FL Studio has become one of the most prominent DAWs amongst songwriters and producers over the past decade, as music-makers started unraveling the magic within. Of course, as with most music technology, starting your journey in a new DAW can feel overwhelming.
For that reason, we’ve crafted a list of 10 essential FL Studio tips for beginners that we wish we would’ve known when starting out.
Let’s dive in!
#1 Fader Gain vs. Channel Volume
We often see a misunderstanding in FL Studio users (even experienced ones) about the difference between channel volume and fader gain.
It’s important to note that the channel volume is applied before the FX chain, while the fader volume or fader gain is applied after all of your fx. Essentially, your gain is the volume that is being sent to the master channel.
So, let’s say you’re adding a distortion plugin to one of your tracks. If you were to turn down the fader gain, you would get the same amount of distortion on that track, though the track would just sound quieter relative to the rest of the mix. The level of the fx applied is the same, though you’re getting more or less volume on the entire sound as you move the fader.
On the other hand, if you adjust the channel volume instead of the fader, you’ll hear how it changes the amount of distortion that is added to the track. This is because you’re changing the amount of input signal you are feeding the distortion plugin.
#2 Organic Playing with MIDI Recording
If you’ve ever found yourself noodling around on your keyboard and felt like whatever you just played was spectacular, but then when you go to record it into FL Studio with a metronome and it doesn’t quite feel right, we have a really cool tip that can help.
Start by playing around on one of your Instrument tracks until you get a progression that you like. Then, go to Tools > ‘Dump score log to selected pattern’ > any of the ‘Last X Minute’ choices.
If you choose ‘Last 2 Minutes,’ FL Studio will dump everything that you played in the last two minutes into your selected pattern, allowing you to adjust the MIDI you’ve already played to fit it into your session.
This is a fantastic method for getting more organic sounds in your recordings.
#3 Copying All Automation Points
So let’s say you have a high-pass filter that you automated on one of your tracks, and you want to take that automation and copy it over to another parameter, such as volume on your mixer.
Simply double left-click on the automation clip, select the tool icon and select copy state. Then, you can pull open your mixer by pressing F9, go over to your chosen track on your mixer, click ‘create automation clip,’ double-left click on that track, select the tool icon, and click ‘paste state.’
Now, your exact automation from one track is copied over into your next.
#4 Instantaneous Sample Chopping
Slicing and chopping samples can be an arduous process unless you know a good workflow to abide by. This probably has to do with the fact that many beginners find audio difficult to work within FL Studio, though we don’t actually believe it’s that bad.
For this example, let’s say you have a percussion loop track. Now, most new producers would automatically use the Cut tool to start chopping the sample, though there’s another great tool that is already built into FL Studio that we like even more,
Simple left-click on the percussion loop waveform > select Chop > choose between dull, medium, or sharp auto slicing.
We usually use dull auto slicing, as it tends to sound most natural.
This method will usually chop up the sample based on the transients, allowing you to quickly get rid of portions you don’t need and rearrange the loop so that it sounds completely different from the original yet maintains its original timing.
We love using this method to make samples sound a bit more relaxed without having to use half-speed audio warping.
PRO TIP: While this tip certainly works with all kinds of samples, it’s much better with transient samples, such as drums, percussion, or leads with ultra-distinct transients.
#5 Project Folders and Backups
This next tip is all about backing up your project safely, so you never lose any data. As we all know, there is nothing more upsetting than having things go missing along the way or files becoming corrupt.
To mitigate this issue, for every new project that you start, go to Options > General Settings > Project Tab. In the Data folder field, press the small folder icon and set a folder on your computer (either your actual computer or an external drive) for your project.
By doing this, everything will be saved inside your project folder.
If you don't do this, your files will be saved under the File tab in General Settings in the generic User data folder, which is very likely to be deleted or overwritten.
The second part of this tip is backing up your project properly, which you do by going to File > Export > Zipped loop package. You can name this whatever you want and save it onto your computer or an external drive. This will provide you with a zipped folder that you can store anywhere you’d like.
Even after years down the line, you’ll still be able to open this folder and find all of your project files, your MIDI, your plugin settings, your recorded audio, your samples, etc.
