I'm trying to learn how to beatbox.

I've read this article, and I managed to learn how to do snare, hi-hat and others, but I can't find out how to make a decent bass imitation.

Here is what that article teaches:

Practice the classic kick drum {b}
The simplest way to make the classic kick drum is to say the letter "b."
To make it sound louder and punchier, you need to do what is called a lip oscillation. This is where you let air vibrate through your lips - a bit like "blowing a raspberry." Once you can do this, you make a very short lip oscillation. Make the b sound as if you are saying b from the word bogus. This time, with your lips closed, let the pressure build up. You need to control the release of you lips just enough to let them vibrate for a short amount of time.

I'm trying to say b, and the voice incorporated with the letter b blocks me from doing anything. I could do it with p, but not with b, can you from your experience tell me what I'm doing wrong?

  • I don't think the writer really wants to ask for a voiced bilabial stop. The reason they're writing b rather than p is that the latter tends to be spoken "harder", with more lips tension, which is clearly not what you want here. I suppose most people don't know that the phonetically correct distinction is voiced vs. voiceless, rather than loose vs. tight. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 19:02
  • @leftaroundabout, you sound like you know what you're talking about, but I don't think the article even uses the phrase "voiced bilabial stop" anywhere. Is that the technical term for what the quoted section in the question is instructing?
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 19:32
  • 3
    @AsianSquirrel: voiced bilabial stop is just the phonological term for what most people would normally call "the b sound". But I think what the quoted text instructs is actually a voiceless bilabial stop, i.e. "p sound". Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 7:20
  • @leftaroundabout Exactly what I've been thinking. So are you a beatboxer? What's the true method a voiced bilabial stop or voiceless one? Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 14:11
  • Seems to me the "true method" would be whatever sounds good. Try recording yourself doing each one, and listen to the results and figure out which one you like best! Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 20:07

4 Answers 4


I don't believe you are meant to actually voice the letter. You are supposed to start with the 'b' as if you are about to say 'b' as in 'bogus' with an exaggerated movement (as if you are mouthing the letter so that someone 50ft away without sound can tell it is a 'b' instead of a 'p'). What happens after is something more like a rapid depressurization: blow it out while trying to hold the mouth form you started with.

This gets you the percussive effect. The actual bass note is going to be a humming noise in your throat and chest.

I imagine something akin to humming a low note while playing a tuba (which I have never played).


Start by repeating the phrase "boots and cats" over and over. It's essentially the kick and snare alternated with hi-hats on the upbeat. You can search youtube for multiple examples.


Full explanation - You already know how to make the (b) sound. Build up pressure in your lips, but don't use your voice at all. Make a slight buzz with your lips (less than 1/10th of a second most of the time). The reason we use (b) instead of (p) is because (p) sounds like a snare in most cases, especially the (pf) snare. (b) sounds much more like a kick drum than (p) does. I hope this helped.

  • I think I'm getting it. So actually you're blowing out much more air than p, is that correct? There problem is I quickly run out of air and my lungs become tired. Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 15:23
  • Also, how do you make two consequent bases, find that really difficult to achieve. Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 15:28


This guy has a decent video explaining the kickdrum. To add the extended bass to it, push your lips slightly forward and keep connecting your breath from your lungs to the initial sound you make from your lips. I think it's important to keep in mind that the kickdrum only requires pressure to be built up from your lips. If you don't have the sound down yet, think about the position your lips would make if you just tasted something sour. With lips tightly pressed together, once you push the pressure out, you should make the sound.

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