Basic FL Studio Tutorial

Fruity Loops Studio 12 (32-Bit) Part 1 - Basics

By: Pascal "PotatoBoss" van den Bos 2018
If you want to use an older version of FL Studio you can get them here (you will need an image line account)
If you want the latest version you can get it here

1. Open the program (duh.)

Ok so a lot of stuff is going on at first, none of it is important right now though.
Alright so the big window on the right of the screen?, that's the playlist, here is where you put all your patterns containing notes and magic n' stuff. Here is also where you put your automations but we'll get to all that noise later.

If you can’t see the playlist though, press this very obviously marked button here.

2. Open the channel rack and the mixer

Ok, so now that you have the playlist open, we'll go ahead and open the channel rack (which is the button next to the playlist button) and the mixer (which is the button further to the right from that with the 2 sticks with squares in the middle), these will be important later.

3. Create a pattern

Now we’re going to create a pattern, press the + symbol next to “pattern 1”, or in this case next to “Danny Devito bathing in molten m&m’s” to make it easier to locate
Once you’ve pressed the + just rename the pattern to some cool edgy name so you don’t get confused when you have multiple patterns, and give it a funky color if you want to keep them apart a bit easier.
Now click on the playlist and your pattern will appear, you can make it longer or shorter by dragging on the end of it.

4. Now to make some music

To make music we obviously need sounds first.

So located on the left of Bill Bolin's sexy middlefingergun are 4 soundbanks. These soundbanks are by default the "sampler" plugin that lets you use audio clips in your songs, but in this case we want to use a different plugin to make music with.

So just rightclick the soundbank, go to "replace" and then to the plugin called: "Fruity Soundfont Player". This is by far my favorite plugin because it also lets you use samples from videogames and such.

5. Getting rad soundfonts to use in your bangin' tracks

This is what your soundfont player looks like when you open it. (Soundfont player not included in newer versions of FL. Studio (higher than 12.5))

Now to get us some good soundfonts, we have to download a few first since the only soundfont it comes with is crappy strings, i highly recommend this site by WilliamKage. He has some really good soundfonts on there that i personally use a lot. There are also some of my favorite ones in this folder i made here

To open them, press the picture of John Egbert kissing his hot posters, or.. erm, that would be a folder icon with you...

In this case i'll pick one of my favorite soundfonts, which is the Ultimate Megadrive Soundfont, obviously, it has megadrive sounds.

Now that you have the soundfont open, you can select a sound you want to use from the sound index.
I'll take the sawtooth wave since that shit's hella tight fam.

6. Open the piano roll to write some tunes

You can open the piano roll in 2 ways, either press the gray bar Bill Bolin's hand was just located on, or press the button next to the button you used to open the channel rack.

This is what the piano roll looks like when you opened it, this is where you put your notes to write your music.

Here's a simple melody i put down real quick. You can also change the Velocity (volume) of these notes by dragging the sticks at the bottom up and down, you can also select single notes if they are layered too much so you don't change the volume of all of them. You can select them with the selector (the square tool thing in the bar at the top with all the icons). You can also use this to pan certain notes or change the pitch, you can switch between velocity, panning or pitch by clicking "control" and selecting the option you want.

You can play music by clicking the sideways illuminati logo. The swishy arrows next to that decide what you're playing, when the arrow is orange you get a playback from your piano roll, when you click it, it turns green and it plays back your playlist.

The square next to the sideways illuminati logo obviously stops the playback, and the circle records stuff you play, this is really useful when you're using a midi controller.

The button above the orange arrows turns on the metronome, it ticks at the same speed of your BPM (Beats Per Minute), the BPM decides how fast your song plays, you can adjust it by sliding the numbers where it says "130.000".

The playback slider below all of those buttons shows how long your song plays when you play it, and the two sliders on the left decide the master volume and the pitch (left volume, right pitch)

Now as you can see, the melody i just wrote is in the playlist because i wrote it in the pattern i already put in the playlist.

7. Slapping some patterns together

Now that you know how to make patterns, you can start making more and combining them into a song.

Here i made a simple drum loop with the secret of mana soundfont.

