We’re taking a look at the best free drum VST plugins for digital audio workstations on Windows and macOS.
Drums are widely considered the foundation of most music, but I prefer to consider them a framework for constructing songs.
Think about it.
You have the four-on-the-floor drums for rock, the classic “boots and cats” beat for EDM, the “Un-tz Un-tz” drums for trance, the train beat for country music, the swing beat for jazz, the surf beat for surf, the D-beat for punk, the blast beat for black metal, etc.
That’s obviously an oversimplification, but whatever drumbeat you play, that’s the type of music you’re making. So you could say that drums are somewhat important.
As such, drum VST plugins are a fundamental component of your music production software collection.
Drum VST Plugins (2023 Update)
We listed the best drum plugins you can get for free. The list includes acoustic drum kits, drum synthesizers, drum samplers, and drum machine romplers.
- SSD Free
- MT Power Drum Kit 2
- LABS Drums
- MODO Drum Custom Shop
- Organic Calfskin Kit
- Addictive Drums DEMO
- Monster Drum
- Jamstix Free
- EXC!TE SNARE DRUM
- Speedrum Lite
- BPB Cassette Drums
All featured drum plugins are 100% free to use.
Steven Slate Drums is an iconic free drum plugin. If you produce rock, metal, or pop music, this is the plugin you’d get recommended the most.
Nowadays, we have access to the SSD Free edition, and I’m happy to say that it sounds great.
You get one kit, the “Deluxe 2 Kit”, with three variations, but you also have complete control over the mix, can import your own samples, and the plugin even comes with a few MIDI grooves included. Perfect for a beginner if you want to really learn your way around one of these.
The included drum kits sound great. SSD Free is among the best acoustic drum plugins you can download for free. It’s also completely royalty-free, so you can use it in your commercial projects, too.
Highly recommended as a starter drum VST plugin for rock music and its subgenres, but you can also process the sounds to make them work in hip-hop, electronica, and other genres.
More info: SSD Free
MT Power Drum Kit 2
MT Power Drum Kit 2 was released in 2012 but has recently gone freeware. It’s a free acoustic drum kit plugin with a built-in mixer and a groove collection that you can use to build songs.
I’ll be honest, MT Power Drum Kit 2 doesn’t sound as realistic as some of the other drum plugins on this list, but that’s not where its strengths lie. To my ear, it always sounds like those classic 80s over-compressed drums you hear in rock and pop songs of that era.
So, if you’re producing retro rock music or synthwave with acoustic drums, I’m sure you’ll love the sounds included in MT Power Drum Kit 2.
If you want a free drum plugin that hits hard and cuts through a busy mix, this is it. MT Power Drum Kit 2 also has a massive library of MIDI grooves, which might be worth the price of admission alone.
More info: MT Power Drum Kit 2
I am a HUGE proponent of LABS and its great-sounding sound libraries. What do you care if a plugin isn’t in-depth when you can download dozens of the highest-quality sound packs for it?
LABS Drums is an acoustic drum library for the LABS plugin. It delivers mix-ready drum sounds for rock and pop.
I don’t know what it is about this one, but it sounds lovely. It also offers more than enough in the dynamics department and has more percussion sounds than you probably need. In fact, it’s specifically tailored to General MIDI specifications, so if that’s something you use, this is a fantastic option.
More info: LABS Drums
MODO Drum Custom Shop
MODO Drum Custom Shop is the free edition of IK Multimedia’s flagship MODO Drum software. It comes with one free drum kit and can upgrade your sound arsenal with expansion kits.
The included Studio kit sounds great and has been one of a few industry standards for many years. But the best thing about the free version is that you get the complete MODO Drum engine. Any tweaking you can do in MODO Drum 1.5, you can also do in the free Custom Shop plugin.
The instrument uses IK Multimedia’s modal synthesis technology to create authentic drum sounds. If you’re looking for a great-sounding starter drum kit, MODO Drum Custom Shop is a very good choice.
More info: MODO Drum Custom Shop
Organic Calfskin Kit
Organic Calfskin Kit is a fairly realistic-sounding drum VST plugin. You can add additional drum kits from the developer’s website, and it’s one of the few offerings that cover different performance articulations, like brushes or mallets.
The controls are simple, but there’s also a pitch modulation effect labeled “Weirdness,” which I really appreciate. If you’ve ever used a Korg Volca Sample, then you know how much fun pitch-modulating drum sounds can be.
More info: Organic Calfskin Kit
Addictive Drums DEMO
XLN Audio offers a generous free demo version of Addictive Drums. Yes, it has limited functionality, but there are no time limitations or reductions in sound quality.
Addictive Drums DEMO includes a single drum kit based on the Fairfax Vol. 1 ADpak. It consists of a kick drum, a snare, hi-hats, and a crash cymbal. Obviously, it’s missing a ride cymbal and toms, but the included drums sound great.
So, if all you need is a simple acoustic drum kit without any bells and whistles, the free demo version of Addictive Drums is worth considering. It’s a useful free drum plugin for rock, pop, and indie music.
More info: Addictive Drums DEMO
Monster Drum is a monstrously versatile drum plugin developed by Monster DAW. It features a huge collection of analog drums, with regular sound updates and new expansion kits.
