Guitar Rig 1.1.1
A bit like Reason for guitarists, Native Instrument’s new Guitar Rig offers a virtual rack of devices that guitar players can immediately have big fun with. As with Reason, real-world devices are emulated as software modules that can be inserted in whatever combinations you like into the virtual rack.
NI calls this a ‘modular guitar studio’ and I wouldn’t quibble much with that – this thing has everything. Need to tune your guitar? Just open up the tuning module – it can even handle open tunings. Need a metronome to play to? You got it. Want to record that magic chord sequence you just came up with?
No problem – just hit Record in the Tapedeck module. The main modules are the four guitar amplifiers. The Gratifier is based on the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Solo Head. TwangReverb is based on a ‘blackface’ Fender Twin Reverb. AC-box is based on the handwired Vox AC-30 Top Boost model, while Plexi is based on a particular Marshall JMP50 made in 1967 and, allegedly, played one night by Jimi Hendrix.
The Cabinets & Mics module emulates loudspeakers and cabinets, the positioning of a virtual microphone in relation to the speaker, and a selection of popular microphones that are typically used to record guitars. You can even choose from five possible microphone positions, including On Axis, Off Axis, Edge, Far, and Back (when using open-back cabs). There is a good selection of microphone-type emulation, too, including the Shure SM57, Sennheiser MD421, Sennheiser MD609, Neumann U87, and the Neumann M7.
Guitar Rig also has plenty of typical effects ‘pedals’ and effects that you can insert into the signal chain, such as distortion, tremolo, chorus, the rotator – based on the NI B4’s Leslie effect – and even a pedal-controlled vibrato tailpiece effect called Pitch Pedal. Unlike a standard vibrato tailpiece, all the strings stay in tune as you bend up and down, and you can use a small static shift to create some tremendous chorused effects.
The quality of the presets is going to be a big selling point for guitarists, and Guitar Rig does not disappoint. Crunchy Rotator hit the spot for me – a gutsy Twin Reverb sound with a swirling Leslie rotating speaker effect. Then I discovered Reggae Phasey and had to chill out with reggae licks for the next half hour. And when I tried Treble Spanker my guitar was in Telecaster heaven for the next hour!
You need a fast computer if you’re running Guitar Rig – it can, and will, use up lots of CPU power. The plug-in version works with any popular host software, and you get a standalone version as well. I liked lots of the presets, and I found the sound of the amps to be closer to the real thing than most of the rig’s rivals. There’s lots of competition out there, like Amp Farm and Amplitube, both of which have been very successful, but Guitar Rig definitely has the edge for me.