First things first

So I’m going to finally push myself to have a go at making some music.

The plan is to learn my way around Ableton and all of the instruments within the programme with the long-term goal of working more with hardware as I think I’d prefer the more tactile play and jamming around rather than being completely in the box.

Obviously there’s plenty of info out there and this is a fairly elementary question but I must admit that with limited previous musical and technical knowledge I can find myself getting a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things to learn and master. Although obviously excited as well as overwhelmed!

Just wondered if anyone had any tips or advice on where best to focus energies first? Any early essentials to learn/master and any short-term to medium-term tasks/goals to set myself to accomplish?


finish what you start! Try and get into arrangement quickly. Steal the arrangement of a track you like in a similar genre, drag it into arrangement view with your track and add markers for events - kick drops out, kick back in, bass comes in… etc. etc.

Personally I like to bounce MIDI to audio pretty quickly, it forces me to make choices and move on. I like to work quickly, get a sample and make it work, rather than endlessly browse a pack.

Push 2 really opens Ableton up. It’s good for adding ‘live’ automation rather than than drawing it in. I find the longer I look at the music on the screen in the DAW, the more that it becomes loops and blocks of colours, rather than hearing it. Push helps with that too.

The Ableton 74 creative strategies for Electronic Music Production book is good for sparking ideas


Thanks JC
Seems sound advice. Appreciated

The Ableton 74 creative strategies book for Electronic Music Production book is good for sparking ideas

I cannot recommend this enough.

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No worries, I’m an amateur producer. The pros will be along soon!

one thing that I found really helped me develop my “skills” was doing covers and homages to stuff I really like. Learning how to make something that rips off something I really like. It means that when I’m mucking around and I stumble upon a groove or melody I like, I can start building on it from a place of relative confidence. You’re never going to make it sound exactly like your inspirations - especially if you’re just starting out - but the distance between your ability and your aspiration is where you find interesting stuff often happens.


I also think it’s good to focus on quantity not quality. Quality comes out of repititon. I’ve experimented by re-making one of my own tracks three or four times from scratch. It ends up similar but also different, but the workflow gets easier

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And you can read it online now too!


I find putting limitations on yourself important. Try making something with just one synthesiser and learn how to create each sound from scratch


Another good tip is read and absorb the Ableton manual. It’s really well written and will introduce you to many production techniques too. I did a chapter a day and then followed that up with searching youtube for videos about said subject.

The Ableton stock plugins are brilliant. Learn and get used to using the EQ eight and the Glue Compressor. Pick one synth and learn it inside out. Wavetable is the probably the best in Ableton and has a great interface with lots of visual feedback.

A lot of youtube production videos are going to be about genres that aren’t relevant to you but all production tips and tutorials are valid and hoover up as much as you can.

This is a great channel to watch:

Like JC mentioned, throw tracks that you love into Ableton and pick them apart. Copy what you love and you’ll start to see how it’s done.

Lastly, it takes years to really learn and get good at production. Don’t be hard on yourself and take your time.

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I did this course online, in the evenings, to learn the basics of ableton. I’d previously tried with books etc but it was hard to follow. the video tutorials and being forced to learn the basics were good in making me do it and foundations to then experiment.

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Thanks all.
Plenty to get my head into.

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When starting out, people always scrap/abandon new ideas waaaay too fast. ‘Work the idea’ for a while. If something is sounding not how you imagined, don’t throw it away- just keep going for a while. fuck it up. chop it to bits then glue it together and fuck it up some more. go down some rabbit holes! save everything.



Limit yourself to few tracks, too, in the beginning. 4 tracks are enough to make a song.


Great idea for a thread as diving into production and learning a new DAW can be overwhelming, especially when you’re doing both at the same time. These are some tips I wish I learned early on:

-Use Ableton’s “Info View” tab in the bottom left corner as much as you can to learn what each parameter is doing. I spent a lot of time blindly throwing effects and onto everything and twisting knobs in the hopes that it would make my tracks sound better, but it almost never worked. Not to dissuade from experimentation, but the better your understanding of how an effect works, the more capably you can apply it. It might work best to get really comfortable with the basics like Reverb, Delay and EQ Eight before trying to incorporate the whole menu of effects into your work.

-My one caveat is that adding a little bit of Saturator (A Bit Warmer preset is great) will make almost anything sound more lively.

-Unless your music is heavily concentrated on original sound design, use Ableton’s instrument presets and pre-made drum kits to start rather than trying to make every sound from scratch.

-In addition to synth presets, try dropping one note samples into Simpler to use as your instruments. This will give you room for creativity with fewer parameters to worry about. Legowelt’s website is an awesome resource for building a sample library.

-Drums usually need some swing or shuffle to sound good. Ableton’s Groove menu is stocked with settings you can apply to your tracks. If you’re trying to dial in your own swing, spend some time programming velocity before moving things off the grid.