All included drum kits are pre-mixed and ready to use in a project. That’s a convenient time-saver when starting a new jamming session in your DAW. Just load up the Monster Drum plugin and select a kit that works for your song. You can always fine-tune it later.
Another convenience is the multi-out feature that lets you route each drum element independently in your digital audio workstation’s mixer.
More info: Monster Drum
Jamstix is another interesting take on the “virtual drummer” concept. It comes in a variety of differently priced editions, one of which is completely free to download and use.
The freebie version of Jamstix offers a limited amount of velocity layers and fewer drum kits than its paid counterparts. It also lacks MIDI export, kit customizations, and several other more advanced features.
However, it’s perfectly usable as a beginner-friendly drum VST plugin. It comes with eight drummer models, several playing styles, and 200 drum samples to help you get started with music production.
More info: Jamstix
Drumgizmo is an open-source drum plugin. There are numerous acoustic drum kits that you can download. A tool for creating your own drum kits for Drumgizmo is also available.
The plugin itself is still a work in progress, but you can download a stable version for your DAW. Drumgizmo is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux.
More info: Drumgizmo
EXC!TE SNARE DRUM
Yes, I’m excited about the snare drum. That’s the best type of drum!
On a more serious note, the EXC!TE SNARE DRUM is a niche drum plugin. It lets you model an acoustic snare drum and fully customize the sound to your liking.
You can also play the plugin directly if you have a snare pad or a piezoelectric disk. Not something you’d throw on every track, but definitely helpful to have.
It would be fantastic if the developer followed up with a similar plugin for kick drums and hi-hats.
More info: EXC!TE SNARE DRUM
I reviewed Chowdhury DSP’s free ChowKick plugin back in July, and it left quite an impression.
It sounds fantastic, there’s tons of functionality built-in, and it’s fantastically laid out. I’ve used various paid kick-modeling plugins before. While some offer more profound sound sculpting possibilities, I think ChowKick’s straightforward approach and carefully curated controls are more immediately tweakable.
Don’t miss this one.
More info: ChowKick
Sitala is my drum sampler of choice – it’s lightweight, simple, and has all the controls you’re actually likely to use (unless you’re sampling your handmade cello or something weird like that). If you’re on Reaper, routing is done automatically.
It’s beyond intuitive, and while it looks deceptively simple, there’s actually a lot of functionality packed in.
Sample trimming, beat slicing, a pretty great-sounding compressor, and a Tone knob that actually adapts based on each individual sample’s pitch content.
If you already own a collection of drum kits in WAV format, a sampler like Sitala is the only drum VST plugin you’ll ever need.
More info: Sitala
Speedrum Lite is the other choice when it comes to the best freeware drum samplers.
There’s really not that much to say about Speedrum Lite that’s different from Sitala.
There’s a little more control over the Attack and Decay of each sample, as well as dedicated Lo-Pass and Hi-Pass filter knobs.
If you prefer this workflow over Sitala, however, you might want to check out the full version of Speedrum. It comes with more controls for sound shaping your samples, as well as a lot of really cool effects like distortion, compressor, transient shaper, humanizer, and more.
More info: Speedrum Lite
This is another free version of a more full-featured paid product, but I wouldn’t dare call MiniSpillage “stripped down.”
It’s actually a very impressive drum synth with more controls than I can reasonably get into here, but it’s a lot.
This free version comes with 3 of the 12 drum synth engines of its bigger brother, namely – Bass Drum, Hi-Hat, and Wood Drum. Somewhat disappointed they didn’t offer their snare engine instead of the Wood Drum to really round out the trio, but I guess you can’t give out the goods that easily.
More info: AudioSpillage MiniSpillage
DrumNet is an 8-slot drum sampler that uses AI technology to generate drum sounds. The free version offers all of the functionality included in the paid edition, apart from the ability to export AI-generated sounds.
The instrument works great as a free drum VST for use in hip-hop and electronic music. You can build entire kits from scratch and customize the sounds to fit your project.
It also includes a step sequencer that lets you create drum patterns. If you’re looking for a versatile free drum plugin that doesn’t require importing external samples, DrumNet is definitely worth a look.
I often use DrumNet as a temporary drum instrument while starting a new song. It helps me get a drum groove going. Later on, if I need custom sounds, I replace it with another drum VST or a drum sample pack.
More info: DrumNet
BPB Cassette Drums
Last but not least, our BPB Cassette Drums instrument bundle includes three different drum plugins – Cassette 606, Cassette 808, and Cassette 909.
The plugins were designed by Crimson Merry and based on drum machine sounds captured by Edgar Maguyon, Gregor Zemljic, and Reddit user Anderson303. BBPB’seditor Tomislav Zlatic resampled the source sounds from a tape recorder, adding saturation and grit.
Each drum plugin comes in three different flavors – Clean, Warm, and Hot. Clean gets you completely unprocessed raw samples, whereas Warm and Hot offer varying degrees of saturation.
More info: BPB Cassette Drums
The Best FREE Drum VST Plugins – The Conclusion
So there you go, a curated selection of very different drum VST plugins for whatever type of music you might want to use them for.
We purposefully went in and selected plugins that would complement each other and fill in any potential blind spots in your productions.
You might not need all of them, but you should definitely try whichever catches your eye.