Choosing Instruments in JamDeck

Instrument Browser

Clicking the instrument in the glass covered area beside the on-screen keyboard will reveal the instrument browser. Clicking on any of the instrument panels will load the selected instrument or begin capturing from the selected input device.

The JamDeck Instrument Browser

Instrument Collections

Jam Essentials

The Jam Essentials collection of instruments contains a selection of sampled acoustic and electronic instruments that are suitable for a wide range of music. As of JamDeck 1.1, five pianos are included: A Studio Piano, "Classic" Piano, the "Dusty Piano" made from degraded recordings, an Electric Piano, and a Tack Piano. Each piano offers a different timbre suitable for different moods and styles of music. Other acoustic instruments include a cello, glockenspiel, organ, tubular bells, tremolo strings, and a few others.


The SodaSynth collection contains a selection of presets from the SodaSynth VST / AU synthesizer plugin. Some of the presets like "The Percussion" are great with acoustic music, as they provide warm, classic sounds that blend transparently and harmonize without being overbearing. Other presets, like "Banana Kombat", are oriented strictly towards electronic music production. Overall, SodaSynth is a versatile synthesizer for songwriting and music production, and these presets provide a useful excerpt to experiment with.

Analog Extracts

The Analog Extracts collection is a handful of sounds from the Analog Extracts Sample Pack and Plugin, created from an analog modular synthesizer. It's a completely unique set of sounds, but they're aimed strictly at electronic music production. Gritty, detuned, and bassy, using the Analog Extracts instruments can be more challenging in the context of songwriting because of their unorthodox sound, but could be just the right thing to spark your imagination.

Input Devices

The Input Devices column displays the recording devices found on your computer. Clicking on a recording device will hide the keyboard and display a VU meter in its place, showing the current recording level. If you have a microphone connected to your computer, you can lay down vocals or capture an acoustic instrument in JamDeck. It's also good for beatboxing or even just humming to capture a melody that's stuck in your head.

If you have SoundFlower (Mac OS X) or Virtual Audio Cable (Windows) installed, you can also use them to record from another audio application into JamDeck. For example, you can capture the audio from plugins playing in a VST plugin host with this approach, or make crazy on-the-fly mashups using the audio from YouTube videos.

Choosing the Right Instruments

If you're an experienced music producer, stop reading now, but if you're just getting into music production or are looking for some tips on how to make your JamDeck songs sound better, read on!

Here's some tips for picking instruments in your songs:

  • Start with one instrument, and avoid using it in too many layers. If your first loop is some piano chords, then for your next loop, switch to a different octave, or switch to a different instrument. If you use the same instrument in the same octave multiple times, your song will start to sound muddy and overly busy.

  • Separate the low, mid, and high frequencies. Pick one bass instrument, and make ONE bassline. Try to separate the bass, mid-section, and treble parts of your songs by using instruments. If your song sounds too busy or muddy, try cutting out one of these bands or thinning it out. Try to think of good combinations of 3 instruments (low/mid/high).

    For example, we like using these trios of instruments:
    • Classic Piano (Jam Essentials, mid), Mud (Analog Extracts, bass), The Percussion (SodaSynth, high)
    • Electric Piano (Jam Essentials, mid), Organ (Jam Essentials, bass), Glockenspiel (Jam Essentials, high)
    • Smooth Decay (SodaSynth, mid), Cruise (Jam Essentials, bass), Sparks (Analog Extracts, high)

Lastly, remember it's not a race to use as many instruments as possible, and more loops doesn't necessarily make your song better. Some of our favourite JamDeck jams only have one or two instruments!

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