LMMS Tutorial for Beginner – Free FL Studio Alternative

LMMS Tutorial for Beginner – Free FL Studio Alternative

August 22, 2019 4 By Kailee Schamberger


if you’re looking for a free FL studio
alternative LMMS might be the free DAW for you in this video i’m going to do an
lmms review and a quick tutorial and we’ll find out if this is a decent free
FL studio alternative and if you have no idea what FL studio is or you’ve
never used it before you should still check out this video as it’s a great
piece of music making software that will easily get you started in beat creating
and music production welcome to simple green tech I’m Radio
zane and on this channel i do audio tech tips tutorials and reviews to help you
unleash your creativity now FL studio is a great daw in fact it was the first
digital audio workstation that I purchased quite a few years ago but I
can appreciate that it might be a little expensive for some users who are just
starting out and you might be looking for a free FL Studio alternative to get
you started in beat making and making music lmms is the closest free digital
audio workstation that really compares to FL Studio and once you get used to
the user interface you’re going to find out that it’s quite easy to start making
beats and creating music in lmms one of the biggest and only negatives that I
have to say about lmms is that you can’t record audio into it directly you have
to record audio in a separate program like maybe audacity or some other audio
recording program however I know that when I’m using FL Studio or now lmms I’m
not using it for its audio recording anyway I’m actually going to be using it
because of how easy it is to start making beats and start making music
inside the box meaning using virtual instruments and really that’s the only
negative here with lmms and I’m sure as it continues to evolve they’re probably
going to be adding audio recording into it eventually I know in the early days
of FL Studio it wasn’t the greatest at audio recording which is one of the
reasons why I moved on to other DAWs when you first open lmms it will look
similar to this you have a couple of tracks already populated you can see
they even have an instrument that has an orange slice on it
similar to FL Studio’s citrus plugin I like to remove all these tracks and just
start new okay so we now have this empty project what do we do
well lmms does include some of their own instruments and you can mess around with
those if you like you just click over here on this icon and you’ll see a list
of instruments now you can just drag and drop an instrument over into the song
editor area and then you just click here to see the interface for that instrument
now you can change any of the settings that you want in here personally I
prefer to use third-party VST instruments and to do this you first
want to make sure that lmms has your default VST plug-in folder set up
correctly so let’s first go up to edit then go into settings and then you want
to click on the folder icon right here and then you look for where it says VST
plug-in directory you want to make sure that this is your default VST plug-in
folder and for me this was set up by default and that is my default VST
plug-in folder for 64-bit plugins if you’re using the 32-bit version it
should have your 32-bit plug-in folder there just make sure this is the right
one that you use this folder is typically where 64-bit plugins will
install to so you may not have to change anything here if you do have to change
anything you would just click on this folder here and then you would find
wherever your folder is then click OK to get out of there if you don’t have any
third-party VST plugins already you can download free ones from all over the
Internet one of my trusted sites that I use is pluginboutique.com they have a
decent selection of free plugins and they often have great deals on premium
plugins I’m going to link to them in the description below just in case you want
to check them out and start building your VST plug-in library and now that
you have your VST folder set you can now bring in a VST instrument to get started
with making our music I’m going to bring in a synth plug-in first and what you
want to do to add a VST plug-in to your song editor is click on the instrument
icon again here and then you want to go down to the stege and drag that in then
click here to open the user interface and right here where it says no VST
plug-in loaded click on the folder icon and this should bring up that default
VST plug-in folder that you set earlier if it doesn’t you can also search for
the folder the same way you would search for the folder in Windows Explorer
now find the plugin that you want to use and double click on it I’m going to use
Kontakt player here this is a free plugin from Native Instruments that you
can download and you can see after I double clicked on it the user interface
for that plug-in has popped up and if you have a MIDI keyboard and you want to
get it to work you can just click on this gear icon here go down to MIDI
click input you can click on your MIDI keyboard here and that should enable it
if you don’t see your MIDI keyboard there you may have to download this
software from coolsoft it’s called midi mapper and that’s going
to set your midi keyboard as the default for Windows so then programs like LMMS
will know to use your keyboard this is a free piece of software I’ll link to it
below so you can download it if you need to and if you don’t have a MIDI keyboard
don’t worry about that you can actually use your computer keyboard keys to play
notes just the same way you can do that in FL Studio and personally this is a
feature of FL Studio that I really enjoy when I’m on my laptop and I don’t have
my MIDI keyboard connected it can help you to quickly find a synth sound and
get started with creating music and of course if you don’t want to do that and
you don’t want to use a MIDI keyboard you can choose to draw your notes in and
