Top 10 Free VST Plugins for Trap, Hip-Hop and Drill Melodies in 2022
If you’re looking for the best free drill VSTs on the market, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this small article, we want to break down some of the top VSTs and effects plugins that are great for making drill music.
Drill music has been in a rapid state of evolution over the past few years, and we only imagine it’ll continue growing and expanding for the next decade or more. Of course, producing high-quality beats in this sub-genre of hip-hop music means having versatile and high-fidelity VSTs.
#1 Cloud Drum
Cloud Drum is a unique and relaxing steel drum VST that you can bang out melodic rhythms on with three octaves of sonic goodness. In our opinion, it is one of the most inspiring free VSTs on the market today, perfect for adding color and one-of-a-kind moderation to your music. The sound of the Cloud Drum perfectly balances the heavy-hitting sound of drill drums and bass.
What’s truly surprising is how variable this free instrument is. Some of the notes seem to get a bit of dissonance of rattle at certain velocities, which provides a sense of realism that’s hard to get from many free VSTs.
Not only is Cloud Drum great for creating an ambiance that sits behind the rest of the instruments in your track, but you can also create incredible melodies using the intuitive sound engine and the myriad of brilliant effects.
Though it may seem like it, Cloud Drum is not a one-trick pony and can be used in several ways to enhance your drill tracks.
#2 Etherealwinds Harp
There is ALWAYS space for a good harp sound in any drill track, and Etherealwinds Harp 2 absolutely blows the competition away. You truly can’t go wrong with the built-in sound engine. It’s free and sounds absolutely amazing.
The harp in this VST was recorded from the ground up during an intense eight-hour session, creating one of the most complete harp libraries out there. There are a whopping 255 samples to mess with and around 380 MB of sonic calm.
The harp recorded was a diatonic folk harp from a Newgrounds harpist. The beauty of this folk/lever harp compared to its larger orchestral brothers and sisters is that it has a smaller range and a unique tuning system. Pedal harps, which are orchestral standards, use levers at the base, which the musician activates with their foot to control the notes.
This type of harp has a unique tone and a limited half-step sharp or flat motion. What’s great about this limited motion, range, and tone is that it is much easier to integrate into modern mixes.
#3 Keyzone Classic
Keyzone Classic is a must-have plugin for any producer, whether you make drill beats or not. If you have any slight familiarity with the world of drill music, then you know there are piano sounds in MOST tracks. Of course, stock sounds don’t always make the cut when it comes to the overall tonality.
Keyzone Classic is a unique sample-based piano that takes its sounds from real recordings, giving you the non-synthesized sound of moving air that exudes realism. Plus, there are five incredible presets to get you started, including a Yamaha Grand Piano, Steinway Grand Piano, Basic Electric Piano, Rhodes Piano, and the Piano from Keyzone 1.
The Yamaha setting is wonderful for making beats, as it is flexible and doesn’t fill up too much of the frequency spectrum.
Plus, Keyzone Classic gives users the ability to adjust different parameters of the plugin, such as the volume envelope, LFO settings, reverb, and detuning. Even with its versatility, it’s super easy to use!
#4 Versilian Chamber Orchestra 2 Community Edition
Having an orchestral VST at your disposal is a must, no matter what kind of music you make. There will come a time when you need a massive bed of strings to fill out your tracks.
Versilian Chamber Orchestra is an open-source plugin that was created by musicians, for musicians. It’s the perfect plugin to get you started with using Native Instruments Kontakt, though you don’t have to spend a dime on the full version of Kontakt!
You’ll hear a lot of string sounds in drill beats, including staccato melodies and ambient string beds. You can even create that unique, dystopian sound that you hear in many orchestral-focused tracks. Plus, there are plenty of options in this plugin for full-on sound design, including effects, envelope controls, reverse controls, and plenty of cool effects. With all of these goodies packed into one plugin, it is one of the most versatile free VSTs out there.
#5 Fluffy Audio Simple Flute
Fluffy Audio’s Simple Flute is one of the best-sounding flute instruments out there. Plus, if you’re familiar with Kontakt, you’ll feel right at home using it.
In terms of playability, Simple Flute excels. With excellent playability, high-quality samples, and a jaw-dropping script engine for a free VST, the flute is surprisingly realistic. There are many ways to make it sound even more realistic if you take your time with it, including controllable legato and vibrato, multi-tempo playability, and more!
It’s so easy to trick listeners into thinking there is a real flute on your track!
Beyond that, you also get a wide selection of reverb impulse presets, dual articulations with micro-tuning, and three phase-locked dynamics layers. With such excellent dynamic layer crossfading, Simple Flute produces some of the best grace notes and trills out there!
If you’re a flute player, you can use a wind or breath MIDI controller to arrange your parts too, which is great for knocking out flute parts if you play, yet lack solid recording capabilities.
#6 Spitfire LABS
Spitfire LABS is an absolutely mind-blowing free plugin.
