When using the guitar synth to try to reproduce real acoustic instrument sounds such as brass, string or woodwind parts, it is only half the battle to start with a great sound; in order to get a good result you will also need to think about how to articulate the sound convincingly. As mentioned earlier, in many ways the guitar synth player is already at an advantage compared to the keyboard player in this respect. Here are a few hints and tips: |
- Is the instrument being reproduced normally chromatic (no pitch bend or vibrato) like a piano or tuned percussion? If so, then switch Chromatic mode on if your model has one. There may be variations of the chromatic effect so experiment to see which feels best. Remember that even with the best piano sample in the world, if you play a rock guitar line with pitch bend on (chromatic off) then the result will sound like a guitar with a really terrible sound.
- If the instrument being reproduced is usually heard with rich vibrato, would you be best emulating this with finger vibrato or whammy bar vibrato, bearing in mind that finger vibrato on guitar is very unusual in that it only raises the pitch as opposed to whammy vibrato which can raise and lower it? The whammy bar is indispensable for playing effective brass lines.
- Consider the normal pitch range of the instrument. Trying to play outside this range may sound unnatural not least because the sample or otherwise may not have been designed to go into this range. Mind you, synth bass sounds can make great lead sounds too!
- Slurs can be used to great effect by the guitar synthesist when reproducing sax and brass lines. By slurring, we get a chromatic shift without re-triggering the sound, just like keying on the real think. This is difficult to do with a keyboard controller.
- How is the instrument usually tuned? Each string on the guitar synth can usually be tuned in semitone steps. When playing a Banjo sound for example, you could create a real banjo tuning, perhaps making chord shapes easier to find. You can even mute the bottom E string for a genuine 5-string feel!
- Get used to using the Hold Pedal one of the most useful features any guitar synth has to offer. Use it to seamlessly move around the fretboard. Pianists use it all the time; so can you. Build up huge string parts by playing high up the neck, holding a chord, then playing a lower part underneath the sustaining parts. Another great trick is to play and hold a synth chord, then fade up your normal guitar volume and jam over the top. Great fun!