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6 Excellent Tambourine VSTs With Realism (Free and Paid)

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Rhythmic elements like tambourines generally are added near the end of a song’s production. While we can record tambourine parts the old fashioned way, sometimes it’s beneficial and more efficient to use virtual instruments for auxiliary percussion.

Tambourine VSTs provide producers with readily available grooves in a drag-and-drop fashion. Today we are looking at six of the best tambourine VSTs you can utilize in your productions.

Have an interest in virtual drums and percussion? Be sure to check out my other roundups:

If not, be sure to read on. Let’s get into the list.

1) Sharine

Sharine is the ultimate tambourine VST, giving you many different types, as well as shakers.

The plugin runs inside of Kontakt. You need the full version if you don’t want the demo mode to time out (15 minutes).

Included are eight shakers and four tambourines recorded with three microphone positions.

Choosing an instrument is as simple as clicking on them.

Sharine’s shakes are ultrarealistic. I also love that the rhythms sound “humanized;” they’re somewhat unbalanced and “less-perfect” sounding — a plus.

2) David Oliver’s Rhythmic Odyssey by SoundIron

David Oliver is a well-known percussionist and composer who has worked on numerous award-winning films and TV shows.

While not a standalone tambourine VST, Rhythmic Odyssey is a loop-bassed percussion instrument that allows you to step into David Oliver’s world of percussion.

The library contains 100 percussion track loops with everything from traditional ethnic arrangements to driving “Hollywood” percussion grooves.

3) Spectrasonics Stylus RMX

Stylus RMX has been my “go-to” for years when it comes to tambourines and other textured percussion instruments. The library is massive and high-quality.

Included in Stylus is a massive 14GB core library with nearly triple the sounds of the original Stylus. There are 500 multi grooves and 250 kits.

The ease of use is another point: I love that you can drag and drop MIDI clips from Stylus into your digital audio workstation.

The only downside to Stylus is that it’s overused in commercial productions. I’ve heard many presets in indie films and television commercials.

I think this okay, though, since most people listening to your music will not have a clue!

4) IK Multimedia Cinematic Percussion

Again, Cinematic Percussion from IK Multimedia is not a standalone tambourine VST, but it does include them. Many percussion libraries will function this way, so be sure to keep that in mind.

IK’s Cinematic Percussion is “a producer’s treasure chest of sounds, loops, and patterns.” The library contains the actual instruments used in “Argo,” “Godzilla,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Iron Man,” “Watchman,” “300,” “The Matrix,” and many others.

If you need lots of great-sounding percussion in addition to a tambourine VST, check out Cinematic Percussion.

5) Versilian Studios Miscellania II (Free)

Miscellania II is a free percussion sample pack from Versilian Studios. In addition to two tambourines, you get many more instruments:

  • Glockenspiel
  • Nepalese Bells
  • Triangles
  • Agogo Bells
  • Bell Tree
  • Brake Drum
  • Finger Cymbals
  • Roto Tom Rim
  • Sleighbells
  • Spoons loop
  • Tuba Mouthpiece Hit
  • Wind Chimes

The pack is licensed under CC0; feel free to use it in your commercial works.

6) Vintage Toy Tambourine from SampleHero (Free)

Here is a sample company I just discovered today: Sample Hero! The Vintage Toy Tambourine is an excellent free option for those looking to add rhythm and pulse to a production.

The sound is a bit more trashy, which I do love. Why not have another color in your sonic palette?

Things to consider when choosing virtual instruments

Kontakt may be a requirement

Many times, plugin developers use the Kontakt sampler. While it is a popular option, many young producers and composers don’t have Kontakt or the money to shell out for it. ($399.00).

Make sure you pay attention when buying virtual instruments as they are often non-refundable.

If you only have the free Kontakt Player, check if the plugin works with it and won’t time out.

For VIs without a Kontakt license, the free Kontakt Player will stop functioning after 15 minutes, and you’ll have to reload it, which can be annoying.

How to use Kontakt instruments for free

An easy workaround is to write your MIDI on a different instrument.

Once finished, load up the free player, find your preset or instrument, drag the MIDI over, and print the clip.

It’s not the ideal solution, but it does work if you’re trying to use the free version of Kontakt effectively.

Try recording it yourself

Even with all the most excellent libraries and samples in the world, sometimes you must record it yourself.

I find that often tracks can feel stale when using all programmed instruments and having a layer of human-played tambourine can work wonders.

If you don’t have access to a tambourine or a space to record one, use a VST.

Don’t go overboard

When using rhythmic elements from plugins like tambourine VSTs, it can be easy to overdo it. I used to be very guilty of this when using Stylus RMX.

Layer and experiment, but do your best to keep it simple. As a general rule of my own, I usually pull back one or two elements of production at the end, and the piece often gels better. Try doing that and see what happens on your next composition.

Have you used a tambourine VST? Which one(s) is your favorite? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment down below and share this article with your producer buddies if you’d like!

Thanks for reading.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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One Comment

  1. Amazing article. I actually use Sharine, it’s expensive, but it is top-notch for modern producers like myself.

    Thanks, Nick!


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