to draw your notes or to record MIDI notes you have to open the piano roll
and to do that we’ll just double click right here and here’s our piano roll
this is where you’ll start to develop your songs so let’s first go over some
of the controls quickly that you’re going to see here and the first controls
are your transport ones so this will play
this will record notes from the MIDI keyboard or your computer keyboard
without playing anything back from the song editor timeline so you’re just
going to be recording into the piano roll without hearing anything played
back now if you want to hear all the other tracks play back if you have other
tracks you would use this record button right here and this will play back
everything in the timeline plus record your MIDI keyboard then of course we
have our pencil tool where we can draw notes in and drag them around
you have your erase tool and with this you can click to erase or if you don’t
want to use that you can actually just with the pencil tool selected you could
right-click on a note and that’s going to get rid of it then over here we have
our selection tool and this can select a large group of notes so you can move
them all around together or delete them all together whatever it is you want to
do and again you don’t need to click on this tool to use it with the pencil tool
clicked you can actually hold down ctrl on your computer keyboard then click and
drag and you have your selection tool beside that there is also this detune
mode and if you click on this icon then you click on a note this will allow you
to adjust frequencies of an individual note this may not work for all types of
instruments though but you can try it out if you want to do this sort of thing
beside that you have your quantize button here so by default it’s set to
1/16 and that’s where you’re going to quantize to now you can change that to
anything you want here you can have it sent to the half note so if we change it
then press the Q it’s going to go to the closest half note and beside that you
have your cut copy and paste and then right here you have your enable and
disable auto scrolling so if you’re recording long it’s going to
automatically scroll you can turn that off if you want
then right here this controls what happens after you’ve stopped playing or
stopped recording could have it set to go back to the beginning of the clip
once you stopped playing or you could have it set to go to wherever you
started playing from after you stop or you can have the cursor stay at wherever
you stopped it on the next row here you have your zoom control this controls how
zoomed in you are on the notes then you have the quantize controls that
we looked at earlier and after that is the tool that controls how the draw mode
works if you have it set to last note then it’s going to draw the same as the
last note that you either drew or that you clicked on you can also set it to
one of the presets here I like to leave it on last note and you can choose the
scale of your song if you like also if you want to draw in chords automatically
you can choose a chord here so let’s just choose a major chord and then we’ll
draw it in here you can see it drew in a chord automatically and you can change
that however you want I’m just going to delete everything here and now I’m going
to draw in a quick beat all right so now we can add some drums
to our song and we’re going to do the same thing that we did before we’re
going to click on the instrument plugins icon here then we’re going to drag and
drop the Vestige instrument into the song editor click in there and click on
the folder here this time I’m going to add the free drum plugin called beat
factory drums and you can grab this free plug-in from plug-in boutique I’ve
linked to plug-in boutique in the description below so you can check that
out if you like now we’ll open up the piano roll but this time I want to
record my beat using my MIDI keyboard so what you’ll want to do is click on the
gear icon go to MIDI input and make sure it’s set for your MIDI keyboard and what
you can do is actually hold the ctrl button down on the clip and drag to
create a duplicate of it and you can do this several times if you like I’m going
to do that to create a bit longer of a pattern here so I have something to
record over and you’ll want to make sure that they’re moved over by one bar so
you get one bar counted in before you actually have to start recording so make
sure your metronome is clicked on so you have that nice click track and don’t
worry about having this moved over one bar you can always move everything back
later on I’m now ready to start recording so let’s go into the piano
roll and I want to use this record button so I can hear the clip that I
played before while I’m recording so let’s press that now all right and there we have a little bit
of a drumbeat and I’m just going to quantize it to the quarter note now
let’s listen to what that sounds like and that’s a fairly basic beat if I
wanted I can actually add some hi-hat to that I could either choose to draw it in
here or I could actually record over top of everything and add the hi hats in
that way so let’s try that so now our basic drum beat is a little
bit more of a actual drum beat you could still add more in there and mess around
with it and that brings me to the next thing I want to show you which is down
in this section of the piano roll here it’s the note velocity and if it doesn’t
say note velocity here it could say note panning you just want to click right
there and change it to note velocity and what this does is it allows you to
change how hard or how soft each note is and this can help to bring a more human
feel to your beat or to your playing and now we have our synth line and we have
our beat and we can actually loop these over and over again by holding down ctrl
dragging or you can right-click copy and then
right click over here paste and you can do that as much as you want
