1. Using the Wrong Kick:
When it comes to tech house, one thing that needs to be right is the kick drum! If you have the wrong kick, then you have no tech house. A great starting point is to familiarize yourself with the classic Roland 909 Drum Machine. While using the original samples might require advanced processing skills, you can find plenty of kicks on Splice with a similar character to a 909.
2. Improper Clap/Snare Release:
One of the most common mistakes in tech house is having a long clap/snare release. Tech house is a dynamic genre that demands a tight approach to your drum work. Long releases on your percussion can harm your groove. An easy fix is to place your claps/snares in a sampler where you can adjust the release and tweak it accordingly.
3. Overused Vocals:
This one may seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning. Get creative with your sample digging! Just because a vocal sounds cool in a loop as it is, doesn't mean you should get lazy and not try to make it your own. If you can't find original vocals and need to use sample packs, make sure to add something unique to the loop. One of the worst things we hear in demos all the time is an obvious and overused vocal.
4. Over-"Side-Chained" Bassline:
When it comes to tech-house basslines, they shouldn't pump too much! The trick to groovy tech baselines is to ensure that only the very low end is pumping. When the entire baseline jumps because of excessive side-chain, the overall feel is off. An easy fix is to side-chain only the very low end (80-100Hz and below), leaving the mids without side-chain pumping. You can achieve this by using a multi-band splitter and triggering the compressor/LFO tool only on the low frequencies.
Conclusion: Tech House is an art form like any other genre, and while it's important to be creative, certain rules should apply! Take the time to listen to classic tech-house tracks from labels like Toolroom Records and start applying those principles to your own style. To assist you on your journey, our tech-house expert, Markus Martínez, is here to provide you with a few essential tips!
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