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Software Review: Abbey Road Vintage Drummer From Native Instruments

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Abbey Road Vintage Drummer is one of the newest products from Native Instruments. It is an acoustic drum library that features premium drum kits, world famous studio sound, full mixing control, high quality effects, and a really large selection of MIDI grooves that cover a wide variety of popular music genres. It includes everything you need to create professional drum tracks for all kinds of productions.

The drums were recorded at the Abbey Road Studio in London England using some of the rarest drums that replicate the authentic sound from the golden era. These include rare instruments that date back from the 1920s through the 1940s to bring the smooth dynamic sound of early drum kits back to life. They were recorded using a mixture of period equipment as well as state-of-the-art recording chains giving you the ability to blend both the old and the new.




The drums were all recorded at Abbey Road Studios, the world’s first purpose build recording studios. Opened on 12th November 1931, the studio has been at the heart of the UK music industry for more than 80 years and has been the location of countless landmark recordings as well as many pioneering developments in recording technology.

Abbey Road Vintage Drummer is powered by either the free KONTAKT player that comes with the package, or by using the full stand-alone KONTAKT 5 product which also comes with the Native Instruments KOMPLETE 8 packages.

Abbey Road Vintage Drummer is provided as four separate KONTAKT instruments – Ebony full and Ebony lite as well as Ivory full and Ivory lite. Just about every articulation possible was played on each of the drums and cymbals and recorded at up to 25 velocity layers with up to six variations per velocity hit. Up to 15 microphones were used on each kit.



Abbey Road Vintage Drummer was recorded by Mirek Stiles and executively produced by Abbey Road’s Director of Engineering, Peter Cobbin. Drumming duties were performed by Paul Clarvis. Two kits from the 30’s – James Blades kit and 40’s – Slingerland Radio King kit, where chosen for this project. The wood from these kits has matured much like the wood from a classic violin giving it a more seasoned and unique tone.

A variety of snare drums have been used from Black Beauty’s from the 20’s to Leedy Broadway of the 1940’s. A variety of cymbals from the 20’s through the 50’s were used as well as a selection of percussion instruments such as spoons, tambourines, woodblocks, shakers and cowbells were also sampled.

The navigation consists of four main pages –groves, kit, options, and mixer page. The grooves page provides a browser with a large library of organized MIDI groves that can be used to quickly create drum parts for a song or production. You simply select the grove that you want to use. If you want you can sample it by pressing the play button and when you find the one you want, you can edit several of the parameters of the groove, or simply drag it into your host.

There are five genres of groves included in Abbey Road Vintage Drummer – Rock n Roll, Blues Rock, Jazz, Soul, and Psychedelic Rock. Within each genre, you have fills and variations – small changes that range from different hi-hat rates to additions of ghost notes to changes of drums used. The names dictate the types of changes that range from tempo changes to the part of the kit that is used for keeping time of the groove such as the high-hat or ride cymbal. There are also controls that allow you to change the tightness, swing, quantizing, velocity, and temp of the Groove.

The Kit page has a view of the drum kit where you can select each piece of the kit and adjust the tuning, volume envelope, overhead microphone mix, and room microphone mix. You can choose between several snares and you have the ability to load or unload a selected drum.



The Mixer page has the same microphone level and panning controls as a real mixing board, as well as a large selection of effects and routing controls. You can save and load all mixer settings by using the MIXER panel at the upper left of the page. This panel appears on every page of Abbey Road Vintage Drummer, in order to select different mixer page presets while using other parts of the interface. As each kit has a very different sound, these mixer presets can only be used for the kit that they are saved with.

Several new high quality effects are included with the software, specifically tailored for acoustic drum production. These effects are Convolution Reverb, Solid G-EQ, Solid Bus Comp, Tape Saturation, and the Transient Master. Each of these effects can be turned on or off for any of the channels by clicking on the LED next to each effect name at the bottom of the page.

The Options page is where additional “technical” parameters of a kit are adjusted, such as the MIDI note mapping and velocity ranges. There is also a RANDOMIZE section where various sound parameters have random values applied. The VELOCITY area is at the top and it allows you to fine-tune the way Abbey Road Vintage Drummer responds to MIDI input such as curve selection for incoming MIDI note velocities and range controls to change the lowest and highest velocity values.

The MIDI MAPPING area contains all of the controls for changing the mapping layout of the kits. Each articulation can be assigned to one or more MIDI notes. This allows for your own customized mapping. This is very useful for adjusting the mapping to the way that suits you best when playing the drums with a MIDI keyboard, or for adjusting the mapping to a custom electronic drum setup.



I really like the sounds that can be created using Abbey Road Vintage Drummer. What is nice is you can use this package through the interface alone – not recommended especially if you want to create complex beats, using a MIDI keyboard, which works really well, or with the use of a pad system like the your MASCHINEwhich is very highly recommend as it really was built for a kit like this.

As with all of the Native Instruments, Abbey Road Vintage Drummer is a lot of fun to play with and very easy to learn and work with. If you are using the grooves, you can create a lot of great beats that can be integrated into your work. By using the kits, you can create your own sounds. By integrating both, you really have a lot of power to work with. I you are looking to recreate that vintage old drum sound, I very highly recommend Abbey Road Vintage Drummer.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.