Dr. Dre is notorious for making classic rap records with an incredibly addictive piano hook. And with that piano hook comes a distinctive sound thats instantly recognizable known as Dr. Dre pianos… or it least we call it that. In the following tutorial we’ll show you how to achieve the classic west coast piano sound cooked up by a rap music pioneer.  

Step 1

dr-dre-piano

Record a crazy piano hook.

Step 2

dr-dre-offset-piano-notes

The piano recorded in Step 1 sounds robotic. Dre was famous for creating a cool feeling to his keys. With every chord he played, it was as though he turned each chord stab into a quick arpeggiated pattern. To get this effect. We simply offset our notes manually (unless you got crazy keyboard skills). Our root note will be locked to the grid. Notice how our second and third note offset each other.

Step 3

dr-dre-piano-eq

Dr. Dre’s piano was famous for being super bright. To brighten up our pianos we apply an EQ. To brighten up our keys we take out some of the low end. Cut around 500hz to remove any muddiness. Another cut at 1Khz to take away any annoying piano key sounds. Then we boost around 12Khz to make our sound shine.

Step 4

dr-dre-piano-compressor

Dre’s pianos are super compressed and aggressive. Apply a compressor on your piano track with a ratio of 2:1, set your attack around 20ms and your release to 100ms. Push your threshold until you get the amount of compression your looking for.  We pushed our threshold to -12db.

 

Now you should have a piano track sounding like Dr. Dre pianos. Watch the following video to see how we used reverb and a Bitcrusher to add even more dynamics to our piano sound.