Realistic Classical Guitar Ableton Live Instrument
As a guitarist, I’ve always been a bit let down by virtual instruments and sample collections that attempt to recreate guitar playing. There are certainly some cool physical modeling virtual synths available, and while they are capable of some pretty interesting sounds, I wouldn’t ever think of them as comparable to the real thing. Even sampled instruments have come across as mechanical and robotic. I wanted to change this.
The Classical Guitar Ableton Live Pack is an extremely realistic set of Ableton Live Instrument Racks built from 250 samples of my nylon string guitar. It’s designed to pick up on the subtleties of tone and dynamics that an actual guitar player is capable of. And because it is controlled with MIDI, you can create guitar parts that would require the skills of the most accomplished professional session musicians.
Ableton Live Pack
Extremely realistic nylon-string guitar Ableton Live Instruments. Detailed and dynamic to capture the nuances of the real instrument, down to the finger noises.
What Make It Sound So Realistic?
Lots of Samples
I sampled the notes EFGABCD at every octave my guitar is capable of playing. This ensures that there is minimal time stretching of the samples for a natural sound. In total, the Classical Guitar Instrument has 250 samples.
Lots of Dynamics
One of the key components to this instrument is its dynamic range. When a guitar string is plucked with varying force, there are more than just volume differences. The tone also changes dramatically. To solve this, I sampled all the notes at three different playing strengths and mapped those strengths to the velocity of incoming MIDI notes. That means that light playing triggers the softer plucks, moderate velocities trigger plucks of middle intensity, and heavier playing triggers the most aggressively plucked notes. As a result, when you play the Classical Guitar Instruments, softer velocities are a bit duller and quieter, while higher velocities are louder and brighter with more harmonics.
Lots of Note Variation
None of this matters if the same samples are triggered for each note. Every time a guitar string is plucked it sounds a little different. I managed to replicate this by sampling each note three times at each velocity. Those notes are triggered randomly. So every time you play a note with the Classical Guitar Instrument, you trigger one of 9 possible samples. Even if you are only playing within one of the three velocity ranges, you will trigger one of those three samples at random. This recreates the subtle variations of real guitar players, and prevents a repeating note from having that unrealistic “machine-gunning” effect.
As a guitarist moves his/her hand across the fret board, it creates squeaks and noises. So I used 25 samples of finger noise and programmed them to sound when you release notes on your MIDI keyboard. This little touch does wonders to bring the instrument to life. Of course, in a recording situation, it would be ideal for the guitarist to minimize these noises, so you get two Macro Controls to control the finger noise. The first affects the probability of finger noise. A setting of 1 yields absolutely no finger noise, while 10 produces finger noise after nearly every note. There’s also a control for the finger noise volume. These two Macro Controls allow you add in just the right amount of finger noise to your guitar tracks.
There are certain guitarists you can recognize just by their use of vibrato. Guitarist create vibrato by wiggling the string rapidly under their finger. You can create vibrato with the Classical Guitar Instrument with aftertouch. While holding down a note, changing the pressure with which you hold the key or pad down will create vibrato. This works extremely well with Push, and gives your playing another level of expressiveness.
Macro Controls to Customize Your Guitar Sounds
The Classical Guitar Instrument has 8 very useful Macro Controls that will help you perfect the sound of your guitar parts.
Dynamix- affects the difference in volume between lower and higher velocity notes.
Release Time- determines how quickly a note will die out after you release it. (This instrument is a lot of fun with a sustain pedal!)
Tone- adjusts the high frequencies of the instrument. Below 64 creates mellower notes, above 64 adds brightness.
Finger N. Freq.- determines how often you'll hear left-hand finger noise after releasing a note.
Finger Noise- Adjusts the volume of the left-hand finger noise.
Reverb Dry/Wet- Adjusts the Dry/Wet level of the Reverb.
Reverb Time- Adjusts the length of the Reverb.
Room Size- Adjusts the room size of the Reverb.
The Reversed Classical Guitar
This Reversed Classical Guitar Instrument Rack is nearly identical to the normal Instrument Rack except that the samples are all reversed. When played, each note starts from silence and slowly creeps in until it abruptly ends at the original note's attack. It’s a beautiful, almost haunting sound that can add some exciting textures and melodies to a track. The video below features both Classical Guitar Instruments played on Push 2.
See the Classical Guitar Instruments in Action
Normally, I like to keep my videos to just a couple of minutes, but in order to discuss all of the minute details of this instrument, my walk-through video clocks in near 15 minutes. I think it really covers what the instrument is capable of and is packed with some great tips on building realistic instruments in Live. But I know how short our attention spans are for online videos (I get uneasy about any video over 4 minutes!), so I created a few short demos of the Classical Guitar Instruments being played on Push 2.