and you can even add your next section in which has a little bit of different
MIDI information and to add another MIDI clip onto the same track you would just
double click into an open spot here it’s going to create a new piano roll and you
can either draw in your notes or play them in on your MIDI keyboard or on your
computer keyboard and you can choose to arrange everything around however you
want in the timeline here so now that we have our beat we might want to edit
things up a little bit by adding some effects or maybe using the mixer to
adjust the levels so let’s click right here on the mixer icon to bring up the
mixer view and you can see we have a master fader already loaded in there but
no other mixer channels are loaded so we’re going to have to add two more in
for our two instruments so we’ll just press plus and plus now we have two more
and to route our instrument to each of these we’ll just click here to bring up
the interface and then where it says effects here you want to click then drag
up until it says 1 so this is going to be on one and then this one we’re going
to click drag up and now it’s on 2 so let’s bring up the mixer again now when
we play back you can see that there’s some levels in the mixer and we can
adjust those however we want you can also rename the channels if you
want you just double-click right here and we’re going to name this bass then
we’ll name this one drums now we can add effects to the effects chain just click
there to enable it and then down here you want to click on add effect and lmms
actually comes with quite a few you can see them these ladspa ones and you’ll
also see some others that say lmms so you might have some here already even if
you didn’t have any loaded before but of course you can also access all of your
VST effects here that you might have loaded on your computer as well so I’ll
load up an effect here now let’s hear how that sounds you click the controls
button here to bring out the user interface for each effect and you can
adjust the effect however you want and if you don’t like an effect that you’ve
added just right-click on this area here and click on remove this plug-in so now
let’s say that our song is finished and we just want to render it down to an
audio file so we can post it online or maybe send it to our friends or whatever
it is that we want to do with it all we have to do is go up to file and then you
want to click on export not export tracks what that will do is export each
track individually into audio files and that can be useful if you’re going to be
bringing this into another program for editing or sending individual
instrument’s audio to somebody so they can edit it or use it for something else
but what we’re going to be doing is just clicking on export
and then you would just give it a name here and you can also choose what file
type you want to save it as you have wav compressed OGG or compressed mp3 I’m gonna click on mp3 normally I would save as WAV I’m just going to click on mp3 to show you some
of the settings after you click Save you can edit some of the settings here
and choose your different bitrate for your mp3 and you can also change this
back to wav if you decided you didn’t want to go with mp3 you can change your
sample rate and the bit-depth if you want once you’re ready you would just
click start you should now have your song in an audio form once it’s done
rendering now we’ve been comparing lmms to FL studio which it’s very similar to
but I’m going to take this one step further and actually make it look like
FL studio there is an FL studio theme that was created by an lmms user named
h4ckton3 I think I’m pronouncing it correctly he spells it a little bit
different but I think it’s supposed to be hack tone so if you go on to the lmms
forum you can actually find a link to this
then unzip it then copy the whole folder into Program
Files lmms data themes you just want to copy that whole folder into there once
it’s in there go back into lmms go to edit settings click on the folder icon
here then scroll down to where it says themes directory you want to click on
the icon right here and change the theme to image line fruityloops select this
folder click OK and it’s going to tell us to restart it so let’s do that now
if you look at it now some of the icons look very similar to FL Studios icons I
know the hack tone guy says that he’s working to make it look even closer to
FL Studio so keep watching for updates to this if that’s something you want to
do if you want to go back to the other theme that we had you would just click
on the folder scroll down to the themes directory click on the icon there and
change it to default click ok restart lmms and it’s back to the way it was
before honestly lmms is a great piece of
software in my opinion for anyone that wants to start making music or creating
beats in a similar workflow to FL Studio but
you don’t quite have the money to invest in FL Studio yet don’t get me wrong
FL Studio is a great program and it has some more advanced features than this
program has but if you’re just starting out you’re likely not going to use those
advanced features or need them anyway plus I have a feeling that the more lmms
continues to grow the more features it’s going to add and the closer it’s going
to get at being the perfect FL Studio alternative let me know in the comments
below if you use lmms and what you think of it and if you have any questions
about this software please ask in the comments below I may do some more
tutorials on this software if there is a demand for it now click this video up
here for my three favorite free VST instrument plugins or click this one
down here see what YouTube recommends you watch next thank you so much for
watching if you like this video please give it a thumbs up also subscribe to
the channel if you’d like to see more videos from me for simple green tech I’m
Radio zane and we’ll talk soon