Is this rock?

Kind of a tech demo. I can’t play any instrument and don’t have much of a clue of this type of music. So, please ignore the melodic randomness. I’d like to do some outrun music but one common sound I’m missing is a distorted electric guitar, something like @nachenko , who is posting here from time to time, is using nicely in some of his songs.

Here I attempted to emulate the eguitar sound by using an ample agg plugin and an amp, chorus, stereo delay, mono reverb panned to one side, dry signal panned to the other side, and a bit of stereo reverb below it. It’s kind of the right direction. To me it has a not so pleasant hollow sound and in the “squeaky parts” it’s getting too squeaky. I think that it could sound better with different eq settings. Feels too low and too high at the same time.

I also read conflicting information about the use of compressors. Some say to leave it almost untouched, some say to compress like you never compressed before, and both make sense. So all I did here was one relatively fast compressor to reduce the range by a few db. I’d assume that in outrun music you use a lot of compression to make it very even and sound more artifical, computer-driven.

You might be surprised but first thing I will check is your Midi notes velocity & notes length for this guitar sound. I also have some Ample Sound guitar plugins, they are very good but some settings are tricky and next to this I’ve noticed that depending on Midi note velocity, you can either get a perfect tone or a resonance or harsh metallic sound out of them like when you don’t hold a real guitar chord right with your fingers.

After this it’s more about keeping things under control with EQ and compression but also using level and effects sends levels automation and it might be handy to use send/return tracks for the effects you’d like to automate instead of putting them directly on the instrument channel. If you think about it, a real guitar player will consistently play with the drive & amount of effects via pedals and at the same time there’s also a lot of velocity involved while playing the notes.

Not the easiest instrument to emulate TBH, because it’s very dynamic in terms of pitch and level changes, get back to this Ample Sound AGG plugin settings, there’ a lot of controls in there that can drastically affect the sound, but again and if you don’t feel like diving more into this, play with your Midi notes velocity & length and then keep things under control and use automation.

Very cinematic and very nineties, man. I am pretty sure I can find take a scene from The Crow and fit in this music.

I use Native Instruments Electric Sunburst Deluxe for the guitars, BTW, in case you’re curious.

To be honest, I don’t know what to say about the guitars here, because I don’t know what are you aiming at. For example, I hear the amp effect a lot in your track, but I don’t know if that is good or bad.

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Hola, thanks.

@Tekalight: Yeah, the whole sound is controlled by velocity and not length and it’s a pain in the ass to draw that with a mouse. I never thought much about how an eguitar works. I assume that it would be better to automate the amp or use some pedals to modulate the sound. Because as you said, with that amp behind the guitar the sounds changes drastically even with very small changes to the midi data.

For the effects, nowadays most of time I drop an audiorack onto a track itself and then have a dry chain and separate chains for the effects. To my understanding it does the same like using the return tracks in Ableton, but for me it’s easier to keep an overview. That’s one thing I liked better in FruityLoops or back then in Jeskola Buzz, that you could connect stuff via virtual cables and see how things are routed.

@nachenko: Ideally I would be able to create a guitar rack from this that I can use in some more driving outrun/retrowave songs. Like kavinsky or when you look at your song here: Man from Space - Synthwave meets The Cure guitars just because - #15 by nachenko in the last third, if I wanted to fit in an loosly moving, distorted eguitar, what would be my approach to convert the guitar I have in my song into something that sits in your song?

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I’m not at home right now to check, but I’m pretty sure my guitars have very little processing, very little distortion, but a lot of chorus, then just a bit of reverb. I’m not sure which chorus, though, it could be Electric Sunburst own chorus, or Blue Chorus by Brainworx. Not a big fan of Brainworx, but this chorus effect is very very pleasant to my ears. It’s the same chorus effect included in Oberhausen.

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Yes you can do that as well but it’s something I would rather use when simply layering sounds in order to thicken them or get something sounding more wide. I find that you have more controls using returns effects tracks, first you can automate your sends amount to the return track(s) and I find more visual to add effects on the return track(s) than inside a new chain that you have to open each time. Doubling the chain with the full instrument can also be resources consuming sometimes and in the end you have only one channel output that you can control.

To keep things more visual & get even more control for post-processing the output of the return track(s) what I often do is to create a group from my dry instrument and then add audio track(s) inside this group and set the return track(s) output(s) to those audio track(s) input(s) inside the group. Your audio track have to be set to “in” to get the signal out.

You have control of the sends, control on the return track(s) and control on the wet signal(s) thanks to those audio track(s) in the group, it’s more easy to visualize & write your automation and you also have final control on the group itself to blend everything together and eventually use automation again on the group if needed.

Well it’s a question of workflow and preferences I guess, Live is quite flexible for that. I never got to use FL Studio TBH, I only have a demo version to test things out, never really like the interface & workflow. I’m slowly trying to use & learn Bitwig Studio these days, the modulations possibilities are just insane with this DAW and the modular environment “The Grid” where you can create your own sounds & effects patches is quite impressive too but it takes quite a long learning curve I believe.

@kuchenchef @nachenko

Out of curiosity I headed over the main site on the tutorials page and typing in “guitar” in the search field ( using the magnifier icon on the top-right page ) leads to interesting results in the “Videos” section. There are 2 vids from the Midnight, 2 vids from WNTER titled “ambient guitar” and “granular guitar” and a bunch of other interesting results.

Might be interesting to see how those producers are dealing with guitar sounds in their productions.

Confirmed, @kuchenchef, my guitar sound has the following Guitar Rig settings:

Doubled guitar.

Amp, cabinet. Not a big influence in sound here. Just giving the thing some weight. Very gentle distortion during the Amp stage, very soft.
Old Chorus - THIS IS THE ONE that has the most impact on the sound.
Reverb, Echo - Echo is esing a old preset, it adds some instability to the overall sound.
Compressor. It flattens the dynamic, so the reverb, echoes, etc are much much prominent now.

Hope it helps.

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@nachenko: Awesome! I just checked my plugin folder and for some reason I have Guitar Rig installed, but never used it. I’ll play around with those settings. Muchas gracias.

@Tekalight: I tried that audio channel technique once but something wasn’t working right. God knows what I did. It was when I had just made the switch from FruityLoops. Thought then that you are not supposed to do this in Ableton and never tried again. I have to check again. It would make the process so much easier because now with things like having groups within groups it’s hard to understand the mechanics of a project in a one view. Sometimes I revisit old projects from a year or longer ago to see if I can do things better now and then I look at this thing and spend an hour on trying to understand what’s going on. Ideally somebody would program a hybrid between Jeskola Buzz (or Psycle) and Ableton Live. Creating the synth/effect setup was almost like drawing a picture.

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Hey @kuchenchef , I stumbled upon this article on virtual guitars in Native instruments blog. I don’t know if it will help you, but I think it’s worth a read.


Sorry for the later answer and thank you very much for the article. I also played around with the guitar rig you showed me a bit earlier, and things really go better, although I still struggle with making that instrument fit into a track. Also what I recognized is that it helps to understand how a guitar is played. Things like it being more likely to be in G major than in G minor or that guitar players usually don’t play that many notes, probably because it kind of destroys all the sound goodness created by the effects when you are constantly feeding new material to them.