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Virtual Guitarist doesn’t do all that widdly-widdly single-note-soloing stuff, but it does do lots of the strumming and picking rhythm patterns that can be even more difficult to emulate using synthesizers or samplers.
It comprises two VST Instruments – one for acoustic and one for electric guitar. Each has a stylish and relevant interface. For example, the Electric Virtual Guitarist controls look like the knobs on a guitar-effects pedal. There are 13 preset Electric Players and 14 preset Acoustic Players. Each of these preset players – or styles – has eight variations that you can switch between at the top left of the plug-in window. Using the various knobs and switches, you can set the playing characteristics for a shuffle or to have tight or loose timing. Also, the dynamics and decay can be controlled. You can also add effects such as track doubling, increase the stereo width, cut or enhance the low frequencies on the acoustics, switch the (virtual) pickups, or add presence on the electrics. Fret noise – to make things sound even more authentic – can also be added.
Virtual Guitarist makes extensive use of RAM for playback of samples, so it’s light on CPU usage – but you do need lots of RAM. Each instance of the Virtual Guitarist instrument that you load into a host application needs additional memory. If there’s not enough RAM allocated to the application, additional Players simply will not load correctly.
On the Setup page, the Chord Setup buttons offer MID, ECO or XXL settings. The XXL setting provides the full set of variations. With the Acoustic Traditional Player the XXL setting needs a whopping 167MB of RAM. Similarly, the Electric Whacko Player needs 138MB of RAM. So, to use both of these at the same time, an additional 305MB of RAM is needed for the host application. If you don’t need a full set of chords, select one of the less memory-hungry modes, MID or ECO, which have fewer variations. For example, the Folk Acoustic ECO setting required only 20MB of RAM and the Energy Electric ECO setting needs only 38MB.
The Acoustic styles include some convincing folk finger-picking and arpeggio styles, along with typically strumming and boogie chords, and lots more. Similarly, the Electric styles include popular muted fifths, heavy chords and wah-wah styles. Most of these sound very believable – especially when buried in a mix and used as colours in an arrangement. But there’s still a mechanical aspect that a real guitar player will never produce.
Min specs: PowerPC G3/500MHz; 100MHz bus; 256MB RAM; 1.6GB hard-disk space; Mac OS 9.x; Cubase VST 5.1, Cubase SX, Nuendo or any VST 2.0 compatible host application.