Synthwave Kick Patterns

The essential guide for programming synthwave kicks

drums kick synthwave basics

The kick and the bass own the low end in any modern music production. In Synthwave this isn’t the exception. The right kick pattern will complement the bass and provide your track with the power and momentum it needs to deliver your message.

As a drummer with over 20 years of experience, I listened to hundreds of Synthwave tracks and will show you the kick patterns most used by the pros and how you can use them in your tracks starting today.

Let’s get to it!

Essential Kick Patterns

For all the drum grooves we’ll cover today, the one thing that won’t change is that the snare will play a simple rock and roll back beat on the 2 and 4. Let’s get on to the patterns then.

  1. “4 on the floor”
    • Set your MIDI grid to 1/4 notes
    • Enter a kick note on every beat
    • 4 on the floor is characteristic of electronic dance music, and the term originates from disco. You can hear it everywhere. It provides a simple, yet heavy and solid groove.
    • Effective tempos between 60bpm -130bpm. After 130bpm it may feel too heavy so it may be better to switch to Pattern #2.
    • It goes along well with almost all bass patterns since it leaves ample room for the bass to fill in the space between the beats if desired.
  2. “Kick on 1 and 3”
    • Set your MIDI grid to 1/4 notes
    • Enter a kick note on the first and third beats of the bar
    • It is similar to “4 on the floor” but less heavy so you can use it as a lighter alternative
    • Effective tempos between 60bpm – 180bpm. You can use it at higher tempos than Pattern #1
    • Great with most bass patterns, leaves ample room between the beats for syncopated bass notes
  3. “8th note variations”
    • Set your grid to 8th notes and experiment with entering notes on the beat and in between
    • You can listen to most mainstream pop, rock and country songs for inspiration. Make sure to leave space and not clutter up the groove
    • It is less rigid than patterns #1 and #2; it’s more agile. It gives the groove more dynamics and syncopation
    • Effective tempos between 60bpm – 180bpm
    • Works well with bass patterns that play rolling 16ths or 8ths. If the bass plays a groove, make sure each kick note aligns with a bass note to give the music more power and punch
  4. “16th note variations”
    • Set your grid to 16th notes and experiment with entering notes on the beat and on the 2nd and 4th 16th notes from the beat. Listen to mainstream pop, rock and country for inspiration
    • The off beat kick hits can give the groove a funky vibe. Don’t put too many in a row or in places that may sound awkward. Again, listen to examples from pop and rock
    • Effective tempos between 60bpm- 130bpm. Above that the groove may sound too cluttered and unstable
    • Works best with rolling 16th bass patterns or bass grooves where the kick notes align with bass notes
  5. “Hybrid 8ths and 16ths”
    • Set your grid to 16 notes and experiment with entering notes on the beat as well as the three available 16th notes.
    • The middle 16th note is at the same time the off-beat 8th note from pattern #3. Listen to mainstream pop, rock and country for inspiration. Don’t use too many notes or you may clutter up the groove
    • Mixing 8ths and 16ths gives the most flexibility to find the right groove for your track
    • Effective tempos between 60bpm-130bpm. Above 130bpm use less 16ths and make sure to put them in places where they feel stable and add to the groove
    • Best with rolling 16th note bass patterns or grooves that use 16ths. Make sure your kicks align with bass notes.


Now that you know these 5 kick patterns, you can listen to almost any Synthwave track and quickly identify which one is being used.

Not only that but you have added new techniques to your arsenal that you can apply in your music from this point onward.

Experiment and have fun!

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