Native Instruments Electric Sunburst Guitarist and producer RUSSELL COTTIER discovers he may not need to set up those mics and play that rhythm part
aybe you need a quick guitar part adding to your latest composition. Perhaps you have neither the patience nor the budget to hire a live session guitarist, or maybe you just really want a Les Paul sound and only have a Stratocaster to hand. Electric Sunburst is the latest in the Native Instruments’ Session Guitarist range and it is designed to bring some of that classic set-neck, single cutaway vibe to your tracks. German audio software house Native Instruments has been releasing pattern based performance instruments for some years now and the Session Guitarist line has been widely credited as one of the most realistic and intelligent virtual instruments on the market for creating guitar parts in the box. Electric Sunburst is more than just a basic sample library, it offers realistic playing styles, patterns, gear models and operates within 22 / Digital • April 2018
Kontakt 5 (full version) or the free Kontakt player. The pattern editing, sound and performance options go far deeper than this review could hope to cover but the key features are immediately obvious in the instrument GUI. Basic use is simple and intuitive to anyone who is familiar with the Native Instruments patterns performance concept. Native Instruments selected a high-end, single cutaway, dual humbucker guitar with a sunburst flamed maple cap (though they don’t mention the iconic brand name). Recordings were made with Universal Audio 610 Solo preamps and the instrument offers extensive deep sampling with an incredibly intelligent engine under the hood. Electric Sunburst comes with 154 patterns that suit a wide variety of styles and of course these can all be switched in real time, played with whatever chords or notes you choose and a whole host of expression and
editing techniques can be applied. At the top of the instrument GUI we see a box analysing the currently played chord and Impact level, which is controlled by the pitch bend parameter. It is surprising how much realism can be added with a simple push of the pitch wheel at relevant points. This appears to be more than just a volume swell, the sample selection changes to more forcefully played notes. String noise is more noticeable and of course any gain stages are driven harder providing a very realistic feel. The Sound Preset area offers 33 factory guitar amp and processing presets, of course user presets can be created and saved. Factory preset sounds are associated with specific pattern groups, with which they are intended to work best. Selecting the Link to Song control will change the sound preset as the songs (pattern groups) are cycled through below. This is a quick way of auditioning different sounds for your track, played in a stylistically appropriate manner. For modern pop-rock tracks the use of software guitars was actually quite liberating. A cleanly played and precise virtual guitar for rhythm allows a more sloppy, real guitar part to sit nicely in the mix and not take up too much space. Even the high-gain amp sims sounded well controlled due to the ability to eradicate handling noise, precise tuning and tighter timing. Towards the bottom of the GUI are tabs for Patterns, Guitar Settings, Amps & FX and Playback parameters. Patterns are grouped into selections of six to eight and as mentioned these are referred to as Songs. Key switching from C1 to G1 changes the currently playing pattern and the switching keys are of course indicated in red in the keyboard view. As with many other Native Instruments products, patterns can be changed on the fly and either synced to start on a key press or synced to host. Changes mid-pattern will of course cause the new pattern to continue playback at the relevant point allowing for some interesting combinations.
Patterns and riffs galore
There are far too many patterns mention here or even remember unless you are a regular user, so you may find yourself gravitating towards certain favourites for your chosen genre. However there are a few tools available that will help you select the right pattern that little bit quicker. The three indicator logo types will show which patterns are arpeggios, strum patterns or riffs. Of course these patterns play intelligently transposed to the chord that you have played, keeping the sounds natural and realistic within the guitar range. Double clicking a pattern will open up the Pattern Browser that allows for some clever filtering options and a rather useful Rhythm Search tool. Click Record here and play any MIDI notes in vaguely the rhythm you are looking for and the software will present you with patterns with a similar rhythm. These can be added into Custom Songs as required so you can build the ideal performance tool for composing your song or even live use.
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