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How to use FL Studio Ghost Notes (Step-By-Step Guide)

Ghost Notes in FL Studio are simply “ghosted” or less visible notes in the Piano Roll. They enable you to see multiple MIDI notes across instruments when working in one pattern. FL Studio Ghost Notes help you speed up your music production process by providing a complete look at all of the notes for a song.

Using Ghost Notes In FL Studio

If you’re like me, you love to save time and clicks when the creativity is flowing. Learning the power and capabilities of using Ghost Notes in FL Studio can be a great way to streamline your workflow and supercharge your creativity.

Let’s dive in and start using Ghost Notes!


What Are Ghost Notes?

Ghost Notes can be a little confusing if you’re not familiar with them. One thing to remember is, at the core, a ghost note is just another midi note.

They are helpful when you’re working in a single pattern across multiple instruments. 

What Are Ghost Notes Used For?

An excellent method of producing tracks is building up a song in a single pattern and then splitting that pattern into multiple ways. 

FL Studio will automatically split the pattern for you with a single command. 

Using Ghost Notes and a single pattern is a great way to get a song started and help you stay organized quickly. 

Ghost Notes also help you see the larger picture for your song and enable you to visualize all the melodies at once. 

A Ghost Note Example

A simple example would be one chord progression and one melody. 

It’s helpful to view the chords and then add notes to form a melody on top of the chord progression.

Ghost Notes are seen within the FL Studio’s Piano Roll and display the notes across all elements for all FL Studio Piano Roll instruments at once.

This provides an overview of all of the different musical elements in a song. 

It also presents the opportunity to create slick melodies, counter melodies, and underlying chord progressions based on the notes in one another.

What you need to start using Ghost Notes in Fl Studio

Here is what you’ll need to start taking advantage of Ghost Notes in FL Studio:

  • FL Studio 12 or higher
  • Computer with peripherals to control the FL Studio User Interface
  • Time, motivation, patience, and attention

Step by Step Instructions On How To Use Ghost Notes

Step 1. Create a new FL Project and Enable Ghost Notes

For this exercise, an Empty Project is perfect. 

Using the File Menu or keyboard shortcut, create the project.

Creating a new project in FL Studio

Once the new project is created, you’ll need to ensure that Ghost Notes are viewable and enabled

This varies depending on the version of FL Studio you’re using. 

For FL Studio users under version 20, follow the instructions on this video.

For FL Studio 20 users from within the Piano Roll, click the small arrow in the top left. (1) Then, under View, (2) you’ll see Ghost Channels and Editable Ghosts. (3)

Please make sure these are both enabled, and the checkmark appears next to them.

Enable Ghost Notes in FL Studio

Step 2. Add Instruments to Project

Add two VST instruments to the project in the Channel Rack.  Click on the ‘+‘ (1) symbol, select the instrument, (2), and preset. (3)

Two synth VST instruments will work well for this exercise.

Add Instruments to Project in FL Studio 1
Instrument One
Add Second Instruments to Project in FL Studio
Instrument Two

Feel free to use your own plugin choice here. You can simply use the first preset or find one to your liking.

Step 3. Add Pattern to Project

Navigate to the default pattern and paint four bars to the Playlist.

Click Pattern 1. (1) Then Select the Draw tool (2) or press the ‘P‘ key. 

Click once in the first bar of Track 1 to draw the initial pattern. (3)

Draw the pattern to be four bars long. Do this by clicking and dragging to the beginning of the fifth bar.

Add Pattern to Project in FL Studio

Step 4. Select First Instrument

Open the pattern, and select an instrument by clicking the small, vertical, dark gray rectangle next to the instrument in the Channel Rack.

Open the pattern and select an instrument in FL Studio

Step 5. Add Notes for the First Instrument 

Create a very basic lower-mid bassline with the first instrument. 

Right-click the instrument in the Channel Rack and select Piano Roll

Then add two notes to the Piano Roll. Each note will be two bars.

Add Notes for the First Instrument in FL Studio

Step 6. Select Second Instrument

Change the current instrument and continue working in the same pattern. 

Right-click the second instrument in the Channel Rack and select Piano Roll.

Select Second Instrument in FL Studio

Step 7. View Ghost Notes for First Instrument 

You should see the Ghost Notes in the Piano Roll for the first instrument at this point.

The Ghost Notes will be the same two notes we created in the previous step.

View Ghost Notes for First Instrument in FL Studio

Step 8. Add Notes for the Second Instrument 

Now you can create the notes for the topline or melody to accompany the mid-line notes.

Step 9. Add More Notes and Build Up the Song

Continue adding instruments and notes while seeing ALL the notes for the entire track as Ghost Notes. 

View Ghost Notes for the second Instrument in FL Studio

Use the Split Pattern command to break your single pattern apart when you’re satisfied with all of the melodies in the song, and you’re ready to begin the composition and arrangement stages.

Programming Drums With Ghost Notes

Drum programming is another activity that Ghost Notes can significantly contribute to. Each element of the beat can be seen in conjunction with the others, hats, snare drum, clap, kick, and so on.

Related Questions

First, what are ghost notes?

Ghost Notes are semi-visual MIDI notes assigned to a different instrument in a single Pattern in FL Studio. Ghost Notes provide an overview of several progressions and melodies at once. The editing between them helps assist in a faster workflow when creating songs.

Why are Ghost Notes not working?

Ensure that they’ve been enabled in the Piano Roll. This varies by version. See the instructions in step one of this article for more information.

Can Ghost Notes be used on more than one instrument?

Yes! That’s a fundamental way of using Ghost Notes in FL Studio. It helps organize and simplify the song creation process because you can see the notes for each instrument all together in the Piano Roll. You can also quickly hop between the notes of the instruments.

Do Ghost Notes work with scales?

Yes, Ghost Notes work with scales. Ghost Notes help you see scales across instruments and allow multiple scales to be played on the same instrument. You can see all the scales’ notes at once and quickly change from one to another.

Can I use Ghost Notes with chord progressions?

Ghost Notes can be used with chord progressions. They help build chord progressions and significantly help create melodies over the chord progressions in your songs.

Do Ghost Notes work with MIDI?

Yes, Ghost Notes work with MIDI. They are, in fact, just MIDI notes. Ghost Notes is a way to view MIDI notes in the Piano Roll in FL Studio.

Do Ghost Notes work with a MIDI controller?

Yes, Ghost Notes work with a MIDI controller. Ghost Notes are just regular MIDI notes. Once you’ve captured the notes from the MIDI controller into the Piano Roll on a Pattern in FL Studio, they can be viewed as Ghost Notes. Ensure Ghost Notes are enabled in the FL Studio User Interface.

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