And a bassline with the MMX2 soundfont.

When you have some more patterns, be sure to give them a name and color, this isn't necessary but it helps keep them apart.
Also be sure to put them into the playlist

8. Mixing some stuff a bit... kinda

Now that we have some sounds, we can give them some effects to make them sound better and more interesting.

This is the mixer. Lots of intimidating stuff i know, we'll get to most of it step by step.
Ok so the mixer is divided in channels. Every channel corresponds with a sound bank.

As you can see, there is a number in front of every sound bank, they decide what mixer channel will apply to them.
You can also directly route the banks to the channels.

You can select a sound bank by clicking the little bar on the right of them, when it's surrounded by green, you have selected it. Just right click a mixer channel, go to channel routing, and route the selected channel. Now your sound bank is routed to your mixer and you can place effects on it!

Back to this
You can add effects by clicking the slots above toby fox, flipping you off for your sins.

Some of my favorite effects are:
-Fruity Reeverb
-Fruity Delay 2
-Fruity Blood Overdrive
-Fruity Parametric EQ 2
-Fruity Phaser
-Fruity Flanger
-dBlue Crusher

I won't get into most of the technical details of everything since this is a basic tutorial, but i'll give some brief summaries.

Reverb gives a sort of echo effect which is really nice for orchestral pieces to make them sound more alive and give them some atmosphere i guess, works great with piano too!
Delay also creates sort of an echo, but in a different way because it repeats the last note that was played, you can adjust how many times it repeats and how loud it is and stuff in the effect itself.
Blood Overdrive/Tube Screamer puts distortion on stuff, so it's cool for electric guitars and such, Blood Overdrive works really well when you combine it with Reeverb, Delay, and some sweet EQ imo.
Chorus basically plays the same track but with slight differences so you geta real interesting sound, fun to play around with!
EQ is to adjust the amplitude of audio signals at particular frequencies, basically frequency specific volume knobs.
The Phaser basically just constantly pans (not to be confused with pan-o-matic) sound left to right, you can adjust speed and depth and such in the effect itself.
Maximus is to compress stuff mostly or make stuff louder, but lets not get into that hell hole now.
Bitcrusher dBlue Crusher is a really cool bitcrusher, basically it makes the sound you put it on sound all crunchy and distorted, but more 8-bit distorted rather than the guitar kind. And you can even automate this! how cool!

Now that you have some rad effects on your track, it's time to get to automating stuff.

9. Automation

Now might want to change volume or pitch during parts of the song, so i'm gonna show you how to automate stuff now. (this also works with effects, you can manage the amount of effect it applies with this)
For the sake of not writing a book here, i'll show the example with pitch, although this is about the same for any automation.

now open the soundfont player for the instrument you want to automate.
Right click the pitch (or whatever you want to automate), and click "create automation clip".

the automation clip will show up in your playlist.
you can resize it to which part you want it to alter the sound.
Now you can right click to place a dot in the line, or grab one of the ones that are already there. you can drag them up to make the pitch (or volume whatevs) go up or down for low pitch.

You can also click on the soundbank for the automation clip to alter it there.

I turned on the LFO and messed with the settings a bit to make a little pitch bend.
So yeah now you know how to automate!

10. A lil extra

i said i wasnt gonna get into maximus but there's one thing you should always do with it.

Go to the master channel.
It just messes up your song.

So remove that and add Maximus.

Here is maximus

Take the "thres" button and twist it left so it's on 1% (you can see the percentage in the top left of your screen, just twist it around a bit), and put "ceil" on -0.1.
This will put a limit on your track so it will always stay on 0db and so you can master it freely without it becoming earrape. Just play around with the "bands" of maximus to make it sound better and louder until youre happy with it.

11. Exporting

This is the final step, now just export your song to mp3 or WAV or whatever, and post it somewhere! Maybe show it to your friends to look hecka rad or to your mom to show her that you’re super skilled in writing cool songs for dead comics.

Now you know some basics of FL. Studio, i hope this helped and remember to experiment lots with this program! If anyone has any questions feel free to ask me!
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PotatoBoss - 2020