Review: Native Instruments Butch Vig Drums

Created and collated by moustachioed drummer and producer extraordinaire Butch Vig, this is a punchy and crunchy instrument for the Kontakt Play Series.

Price £60
Contact Native Instruments

This hard-hitting hybrid drum instrument for Kontakt was created via a two-stage recording process undertaken at United Recording Studio A and processed at drummer and producer Butch Vig’s GrungeIsDead studio. Many of the sounds started life as acoustic drums in a plusher-than-plush Hollywood studio but, having been pushed through the Vig machine, they have morphed into something that may or may not have come from an abused analogue drum machine – and we mean that in the best possible way.

Native Instruments Butch Vig Drums

Entertain us

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The main interface page features 16 MPC-style pads, shaped by drum type: K for kick, S for snare, etc. Each of the 21 kits is supplemented with 16 beats by Vig, accessed via the patterns page, from which the MIDI files can be dragged and dropped in your DAW. Playback options include speed, quantising and latch and re-trigger. At the bottom of all four pages are eight dials for global parameters – six effects macros, tune and level. The macros cover filtering, distortion and saturation, modulation, and reverb and delay, each controlling up to 24 parameters. The kits have preset assignments but, as with most areas of BVD, users can tweak to taste.

The kit page holds the pad assignments: sample selection, pitching, velocity curve, high-pass and low-pass filtering, envelope, insert and send effects. The effects page toggles between insert, global and send effects, and from here users can assign parameters to the six macro knobs.

The 21 kits have titles such as LSD, Bonzophonic 80s and The Nasty Room. They sound loud, heavy, punchy, colourful and fun. The immediate impression is set by the colour scheme and comic-book illustration, which continues through the big, bold sounds and simple, irresistible playability. Vig’s post-recording processing, courtesy of his collection of pedals and outboard units, makes full use of distortion and saturation to create a weighty set of drum kits. Surprisingly though, there is plenty of room for adding even more weight, which is a testament to the quality of the source material here.

Native Instruments Butch Vig Drums

Smashing drum skins

There’s no real need to dive into the kits, and the macros provide solid starting points. Going further pays off, from re-pitching and tweaking insert effects to assigning more parameters to the macros for MIDI control from your DAW. The patterns are set up in each kit as track components (verses, choruses, fills, etc), providing a window into what their creator may have imagined when putting the kits together. Butch Vig knows a thing or two about beats. As a drummer, his records with Garbage have hardly been minor affairs.
Butch Vig Drums may not answer the rhythmic needs of genre-locked producers but, for those with broader palettes, it has a solid yet malleable set of kits, hits and beats that bring some snap, crackle and pop to proceedings. The meaty, roomy kicks and snares that seem to love extra sauce from pitching, distortion and transient shaping are particularly noteworthy.

Native Instruments Butch Vig Drums

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Key features

  • 21 kits, 16 hits, 16 groove patterns
  • 468 samples
  • 336 MIDI files
  • Instrument for Kontakt and Kontakt Player
  • Kits fully user-editable
  • Six macros per kit for user assignable effects and filter control

Alternatives

Toontrack
Alt-Rock EZX £70
This kit and groove set for EZDrummer 2 was recorded by another Nirvana associate, Steve Albini. Created at his Electrical Audio studio, it features two acoustic kits with an open sound you’d expect from Albini.

Native Instruments
Maschine Drum Selection £45
These 20 kits from the Machine library fit a range of modern styles. Acoustic, digital, vinyl and vintage analogue kits are accompanied by an integrated drum computer or groove sequencing.

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