For starters, it is an ongoing series of live-recorded software instruments that were made by musicians and a team of top-tier sampling engineers based in London. There are so many great instruments to get you started, and Spitfire is constantly releasing new sounds. You’ll never get bored!
I’ve spoken to many professional composers that use the LABS soft piano plugin as their go-to software piano sound. Seriously, you could use this thing to write an album, and no one would ever know that you were using software.
Beyond that, you’ll find orchestral samples, brass samples, drum samples, guitar samples, and textural samples.
Even more than the samples, the interface is what attracts many users. It’s so simple to use with one main knob and two large faders that control the parameters of each instrument. The flexibility that you get with each instrument isn’t that great, though when it comes to the quality of the recorded samples, you can’t beat this plugin.
#7 Sinefactory Orchestral Tools
Sinefactory is another company that offers a free subscription-based plugin service for those who want to consistently try new plugins without ever having to pay a dime!
Sinefactory Orchestral Tools is a one-of-a-kind offering of useful sampled instruments, including piano, strings, percussion, and so much more! Similar to Spitfire LABS, this company creates a variety of outstanding instruments and is consistently releasing new instruments to add to your library, so you never get bored!
All of the libraries have very full and dreamy qualities, and while they might not all be instruments you’d use on every track, they are great for inspiring unique ideas and adding a cinematic quality to your music.
The interface is super easy to use, and the instruments don’t take up much space on your computer, allowing you to download the entire library without weighing down your system.
#8 DSK World Stringz
DSK World Stringz gives you access to eight incredible-sounding string instruments from around the world, including:
- Celtic Harp
- Turkish Oud
You’ll find a bunch of parameters that you can adjust for a more realistic sound, including a velocity response system, an amp, a micro-detuner, an envelope, MIDI automation, and a high-pass/low-pass filter to fit these instruments in with your mixes better.
We’ll be honest. There are a few sounds in this library that feel like they belong in an old-school Zelda video game, though not all of them are cheesy. With the proper effects and processing, you can easily experiment and create interesting layers with these instruments to breathe new life into your drill tracks.
#9 Native Instruments Komplete Start
Native Instruments Komplete Start might be one of the most versatile free VSTs on the market. Plus, it makes a great introduction to the wide world of Native Instruments. You get more than 2,000 studio-quality sounds to produce and perform with. From 16 pro-grade synths to a variety of sampled instruments, loops, and effects, you could get this instrument and nothing else and still have all you need to produce radio-ready drill beats.
Some of the included synthesizer instruments include Mikro Prism, Blocks Base, TRK-01, Space Drone, Carbon 2, and LazerBass. As for the sampled instruments, you get access to Analog Dreams, Hybrid Keys, Ethereal Earth, Synth Drums, Urban Beats, and more!
Native Instruments even provides the ultra-colorful Supercharger Tube Compressor and the Guitar Rig 6 Player, which has 13 versatile effect boxes built-in. While these effects were technically made for guitar, they are great for manipulating vocals, drums, synthesizers, and just about anything else you want to throw into them!
Plus, if you invest in a Komplete MIDI keyboard, you can increase your workflow tenfold when playing these instruments in Komplete Kontrol.
#10 Creepy Piano & Creepy Piano 2 Lite
There is no better staple of drill music than those haunting piano sounds that often seem to pop in the most nightmarish yet melodic ways possible. Electronik Sound Lab Creepy Piano offers some of the most haunting piano sounds and noises available in the VST world.
Creepy Piano 2 builds off of Creepy Piano with a brand new interface, a modulation LFO, and a high-quality ADSR envelope. There are 25 presets of multi-sampled pianos to mess around with, which were recorded on Yamaha and Steinway pianos. Whether you’re making drill music, hip-hop, trap, or cinematic background music, Creepy Piano 2 can provide the sounds you need!
What’s truly great about Creepy Piano 2 is that it doesn’t require a ton of processing to get what you need. The pitch range is super helpful for people who don’t play piano yet want to be able to bang out melodies in keys beyond C major or A minor while using only the white keys.
With simple volume, pan, and effects controls, the interface gives you everything you need to make the next big Halloween drill banger!
What VSTs Do Drill Producers Use?
Drill producers use many of the VSTs above, as well as popular plugins and VSTs like:
- ReFX Nexus
- Sugar Bytes Effectrix
- Softube Saturation Knob
- iZotope Ozone Imager
Do I Need VSTs?
You don’t need to buy VSTs to make drill music or any kind of music for that matter. Many producers use samples or stock plugins to make their music, which is totally fine! However, VSTs can help the production process by giving you professional sounds and effects to work with!
We highly recommend getting some synth VSTs, some reverb/delay plugins, and a couple of effects plugins.
As you can see, there are several free VSTs to get you started making high-quality drill beats. We know that not everyone out there has the luxury to spend tons of money on plugins and VSTs, which is why we wanted to make this list!
Of course, if you truly want to step up your beat-making game, there’s no better resource than online courses. Make sure to check out our Melodic Drill from Start to Finish Course, which will teach you how to make bangers each time you step into the studio!