Learn how to program a synth in 7 easy steps

The real power of a synthesizer is its ability to craft and control the sound, allowing musicians to create their own custom tones. Synthesizers can seem overwhelming at first, but most have similar controls and follow the same signal flow. This allows synth knowledge to be transferred between instruments. Below are seven tutorials that will help you get a start on creating your own synthesized sounds. They are demonstrated on the SYSTEM-1, but they apply to most subtractive synthesizers.

1. Acid Break

The TB-303 is responsible for the sound of acid house. The ideal synth to recreate that sound is the TB-3 or TB-03, but a similar type of sound can be created on other synths. Watch this video to learn how to use the correct filter settings to make an acid bass.

2. Strings

Violins and bowed string instruments make a wave shape that is very close to a saw. Start with that, and make the envelope changes described in this video to create your own string pad.

3. FM Bell

Frequency modulation (FM) synthesis is an advanced synthesis method. Some subtractive synthesizers offer a basic cross modulation option that can create FM sounds. Others, like the SYSTEM-1, offer more FM options that allow for complex sound.

4. Funky Bass Synth

Subtractive synthesizers are excellent for funky bass lines. Learn how to craft your own unique sound and tweak it for subtle variations.

5. Kick and Toms

Producers are always searching for the perfect kick sample. Stop searching and start creating your own. This tutorial will show you how to craft a custom kick sound and how to adjust it to use it as toms.

6. Hi-Hat

While never as accurate as a sample, a synthesized hi-hat can add a desired retro feel to a track. This is a very simple sound to create on any synth that has a noise source and high-pass filter.

7. Snare

A snare is an instrument that can take a while to get just right. Speed things up by learning to craft your own snare that fits perfectly in your mix.