How To Create A Portamento Square Wave Lead Sound

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How To Create A Portamento Square Wave Lead Sound

Portamento square wave lead sound. You have probably heard this type of lead on many trance and/or house songs. Its one of the “bread and butter” -sounds in electronic music.


Listen the audio example to get a hang of what I’m talking about (with some vibration added):

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Portamento-Square-Wave-Lead-Sound-Example.mp3]

Ok. This is how you re-create this sound using FL Studio’s 3xOsc:

1. Load 3xOsc and choose Square Wave as the shape for each three oscillators and set the Coarse Tune to 0 Semitones for each.

3xOsc Oscillator Settings For Square Wave Lead

2. Go to the MISC -tab and under Polyphony click on Porta to enable Portamento mode and tweak the Slide -knob to 0:05 (with Slide -knob you set the slide length between the notes).

Enable The Portamento For Square Wave Lead

Now, to make it vibrate, set the LFO to modulate the pitch:

3. Go to the INS -tab and from there to PITCH -subtab. Under the LFO -section, turn the AMT -knob (LFO Amount) slightly left or right from its default position (center), SPD (LFO Speed) to radically left, ATT (Attack Time) to 2/6 from left and DEL (Predelay Time) all the way to left.

Pitch Modulation Settings For Vibrato

Here’s what the knobs do:

  • AMT set the modulation amount. Delicate setting is the key for nice sounding vibrato, but of course you can use whatever setting  you want.
  • SPD set the speed of the modulation. Fast but not TOO fast sounds quite allright.
  • ATT sets the attack length in the modulation i.e., how fast or slow the modulation is fully effective after a note starts.
  • DEL adds a gap between the start of a note and when the modulation kicks in.

And finally, some ambience and echo with Reverb and Delay:

4. Assign the 3xOsc to a free Mixer track and drop Fruity Reeverb 2 and Fruity Delay 2 to its effect slot and set them like this. First Fruity Reeverb:

Fruity Reeverb Settings For Square Wave Lead

And Fruity Delay 2:

Fruity Delay 2 Settings For Square Wave Lead

Also, if you think the lead sounds too sharp or “piercing”, drop Fruity Parametric EQ 2 to the effect slot and use High Shelf filter to reduce the higher frequencies:

PEQ2 Settings For Square Wave Lead

And there you have it: portamento square wave lead sound with vibrato effect! 🙂

Watch the video below and download the FL Studio project file:

Download Portamento Square Wave Lead Sound FL Studio Project File.

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16 Comments

  1. Denise Marine on

    I just went through this tutorial and the only sound I receive is a High Pitched screeching. I watched your tutorial twice and re-read it several times, also re-checked all my knobs and effects, with the same result. Is there something I am missing? Thanks.

        • I tried to make this sound on my workstation right now and sounds as it is supposed to… Probably you are forgetting something somewhere

        • Denise,

          How does is sound when you load 3xOsc and choose square as the shape for each three oscillators and set the coarse tune to 0 semitones? Does it screech already at that stage?

          • Denise Marine on

            Yes, it does. However, I used 3xOsc for another one of your tutorials and it works fine. Maybe if I just start over and re-create it, it will work.

    • DJ Spyke on

      BTW, im gonna try panning it Left to Right to see what i get, any thoughts or ideas?

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