I’ve recently started my 5th trimester of SAE’s Bachelor of Audio. In this unit AUS230, I’ll be learning mastering, advanced studio production and sound design among other things. Recently I have revisited Native Instruments’ sampler plugin, Kontakt after learning the basics of it in my 3rd trimester. For a group task, we have to build a chromatic Kontakt instrument spanning two octaves and about three velocity layers. For some reason, we chose the sound of blowing beer bottles four our instrument. To help us execute our own Kontakt instrument, I will be reviewing a Kontakt instrument to see how others have done it. Hence I have decided to review Kontakt’s “Rock Guitar” instrument, which is part of Kontakt’s Factory Selection (free to download).
First of all, the GUI does not look exactly like a real guitar. However the wood look (which is on all of the band section in the factory selection) does give a traditional feel to it. It is easy to navigate, and especially if you are a guitar player, the labels on each knob provide a good idea as to what each knob does.
Next, I’ll analyse the sound. Unfortunately I downloaded the Kontakt Player for free and did not realise I would be unable to look under the hood of this instrument. However, I will still be reviewing its capabilities by playing it, looking at the different effects, and taking note of what I hear.
The instrument spans five octaves (from C1 to C#5). Upon using my keyboard, I also noticed this instrument has three velocity layers; one short, one a bit longer, and a long one. Like a real guitar, it has a pickup knob, which also allows access to many different timbres. When you turn the noise knob, the guitar has a release which sounds like a muted guitar and goes up in volume, this sound adds to the realism of an electric guitar.
The sampler also has three master effects; reverb, cabinet and an EQ. In addition, it also has an instrument effects rack, which with a compressor switch, a modulation knob which includes a wah pedal and some distortion knobs, can help shape the sound of the instrument. It also has a solo switch for monophonic sounds, which can be useful when constructing guitar leads.
For further shaping of the sound, there is an options tab (which appears on all band instruments). Instantly what strikes out at me is the randomize section. By subtly altering pitch and volume, you can create slight variations in pitch which can help simulate the playing of a real guitar. The velocity curves can also help with the simulation by affecting which sample layer is played at which velocity. Finally there’s the tuning section which in my opinion, works well after using the randomize section.
Overall I think the rock guitar instrument does a good job of emulating a real electric guitar instrument. What I like about the instrument is the attention to detail. One thing I have noted is that the choice of samples have been carefully selected so that the instrument emulates the real thing. Even the effects help add to the realism, especially the cabinet which is modeled after actual guitar cabinets (similar to NI’s plugin Guitar Rig 5).
As a result, analysing this instrument has given me ideas on how my group can construct ours. The key seems to be providing a user-friendly interface while adding options that enhance the experience of playing that instrument.