How to Create a Guitar Backing Track

A helpful guide to producing backing tracks on your own without any expenses.

How to Create a Guitar Backing Track
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So what is a guitar backing track? In short, it's a recording that is created to help guitarists learn and practice well-known songs. This is different from a JamTrack, which is usually just a band playing a riff in a certain key and/or style.

There are no strict rules on what musical instruments should be used in a backing track, however Bass and Drums are the minimum requirements since they provide the foundation of the song.

There are three main ways to create backing tracks:
  1. Record live instruments - This is the most complicated and requires a lot of recording equipment and skill to play and record all of the instruments. If you know how to do this, you don't need this article.
  2. MIDI Backing Tracks - This is the simplest method. Just get a MIDI file from a website or convert a Guitar Pro file into MIDI, remove the guitar's MIDI part and you're done, however the sound quality sucks.
  3. Audio-enhanced MIDI Backing Tracks - Use DAWs and VST plugins to replace MIDI sounds with higher-quality digital instruments.
The third method is a good compromise between simplicity and quality, so I will focus on that. This is a guide for total beginners, so I am trying to make it simple by just adding bass and drums, but after you learn the basics, you will realize that you can do a lot of cool things to make awesome backing tracks.

Step-by-step

A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation, which is a fancy word for a PC- or Mac-based computer program used to make recordings. VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology, which is basically a digital instrument or effect that you can play and edit in the DAW. There are links below on if you still need more information about what these are or to learn how to add a VST plugin to your DAW.

The DAW used in the example below is FL Studio 12 and the plugins are Addictive Drums 2 and Broomstick Bass. You can get free trials for this software following the links below.

Here I start with how to get a MIDI file from .gtp file however if you already found a MIDI file for the song you need, you can move to Step 2.

Step 1

First, you need to export midi file from .gtp

In order to do that, open .gtp file and click FILE=> EXPORT=> MIDI.

Save the .midi file in any directory.

Step 2

Open your DAW. As example I use FL studio 12.

Click FILE=> IMPORT=> MIDI. Now, select your MIDI file.


Step 3

You'll see the .gtp tracks in Channel rack. Now, let's "breathe life" into them.


Step 4

Start with the drums, right-click the drums track and then click REPLACE=> ADDICTIVE DRUMS 2.


Step 5

The Addictive Drums window will open. Sometimes drums will stop playing after we add a VST Plugin.

In order to make them play again and this time more realistically click "?" => Map Window in top right corner.

Step 6

Select GM as your Map Preset.

Now the drums should sound more "live."

Step 7

Now to bass tracks. Everything is done exactly the same way.

Right-click the bass track in Channel Rack and then click REPLACE=> BROOMSTICK BASS.

Step 8

Set "Manual" instead of "Auto."

Step 9

Again, it's possible that Bass will no longer play after the replacement or it will sound too low or only some notes won't sound.

In order to fix this, open the bass track's Piano roll.


Select the entire bass track by pressing CTRL+A.


Move the bass track one octave higher by pressing CTRL+↑

You may need to do it almost always if a song is played in a lowered bass tuning, especially if that's a 5-string bass.

Step 10

Now you have a great backing track giving you a cool rhythm pattern to play along with!

That's how all the midi tracks in FL Studio are brought to life.

And the final part is to save all this stuff. Click FILE=> EXPORT=> MP3 FILE.


Step 11

Click Start button and wait for the rendering to finish.

Useful Links

1) Massive guitar backing track archive where you can share your work and find backing tracks for literally thousands of songs: GuitarBackingTrack.com

2) What is DAW?

Here's a list of popular DAWs which provide free trials or demo versions which are enough to create a backing track the same way as shown in the guide.
3) What is VST?

You can get free demo versions of plugins used in the guide.
4) How to add VST into DAW?




5) Here's me rocking with the backing track I created and Ultimate Guitar Tonebridge app!

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    TheWallrus
    thank you, this was exactly what i had been curios about. Peace, Love and Light.
    SCArnoldos
    Personally I use GarageBand for drums and my keyboard for bass and other synthed instruments and all that in Audacity
    moore4less
    YOUR A VERY SMART PERSON, I JUST STARTED USING TONEBRIDGE APP FOR GUITAR ITS AWESOME!! DO YOU KNOW HOW THERE GETTING ALL THEM SOUNDS ??
    logicbdj
    Or if you buy Band-in-a-Box you can create a backing track of any music genre in any key and in hundreds of styles within a few minutes.
    Soundwash22
    QUESTION: Is there any FREE online recording software that you guys recommend? or is it mostly crap?...