We’ve done this and opened projects up from years ago, and they still open up without any problems, even if you start using a new version of the software.
#6 Find Samples Faster
If you have a ton of samples that you are trying to audition for specific parts, trying to go through them can take forever.
Of course, while you could simply browse through all of the samples in your packs for hours and hours, you can instead right-click Packs, click “Smart find in this folder,” and search for your sample.
In doing so, you’ll load up all of your packs with that keyword that you can simply load into your channel rack. So, let’s say you search “snare” and find a ton of results. While holding down “F2” or “F3,” you can jump to the previous result or the next result to quickly audition different sounds and samples.
#7 Make Unique Patters, Clips, and Audio
Most advanced users will know this next feature, though it’s often the case that beginner FL Studio users aren’t aware of the “Make Unique” function.
Let’s say you have a drum loop in your session and a tambourine loop on top of it, and you want to manipulate the tambourine loop. Now, if you simply copy it and lower the pitch, or something similar, it will lower the pitch of the original tambourine loop and the new double.
However, if you duplicate the tambourine loop and click the small waveform icon in the top left portion of the waveform and select “Make Unique,” you can make adjustments that won’t impact the original sample.
The same thing goes for any parameter that you want to adjust.
You can also use this same method with patterns to adjust MIDI notes in a duplicated pattern without impacting the original or automation clips.
#8 Detaching Your Hint Bar
If you’re an ultra-creative producer who feels that you often get bogged down by the technical aspects in FL Studio, then you’ve probably noticed the small Hint panel at the top-left portion of the interface.
This Hint panel can be useful in that if you hover over a parameter, it will tell you what that parameter does.
As a beginner, it can be helpful to take this Hint panel one step further and go to the top, right-click the Hint panel, and open the Hint bar.
A small, dark box will pop up that you can drag around the screen. This box will give you information on parameters you hover over, very similar to the Hint panel, though it’s much easier to read. It’ll also give you the exact value of parameters that you adjust, which can be super helpful for ensuring you’re making the right moves.
#9 Keep Plugins on Top
If you’re brand new to FL Studio, then you’ve probably been in a situation where you’re working with a plugin, and it gets covered up by something like the mixer. So, to continue working on that plugin, you close the mixer that’s on top, continue tweaking, and suddenly, you click somewhere else, and the plugin disappears.
You then have to go back into the channel rack and open the plugin back up to continue working with it.
When this happens over and over again, it can be incredibly frustrating.
Luckily, the fix is simple.
Go to the top left of your plugin, click on the small down arrow, and select “Detach.” Now, whenever you open up something after that plugin, it will remain on top. Plus, when you click elsewhere, it won’t randomly disappear.
Of course, if you want to take this tip a step further, you can go to Options > General Settings > Miscellaneous Tab > Detach all plugins (make orange). When this button is engaged, you won’t have to manually detach your plugins every time you use them until you choose to close them down.
#10 Fast Mixer EQ
Often, people load up EQ plugins for very basic EQ moves, such as filtering. However, while it can be fun to go crazy with parametric EQs, there are quicker ways to approach basic moves.
Let’s say you have a piano loop that you want to make sound a bit more lo-fi by cutting the top-end off of it. If you click on your piano mixer channel, you can see the built-in Equalizer on the channel. Each channel has its own EQ.
This means you can easily duck out frequencies and start adjusting the included points to get the sound you want.
The beauty of this little trick is that you can get a really nice result without having to bring your workflow to a halt, load up a parametric EQ, open the window, and make your adjustments. Not only is it much faster and easier, but there isn’t any difference in quality, especially when you only need it for basic tasks.
Is FL Studio Good For Beginners?
FL Studio is great for beginners, as it is an extremely user-friendly DAW that offers a clean and modern design, perfect for quickly getting used to all of the features. With a handy Hint panel and a number of unique workflow features, we highly recommend FL Studio for anyone getting started in music production.
How Do I Get Better at FL Studio?
As with anything, the best way to get better at FL Studio is to use it as often as possible. Of course, if you’re serious about taking your music production to the next level, then a great way to level up quickly is by taking a course on FL Studio.
We have an excellent Beginner FL Studio course that we highly recommend checking out today, which has more than five hours of pure FL Studio knowledge for any genre.