How to use FL Studio [Learn About the Piano-roll, Mixer and Pattern]

fl studio

fl studio

fl studio

fl studio

fl studio

fl studio

Are you a beginner in music production? I’m going to teach you how to use FL Studio.

Then you are in the right place. 

Today I will explain you which are the basic functions of this program, so today I will teach you how to use FL Studio.

FL Studio is an extremely complex program at the moment.

Version 12 is awesome, and it’s getting better with each version.

I would like to begin by telling you that choosing FL Studio is a wise choice.

Being a beginner you need an easy to use and flexible program. This one of many advantages that FL Studio has.

Learn how to use FL Studio beginning with the piano-roll

Let’s open FL Studio together and look over it’s main features.

1. Piano-roll – this is the stave where you paint your notes.

I’ve tried DAWs which were using the classic system of notation, but the one in FL Studio is much more malleable.

This is the basic notation system of the more advanced DAWs.

This is how the piano-roll looks:


how to use fl studio step 1: piano-roll

In this image you can see a scale which has numbers above.

The scale represents the length of half of a note and a full note.

Do you remember the durations of the notes and how they were represented? If not then this is the classic system:


note duration values

note duration values

In the piano-roll you can create the melodic line, the harmony and the rhythm.

Here is the place you begin creating your melody and you put the foundation of your musical project.

Don’t forget, the piano-roll is pretty much your electronic stave.

Sincerely, I prefer this notation because it’s much more flexible.

The basic stave seems much harder to use. This is just a matter of taste.

Ok, so now you have a basic idea of that the piano-roll is.

It’s very easy to understand and I believe that you got the idea.

This is the first element that you should learn how to use in FL Studio.

Now let’s move on to the next element.

I’m talking about the pattern.

It looks like a score. If the piano-roll is the stave then the pattern is the score.

Do you know what the score is? It’s a group of staves.

In other words, the pattern is made of staves, or piano-rolls.

I’ve attached an image so you can see how the pattern looks like:


how to use FL Studio: use the pattern!

If the piano-roll allows the creation of a single element, then in the pattern you can create various combinations between those elements.

As an example you can create a combination between a melodic line and a beat.

Still, FL Studio is more than that. It is a list with all the elements that you do use.

In the pattern you can have a few instruments, automations, samples, audio clips, etc.

It contains all the elements that you need in order to create a melody.

I like creating the beats in the pattern or the sequencer.

By analysing many projects I got to the conclusion that many people prefer making them this way.

This is how a beat made in the pattern looks like:


learn how to use the pattern

It’s much more easier to create a beat in the pattern.

This is how I’ve learned, and it’s much faster.

Usually in FL Studio each pattern represents a different line.

This is usually how I work. What does this mean?

It means that you keep each element separated, and when you want to combine them you do it in the play-list.

If you have 2 elements that you never want to keep apart then you can leave them on the same pattern. This is an example in which I kept 2 elements in the same pattern:

this is pattern

this is pattern

You can separate the two instruments that you have in the pattern by putting them in different patterns.

If you separate them you can use them together or separate, depending on what you need.

So, we’ve clarified another element, but in order to use FL Studio you need much more.

Now I’m going to speak about the playlist.

This is pretty much the place where you synthesise your final result.

If the pattern is made of multiple piano-rolls then the playlist is made out of multiple patterns.

But this is not all, not even close.  The patterns need to be properly placed so that your project reaches completion.

This is how the playlist that I’ve been talking about looks:

This is playlist

This is playlist

As I was saying, the playlist is the place where you can arrange the elements in the songs, but not only that, in the playlist you can combine patterns, automatisations and audio files.

In the playlist you can create the structure of your song.

Now we are going to talk about another crucial element, the mixer, and it’s very important role in the creation of your song.

The mixer in FL Studio allows a very good control over your instruments.

All your elements excepting the automatisations should be inserted on a mixer channel.

To insert a channel from the pattern in the mixer is quite simple.

Open the mixer, select one of the faders, right click then choose channel routing, which will root the selected channels to the mixer track.

You can see this in the following image:


Once you’ve inserted the channel in the mixer you have full control over it.

You can set the volume by using the faders, you can play with the stereo, and many other things.

The mixer enables you to do many things, but I won’t go into detail today.

I will explain all these things in a future article.

What other things can you do in the mixer?

You can insert many effects which will modify the sound.

Do you see that list with slots in the right side?

I’ve surrounded it with a red line so that you can notice it easier.


By clicking on any of those slots you can insert one of your available plug-ins.

As an example, you can insert an equalizer, a VST for delay or any other effect.

The mixer gives you full control over the sound, but make sure that you have the elements inserted in the mixer.

Only by doing so you have full control over your elements.

I’ve heard from some friends that the mixer is limited by having only 4 sends.

You might be asking yourself what the sends are.

They are special channels to which you can send any instrument you want.

You only need to select the channel you want to send in the mixer, then rotate one of the buttons in the send section, like in the following image, where you can see channel 6 selected and you can rotate one of the 4 highlighted buttons to link them:


Another important element in FL Studio is the browser.

It’s not a crucial one, but it helps you be more organised, thus making you work more efficient.

In the browser you can instantly have access to everything you need, from samples to score, pretty much everything you need will be within your grasp.

There was a time when I wasn’t using the browser, and I can say that it had a huge impact over the speed at which I was working.

Since I’m using the browser I could say that the necessary time to start a musical project is roughly half of what it was before.

You can find this element in the left side of FL Studio.

You can search in it all the resources that your version of FL Studio has.

This is how the browser looks like:


Have you learned how to use FL Studio?

How to export a mp3 in FL Studio

I’ve shown you some basic elements today, but it’s not enough.

I would like to present you another 2 essential elements.

Let’s say that you’ve finished a song and you want to get the mp3.

How do you do that? This is by far the easiest things to do in FL Studio.

You go in the “file”, you select export then you click on the mp3.

You can see how to do this in the following image:


Afterwards you can listen to your project as a mp3 or you can share it with your friends.

I remember when I kept asking for the opinions of my friends regarding my projects.

Moving on I would like to teach you another thing.

Choose the highest quality available when you are exporting the file.

It would be ideal to export it at 320 kb/s, but you can also export it at a lower quality.

However you should not export at less than 128kb/s, or the lack of quality will be really noticeable.

Now I would like to take a look over everything that I’ve shown you today, a little recap. To use FL Studio at a beginner level you need to know the following:

1. The piano-roll – here you can create melodic lines and harmonies

2. The pattern – here is where you can find all your instruments and where you can create beats

3. The playlist – here is the place where you can arrange your patterns, your automatisations and your audio files

4. The mixer – you use it to have full control over the sound

5. The browser – you use it to have access to all the resources of your version of your version of FL Studio.

These are the 5 primary tools used in FL Studio.

If you’ve learned them from the first day then you’ve just made your first step.

The next level is to create a melodic line, to create a loop and to make a harmony.

And another good thing about FL Studio is that many people have said that it is an extremely accessible program which can be used by everyone.

I’ve explained everything as good as I could, but if there is something that you did not comprehend then please don’t hesitate in leaving me a comment.

I’m looking forward to reading your responses, and please tell me if you encounter any difficulty while using FL Studio and I will do my best to help you overcome it.

Test your imagination, create a melodic line, even if you believe that it doesn’t sound right.

The truth is that everybody started from zero knowledge and learned everything gradually.

You can’t learn how to use FL Studio in one day. You need a lot of time and patience. 

Keep trying to learn how to use FL Studio!

Good luck finding your inspiration!


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