How to Use Electronic Drums in Reaper

By Mark Rutkowski

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Drum VST plugin

  • MIDI keyboard

Electronic drums can be recorded as MIDI clips.
i Drum cymbal image by Anh Trinh from

Reaper, developed by the company Cockos, is a lightweight application for processing, recording and editing audio and MIDI data. Because of its MIDI capabilities, users are able to use, record and edit electronic drums in Reaper. Reaper uses the VST plugin standard developed by Steinberg to let users take virtual electronic drums and record their sounds as MIDI data. This process allows users to edit their drum data and create full-fledged performances in their projects.

Install any desired drum VST plugins into Reaper's plugin folder. The default file path for this folder is "C:/Program Files/REAPER/Plugins/FX." Connect the MIDI keyboard to the computer, and the keyboard will automatically install any required drivers.

Open a project in Reaper. Click the "Insert" menu at the top of the screen and then click on "Virtual Instrument on New Track." Choose the desired drum VST from the list of available plugins that appears.

Arm the track for recording by pressing the "R" button next to the track name in the main window. Press the "Record" button on the transport toward the center of the screen. This will record any MIDI data sent by the keyboard to the drum plugin. Press the "Stop" button to end recording.