Getting Started With Handy Drums Plugins – CUBASE

To get going quickly with Handy Drums plugins, first, make sure that you have installed the plugins you intend to use.

Before using the software, you must authorize it by entering the serial number (license key) you received with your purchase. Here is how to authorize Handy Drums.

Handy Drums Plugins: What they are and what they are not #

Handy Drums plugins are virtual drum sound modules. They playback drum samples when triggered by MIDI data. It is necessary to have a midi track with music notes routed to the plugin to make a sound. They can also be used as standalone apps on Windows and MacOS computers, in which case they will need to be played using hardware MIDI controllers.

Handy Drums plugins are not drum machines. They don’t contain drum loops and do not have a sequencer built into them.

Loading Handy Drums Inside Cubase #

The exact procedure for loading Handy Drums VSTi3/ VSTi2 plugins within a DAW will defer from one DAW to the next. For this example, we will show you how to load it inside Steinberg’s Cubase or Nuendo.

In Cubase/ Nuendo, you can load VSTi3/VSTi2 plugins either as VST Rack Instruments or dedicated VST Track Instruments. The difference is that an instrument in a VST rack can have several midi tracks triggering it, while an instrument track has a single dedicated VST instrument.

DAW project showing how MIDI and instrument tracks are connected to track and rack instruments within Cubase.

To load a Handy Drums plugin within VST Rack, locate the “Rack” button on the top right side of the software. Navigate to the Drum category once a drop-down is presented and select the Handy Drums plugin of choice.

Magnified rack button.

Alternatively, you can right-click in the same window and select “Add rack instrument” to get the popup.

It may take a few seconds for the plugin and the samples buffer to be loaded into your computer RAM. After the plugin is fully loaded, the Handy Drums GUI will be displayed.

If the GUI does not show up automatically, you may have disabled the automatic GUI display in your software settings. In that case, open the plugin GUI by clicking on the little “e” button on the Rack/Track instrument.

Magnified e button which stands for "edit" and which will open the plugin GUI when pressed.

Audition Plugin Sounds #

You can audition the sounds contained in the instrument plugin by clicking on the instrument icons above the volume sliders. With each mouse click, the relevant drum samples will be played at random velocities.

Playing a Drum Loop Through Handy Drums #

To play a drum groove through the Handy Drums plugins, you will need to drop an existing MIDI drum loop onto a MIDI track routed to the plugin or create a loop from scratch right on your MIDI track.

If you created a VST instrument track, then you will already have this ready and routed. 

If you created a VST rack track, you might have been prompted to create a MIDI track automatically routed to the newly loaded VST instrument. If you did so, you are set.

Cubase prompt to create a midi track automatically assigned to the new instrument.

If not, you’ll need to manually create a MIDI track and route it to the plugin. Follow your DAW’s procedure for creating a new midi track.

Create MIDI Track #

In Cubase, you can do so by right-clicking on the tracks and selecting Add MIDI track. In the following popup, name the track and click add track.

Route MIDI track Output #

Route the track output to the loaded Handy Drums plugin. Depending on your DAW settings, the MIDI track may automatically get routed to your rack instrument upon creation.

Magnified area within Cubase track showing how to hook up midi track output to one of the instruments.

Set The MIDI Track Channel #

Set the track’s MIDI channel to 10.

Cubase MIDI track and how to set the midi channel for the track.

Set The Track’s Time Base #

Set the time base to Musical if it is not already. It will ensure that your MIDI drum loops on the track follow any tempo changes you make.

How to set the time base on a Cubase MIDI track to musical.

Set Drum Map #

Set the drum map to GM Map. 

While Handy Drums follow GM drum mapping wherever possible, for most accurate results, download our Cubase drum maps and load the one relevant to the plugin you are using.

Your track is ready. 

Drop In A MIDI Drum Loop #

Drop a Handy Grooves drum loop or another drum loop of your choice onto your MIDI track. It will automatically be adjusted to the current tempo at the drop point.

Play the loop, and you should hear the sound.

Now that everything is working well, let us dive deeper into Handy Drums features and functionalities.