How to Select the Right Plugins as a Producer

How to Select Plugins as a Producer

When you see a plugin out there.. you might think, “Oh.. that plugin looks cool! I’m going to download, and try it out!”.

But I caution you before you jump in too quickly..

And I say this from years of experience.. read closely if you want your plugins to be organized for the long term.. because I made a lot mistakes when it came to acquiring the VST plugins that suited my workflow!

How to Select GOOD PLUGINS for Beatmaking

The Short Answer First..

The secret is having good VST plugins, which you know in-depth.

See all my favorite plugins on my LEARN YOUR GEAR page.

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The Long Answer: How to Choose Good Plugins for Beatmaking

Notice, I did not write “what are the best vst plugins for beatmaking”.. Everyone looks up what are the best plugins, but I’ll repeat it..

The secret is having good tools, that work well, which you know in-depth.

It doesn’t matter what other people use.. once you find your set of tools.. you’ll learn how and WHERE YOU like to use your VST plugins throughout the music production process.

You Don’t Need EVERY Plugin!

When I started learning how to make beats.. I remember watching music production tutorials where they had SO MANY PLUGINS..

Not just like 20 plugins.. not even like 30-40 plugins..

I mean almost one-hundred VST plugins for mixing and beatmaking!

This is silly and will cost you A LOT of money!

Plus you’ll never be able to learn the tools in-depth.. There’s literally not enough time to learn all your plugins, at least properly..

But the biggest reason to find good plugins is for THE LONG TERM

Here’s an Example of Why the Long-Term Matters for Good Plugins..

Let’s say you found a new third-party plugin the other day.. and without testing, you use it on a REAL PROJECT.

You think nothing of it.. it did the job fine..

But as time went on, you realize it starts crashing your DAW when you do certain tasks.. and so you decide to delete it.

Well, guess what?

These old serious projects require that plugin to open.

And.. if it’s 3-4 months later.. you’re going to say to yourself, “Oh yeah!! I deleted that plugin because it was buggy.. or because I didn’t like it.. or what ever reason”.

This is why it’s very important to think before using a third-party plugin.. You also need to make sure to backup that VST in case something happens.. like a company going out of business.. like the amazing CamelCrusher distortion!

Moral of the Story: Think Ahead!

This why it’s important CHOOSE the plugins you like BEFORE using them on your “real music”.

Want to test a new plugin?

I’d say clone an existing project.. THEN open up that new plugin and play around with it..

Do you like it?

Is it a VST plugin that you think you’ll use for the long-term?

If it is, then awesome! Keep it.. as you’ll be using it all the time while you make your beats, mix your music, and master your tracks!

But.. if you don’t like that plugin.. you have saved yourself a lot of grief by never using it in a real project.

What If I Already Used A Plugin I Didn’t Like?

You don’t really have a choice now..

If you want to open up your old real projects again, you need to keep those old plugins around.. and that’s why it’s REALLY important to keep your plugins backed up properly..

You can learn how I organize my music folder in this course..

See? If you think this way, it’ll filter out the quality tools you like and which work well for you..

I’m a big advocate on learning the tools you have well.. once you learn a tool in-depth.. that’s when you find your own sound as a producer!

What Is a Good Plugin?

The goal is having a well-rounded set of plugins which allows full control over your audio..

I always talk about versatility in our sounds and plugins.

Music programs come stock with most of these tools, but usually a DAW is missing some type of tool that is only available in a third-party plugin (or that is significantly better).

These tools could be on the beatmaking side of things, or on the mixing/mastering side of things!

For example with mixing plugins..

Do you have distortion plugins? (These are important for adding fullness to your music, or being super creative to push your music really hard and see what you can come up with!)

What about a clipper? (A clipper is such a special tool.. which is like a limiter.. but no attack and release times.. it just shaves the peaks off your audio pretty transparently, but gives you great loudness!)

Okay.. last one.. what about a transient shaper (which helps enhance or decrease the initial spike of a sound..)

It doesn’t matter if these are stock or third-party plugins..

The question is.. do you have a similar tool that allows you to do these tasks?

Every music producer should have these tools I mentioned.. you will have such control over your audio, and allow for great creativity!

Remember, just because I use a plugin, doesn’t mean you need it.. but I do highly recommend them as they have made my life easier, and allowed me to make the quality of music you hear from my music.

These tools work great for me, and I’m sharing them with you:

I’ve personally used, purchased, and tested this equipment with FL Studio, as that’s the only DAW I use!

See my LEARN YOUR GEAR page for all recommendations!

GratuiTous is a FL Studio Trainer
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GratuiTous (Riley Weller) is a Recognized FL Studio Trainer with over 30 Beatmaking Courses. He writes Beatmaking Books, hosts the Music Production Made Simple Podcast, and helps students with FL Studio Lessons. He also makes lots of his own music!
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