Plugins, Sounds & Presets

The BEST Way to Add Drum Kits to GarageBand (iPhone/iPad)

Written By : Andrew Siemon

GarageBand has improved upon their sample libraries and drum kits a lot over the last few years. But let’s be real, we’re all looking for new sounds at times to boost creativity. I’ll show you how to add drum kits in 2 ways.

To add drum kits to GarageBand iOS, drag and drop all of your individual audio files (ideally as .wav), into the “GarageBand File Transfer” folder. Open the App and then the Sampler. Click “Bark” > Import > and then Files. Choose your sample, click the blue download button, and then press Record.

How to Add Drum Kits with the GarageBand Sampler

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It’s important to note that it’s best for you to have the “Files” Application which you can download for free from the App Store. Every iOS user should have this app.

As a demonstration, I’ll show you the process for adding a specific drum kit – Marshall Beats’ Supreme Cigarettes Drum Kit – which you can download here. The same rule applies for other kits. 

1) Download the Drum Kit from the Link

i) Downloading the Drum Kit.jpg
Download it and then the best place to find it is in “Recents.”

I usually move it to “On My iPad” shortly after because I hate when things get moved to the iCloud by mistake.

After I know where it is for sure, I’ll get ready to send it to a folder especially made for music production files and audio samples.

The ZIP File for the Drum Kit
My files are a bit of a mess, but you get the idea.

2) Drag the File to “On my iPad”

A) Select the File and Move It To Your Music Production Folder

A) Select the File and Move It To Your Music Production Folder
Move the folder like so.

You could simply drag the compressed file directly to your “GarageBand File Transfer” folder to expedite the process.

However, I think it’s prudent to have a separate folder where all of your music production samples and files are stored.

B) Unzip the File

B) Unzip the File
Keep in mind that GarageBand prefers working with individual audio files, rather than folders.

C) Open the Drum Kit Folder

If you try to get it to import an entire folder, GarageBand won’t accept it. The 3rd party sampler I like allows for this though, which I’ll show you how to use in a minute.

D) Go Into the Folders and Choose Part of the Kit, ie, 808

D) Go Into the Folders and Choose Part of the Kit, ie, 808 .jpg
As I just explained, this part’s important because using the folder isn’t going to work. You have to get the actual files and bring them into the GarageBand File Transfer folder.

And why the “GarageBand File Transfer” folder? The iOS operating system, particularly GarageBand, just seems to like it this way.

After you’ve highlighted/selected every audio file in one folder, click the “Move” icon on the bottom right as shown above.

E) Select All of Them and Drag Them Into “GarageBand for iOS” > “GarageBand File Transfer”

E) Select All and then Drag Them Into
Now that your audio files are pulled out of the folder and are placed in “GarageBand File Transfer,” GarageBand will retrieve them easily.

After you’ve done it with one part of the kit, go back and do it to the next part of the kit. For instance, the Hi-Hats or Snares.

3) Open GarageBand and then Navigate to the Sampler

A) Click on “Bark” or the Current Sample Title

A) Click on
If you’ve never done it before, clicking on the “Bark” is the way to begin loading into new samples.

This wasn’t the most intuitive thing for me when I first began, as I described in my other iOS sampling tutorial.

B) Select “Import”

B) Select Import
You can see that I’ve already loaded one of my samples in there. The MB 808.

C) Choose “Files” > You Can Preview the Samples Before Importing

D) Here, You Can Preview the Samples Before Importing Them
Click on the Blue download button beside the title on the right-hand side to load the sample into the Sampler.

For whatever reason, some of them will say they’re “32-bit format” and cannot be used. Just ignore this prompt and load them in anyway.

32-Bit Format
The files should work even though you may get this prompt.

.wav files are always the most reilable. Try to ensure your drum kits are in that format.

4) Click the Sample and then Test the Keyboard

Now that your new drum kit sounds have been added to GarageBand, you can now use them on the sampler by following the steps below.

You could choose “Save to Library” for all of them, but frankly, I think this is a time-consuming and unnecessary practice.

It makes more sense to me to simply hold them in the “GarageBand File Transfer” folder and then import the files whenever you want them on an “as-needed” basis.

5) Press Record & You Can Begin Recording Your Sample

4) Press Record & You Can Begin Recording Your Sample
If you want to edit the way your samples sound, this video shows how.

What’s annoying about the sample is that only one sound can be recorded per track. So you’ll have to load and record every single drum kit sound you want on a separate track. This video is a good demo of that.

How to Use Sitala to Add Drum Kits in GarageBand iOS

Personally, I hate the GarageBand Sampler and I much prefer using the Sitala Sampler for a couple of reasons.

The Sitala Sampler
The Sitala Sampler is amazing for filling in the gaps left by the stock GarageBand sampler.

What makes the Sitala sampler special in GarageBand’s case is that you can create and then save your own drum kit to use for later.

Sure, you can do it without Sitala, but not nearly as efficiently. I start the demo for the Sitala at 04:00 in my video.

You won’t have to load each part of the kit onto a separate track like when using the stock GarageBand sampler.

