that made noise - my dog (how cliche), tin ash trays I thought sounded cool, wine glasses, cutlery, dog food dumped into a metal dish, you name it - anything withing microphone cable length of the rack! And I could drag lots of stuff into my makeshift studio!

A few years later I purchased an EPS (what we'd now call the Classic). And I had access to a nice portable recorder, so now I started recording everything that made noise - cars (from inside and out), peepers, loons, song birds, rain storms, bees, again the sky was the limit. Oddly enough, the EPS was a lot easier to use, but it also kind of begged for a little more attention to detail. It was a wash, more or less. I also started recording musical instruments for use as samples, my electric bass, every hand percussion toy I owned or could borrow, and a friends drum kit. These were much more difficult to make into usable instruments.

Next up was an Akai S1000 - forget it. I lost interest in creating libraries, and went back to recording just for sound effects.

Then came computers, and the commercial libraries were so far beyond anything I could do myself that I was at first discouraged. But the tools to create sample instruments were also far more sophisticated. So I've taken a couple shots at Kontakt instruments. But its a lot of work, the results are certainly better than anything I could dream of when I bought the Mirage, but did I mention its a lot of work? Especially for instruments I can play.

So for now I've decided that my studio time is better spent improving my composition and orchestration/arranging chops, and my production chops.

But one day I would like to take another shot at creating a library.


Active Member
I've made a few small samples for Kontakt but I'm better off focusing on making music, and what draws me to commercial sample libraries is the opportunity to make music with a nearly limitless array of great sounding instruments that I will never own or be able to play. However, I do have a rare 1924 Gibson RB Junior banjo that I'm thinking of sampling. The few banjo libraries that are out there tend to focus on Scruggs style fingerpicking samples made with bluegrass banjos that have big metal tone rings and resonator backs. This one has an open back and is great for more muted clawhammer style playing.


Senior Member
I create a custom sample library for pretty much every project. I start by mocking up a few of the most important cues - and by mocking up I mean just get a tempo + meter map and a basic idea of the key, not an "orchestral mockup" as many people do. When I've got a few of these "skeletons" ready, I spend about a quarter of the time allotted for the gig just creating new sounds and recording them into the skeletons of the cues.

The sounds I'm talking about are created by using guitars with e-bows and the Roland VG-99 guitar synth and 50 or so guitar pedals, or with my modular synth (often also running through pedals etc.), a ghuzeng, some ukuleles and similar half-assed acoustic instruments, a large collection of drums, roto-toms, and scrap metal percussion recorded in a large concrete and glass area at my house (the wife loves this... not!), or some of my "sculptural" metal instruments played with bows, super balls, etc.

I always use loop-record mode, so for a three minute cue I might record ten or more passes with a given sound before I feel like I've exhausted it and want to take a break. Then, before editing anything, I'll just move through all of the cue skeletons, recording anything that's applicable with the sound I've currently got running. Once I've made it through all of the skeletons, I can take a break, fiddle for a while to get a new sound going, and then start the process all over again.

After a few days of this, I've got a pile of un-edited audio recorded into the skeletons - and it's time to start editing. I'll try to reduce each recording into two piles - Pile A is the stuff that will actually get used in the cue it's been recorded into, and Pile B is the stuff that won't fit in that cue, but is too good not to use somewhere else.

As you can imagine - it's easy to generate a LOT of raw material. So I take Pile A and Pile B, maybe add some effects and polishing, and then output each piece of audio as an individual wav file, carefully named and sorted into folders. Then I can delete Pile B while leaving Pile A in place to be mixed inside the cue as audio tracks. But both Piles get their wav files dumped into the same folder and turned into sampler instruments for Logic's EXS24 sampler. I use both Piles because I might want a sound that featured in one cue to appear in another, and if I only had output Pile B then I'd have to go digging in the first cue to find the bit of audio I want. When every single nugget that doesn't suck is in my EXS instrument, then when I'm working on later cues I can find the nuggets from earlier cues.

When I've recorded the same sound across multiple cues, I output each cue's Piles into separate sub-folders, and if there's lots of material I might have an EXS instrument (or multiple instruments) that contains the results from each cue - but sometimes it all reduces down into a "menu-style" instrument with one sample per key and it all fits in a single instrument.

For drums, percussion, rhythmic stuff, modular sequencer pulses, etc. I don't build instruments for the sampler - for these I just export wav files of exactly 2, 4, 8, or 16 bars and carefully name them so they can be used in other cues via Ableton Live. These files get names like "SAW4-132-Grinder Pulse-A#", or sometimes "SAW4-3m21-132-Grinder Pulse-A#", showing the project name, optionally the cue within the project, the tempo, a descriptive term, and the key (if it's a pitched item). This lets me re-use the material from one cue in another cue without wondering what the original tempo or key was, etc.

I don't try to sample conventional orchestral instruments, or any "normal" stuff that anybody can just buy from some website - I only make the kind of sounds that are applicable to my music, and which I wouldn't turn loose on the general public. Secret weapons, if you will.

As I said, I spend at least a quarter of the time allotted for a gig just making this new material, and getting it all edited, outputted, and ready to play in the form of EXS instruments or folders full of tasty wav files. Once that's done, the process of actually doing the music is easy, simple, and actually fun... and that next phase of the process goes so much faster when I'm armed with a bunch of fresh new raw material to deploy.

For me, just staring at a computer full of commercially-available sample libraries is.... not exciting. But then again, I don't write orchestral music, preferring instead to focus on sounds that are unique and interesting to me, and hopefully to the audience as well. So my approach doesn't apply across the board to lots of other composer's approaches. But it's fun for me. Otherwise, this might all seem like actual work (shudder).


Senior Member
I should add that some material becomes "menu-style" sampler instruments, where each key has a single interesting sound, like scary bowed guitar noises or whatever, and for these I try to tune them all to the same pitch if possible. Then I can adjust the global instrument pitch if I need to shift it a couple of semitones up or down, or even use pitch bend to access different pitches - but what I usually wind up doing for these instruments is to just put three or four instances on adjacent tracks and use the instrument pitch to adjust them to the correct note, and do it like that.

Some other material wants to be played chromatically across the keyboard, so I might have each sample covering one, two, or three octaves - or just spanning the entire keyboard. I like things pitched way down, so if there's a chance that the source sample will sound good played four octaves down, I just give it the whole 88. For these situations I do my best to put them in tune with A440.

The type of material I generate rarely gets turned into elaborate instruments with velocity splits, multisamples, and round-robins - it's mostly the above two situations that I wind up using.


Senior Member
Why not just record straight to audio, though? I mean if you have the instrument in the studio...
Because I look at sampling as a simple, easily accessible form of transhumanism. I can be more precise and controlled when I program myself as samples.


Senior Member
Why not just record straight to audio, though? I mean if you have the instrument in the studio...
Well, that's what I do - but inevitably I wind up recording eight times as much material as I actually need for a given cue. When you're in loop record mode, trying to zero in on a sound or performance, it's easy to generate tons of good material that's too good to throw away, but might not be right for the cue you're working on. But if you turn all that stuff into sampler instruments and stash them away for later, then you can populate other cues with those nuggets more easily than trying to re-capture the magic from four days ago once you finally get to working on those last few cues.


Active Member
then you can populate other cues with those nuggets more easily than trying to re-capture the magic from four days ago once you finally get to working on those last few cues.
It's actually a very good point, because it compensates for the sampling time. Do you have a kind of criterion to decide upfront if you sample or just record straight away or do you actually sample systematically?