It works similar to the stock Drums (as shown in the following image):

Drum Pads in GarageBand iOS (Mobile, iPad, iPhone)
Explained differently, the Sitala will work a lot like the regular Drums in GarageBand, in the sense that you’ll be able to finger drum all of your custom drum sounds on one interface.

To add drum kits using Sitala, follow the steps listed below:

1) Download And Install Sitala On Your Device

1) Download Sitala
Just download it from the App Store like you would for any other application.

2) Launch GarageBand iOS

As you normally would.

3) Swipe Left Until You Get To “External”

The External option in the GarageBand iOS interface
It’s a 3rd party plugin, so you’ll want to navigate to the External interface as shown here.

4) You Should Now See Sitala Listed Here

4) Click on the Sitala Logo
Click on it once you see it patiently waiting for you.

5) Launch Sitala And It Will Load With 16 Ready-To-Play Pads

5) Launch Sitala And It Will Load With 16 Ready-To-Play Pads
And here you go. You’ve got a fully featured sampler with the MPC-style drum pads, a few more parameters, and the ability to save custom kits neatly and efficiently.

I love this thing. It works great.

6) To Load Your Custom Kit Tone, Click On A Pad

6) To Load Your Custom Kit Tone, Click On A Pad To Choose It
Simply select your pad and it’ll light up like this.

7) Click the Box Icon on the Bottom-Left of the Sample View Screen

7) Click On The Box Shaped Icon On The Bottom Left Side Of The Sample View Screen
This little icon is how you bring up all of your files.

And what’s so perfect about the Sitala is that it allows you to pull samples from whatever folder is on your device. You don’t need to do all of this nonsense with the “GarageBand File Transfer” folders.

It just works the way it’s supposed to.

8) Click Your Music Production/Sample Folder

8) Click Your Music Production/Sample Folder
Select “Add Location” and then you can navigate to where your samples are.

9) A Sample Browser Will Open in Sitala’s Directory

9) A Sample Browser Will Now Be Opened On The Sampler
I give mine a clear title so it’s easy to find like so.

i) Select the Folder Where Your Samples Are

i) Select the Folder of Your Kit .jpg
After you’ve selected it, it’ll appear in your folder and then you can go into it.

ii) Choose Your Drum Piece

ii) Choose Your Drum Piece
Select one of your drum pieces. I usually start in the order in which they appear.

iii) Select the Specific Sample

iii) Select the Specific Sample
I’ll start with the first one just because.

And then it’s loaded.

10) Repeat the Process for Each Part of the Kit

10) Repeat the Process for Each Part of the Kit
Then you can add your specific piece in whatever location you’d like.

It’s great too because you also have 16 options, ie, a fully-featured drum kit with basically nothing missing. Low toms, mid toms, floor toms, several hi-hats. You have enough space for it all.

11) Click the Three Dots & Then Choose “Save” & Give It A Name

11) Click the Three Dots & Then Choose Save & Give It A Name
Again, the ability to save custom kits super easily like so is amazing.

Essentially, you’ll have the ability to create and then save a kit which’ll act like a preset. When you want to use the same kit, you can just open it for next time.

The Sitala gets a 10/10 from me so far.

It’s worth mentioning that you get a few presets to try out after buying the plugin. And they’re really good.

They are the following:
1) Clean 808
2) Future Retro Pop
3) Hip-Hop Ultra

With all that said and out of the way, there’s a chance you got lost in the setup somewhere along the way. Here are 3 super common troubleshooting solutions. The biggest problem is usually the “greyed out audio” issue.

3 Troubleshooting Tips for Importing Drum Kits in GarageBand

There are 3 reasons why you’re running into the “greyed out” audio file problem. I’ve discussed this before albeit in a different context.

1) Your Files Are in the iCloud Drive

You’ll recall earlier that I said it’s best to make sure your audio samples are stored locally. Maybe some people can get away with having samples on in their iCloud, but I prefer to just store them on my device.

You could download them from the Cloud and then store them on your device temporarily, however, I have 1TB on my iPad so I just store them locally. I bought the upgraded 1TB 16GB iPad for a reason.

2) The File Format Isn’t .wav (WAVE)

Another issue is that you’re trying to use a file format that GarageBand, for whatever reason, doesn’t play nicely with. I prefer .wav because they’re the most reliable and versatile.

There are cases where GarageBand acts weird toward MP3s, and simply changing the file extension to .wav will make GarageBand accept them. I’ve discussed this in another article.

3) Trying To Import A Folder Instead of A Collection of Files

Finally, you want to import a collection of audio files, taken out of the folder, rather than the folder itself. GarageBand doesn’t like to play with folders. It’s one of the reasons why I like Sitala so much.

Thoughts or questions? Let me know what you think about adding drum kits to GarageBand iOS in the comments below.

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Andrew Siemon is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to all things music, including music production, music theory, recording, and how to use the most popular DAWs. Starting out as a metal guitarist, Andrew has since moved into other areas of music production including hip-hop and fusion

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