In this installment of Ten Of The Best, we look at some top presets in various plug-ins that will bring your old guitar back up-to-date!
So many musicians and producers start their musical journeys by picking up an instrument collecting dust in some corner of their family homes. Most commonly, this is an acoustic guitar that hasn’t been cleaned or had its strings changed in 15-or-more years. Some time into your musical career you might pick it up again, keep it in your studio and play your favourite tracks’ chords on it before going back to the computer to your DAW, but it’s always there watching on, hauting you with the the six strings of dust…!
It’s easy to be discouraged from using this guitar in your new productions because the sound quality may be terrible, it will have strings missing and you may not have practised in a while, but there are so many effects available today that can make even the worst guitar recording sound like a top-quality synth!
In this piece, we’ll look at ten of our favourite presets of various plug-ins that do just that. To demonstrate the presets we have used an old Behringer C-2 condenser microphone to record a very old steel-string acoustic guitar. We don’t get into any complex playing and only play basic riffs, minor 7th and major 7th chords or arpeggios, as the goal is to show that even the simplest playing can yield major results (with the right effects!)
For each preset we have a ‘With FX’ and ‘No FX’ version to show the impact of the effect and we’ve also added drums in some of the examples for context. Let’s get into looking at some of the best plugins for your old guitar..!
WAVES METAFILTER – Preset: Chewy
Metafilter is one of Waves’ older effects plug-ins but it has managed to remain relevant due to its wide array of time-synced filter modulation presets that are great for all kinds of input sources. Squelchy and stereo-widening filter modulation is the cornerstone of common guitar effects like wah so there are lots of options here for our old acoustic. The Chewy preset especially sounds great with fast consecutive muted notes!
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS REPLIKA XT – Preset: Apollo
Replika XT is an absolute weapon of a delay plug-in with internal effects ranging from pitch-shifting to detailed density and ambience settings. The aptly named Apollo preset launches any input source to outer space but it fares particularly well with lo-fi noisy guitar recordings (like ours), transforming the noise into warm tape-style crackles.
WAVES SUBMARINE – Preset: Synth Bass
Guitar players have been spending hundreds of dollars on octaver pedals since the dawn of time. What these do is add one or two additional octaves below or above whichever note you are playing, making it easy to turn guitar riffs into basslines and even sub-basslines. Waves’ newer Submarine plug-in makes this easier than ever and all you need is the Synth Bass preset with the mix and -2 octave slightly dialed down to taste.
EVENTIDE H9 UNDULATOR – Preset: Ramp Sweeps
Undulator is one of Eventide’s new H9 plug-ins that are all available for demo’ing on their website. It is a hybrid plug-in that combines tremolo with delay and its presets have lots of options for modulating ambient rhythms. The Ramp Sweeps preset allows you to modulate the tremolo speed using just the master Ribbon parameter at the bottom and it sounds great with acoustic guitar’s string textures.
SOUNDTOYS FILTERFREAK1 – Preset: SlapFunkBoy
Filterfreak is all about the Threshold knob, as it allows you to have the filter open more with a louder input and open less with a quieter input. This allows for more dynamic control as well as a more realistic wah effect while strumming. The SlapFunkBoy preset is actually in the Bass category (and sounds great with bass) but it has the filter resonance and threshold perfectly set up for some funky guitar. As a note, Soundtoys’ individual plug-ins do fall into the more expensive category but the full Soundtoys 5 bundle has far better value.
WAVES MULTIMOD RACK – Preset: FX 4B dly swipe Mod
Multimod Rack’s free version has lots of useful effects presets using the internal delay, chorus and reverb units. This 4B dly swipe preset has a great ambient sound with a coming-and-going delay built for guitar arpeggios (particularly those not played perfectly!) It also adds a nice rising white noise texture. You can edit the modulation depth and rate in the M tabs and the plug-in has the option to be further enhanced with other Waves distortion plug-ins like Berzerk, Abbey Road Saturator and the MDMX Distortion modules.
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS GUITAR RIG PRO 5 – Preset: Plastiksocke
Continuing with the ambient arpeggios theme, another great option is NI Guitar Rig’s granular-esque effects presets. One of our favourites is Plastiksocke which creates fluttering textures that travel around the stereo spectrum with gradual re-pitching. Guitar Rig 6 was recently released and is an ideal choice if you’re seeking a larger library of guitar-friendly presets.
WAVES MDMX SCREAMER – Preset: PhatGuitar
$35.99 (As part of the MDMX Distortion Modules Bundle)
It’s time to get into some slightly angrier territory! This one’s more for rock or metal producers but the MDMX Screamer can instantly turn even the most peaceful of guitars into a shred machine. With the ‘PhatGuitar’ preset the secret is to place an EQ or filter before it and modulate a high pass band. As you increase the filter and only high frequencies are let through to the unit the guitar will actually start to scream! The key parameter within the plug-in is the Tone knob that you can increase if the distortion contains too much low end.
WAVES GTR STOMP 4 – Preset: DeeperPhase
$29.99 (as part of the GTR3 Bundle)
Another classic for in-the-box guitarists, Waves’ GTR Stomp plug-ins are virtual pedalboards where you can try different combinations of modeled classic guitar pedals. The phaser and drive pedals sound particularly good, as you can hear with the ‘DeeperPhase’ preset. Look no further if you seek a vintage wide phaser sound that will sound clean despite the age of your strings!
VALHALLA SUPERMASSIVE – Preset: Final Frontier
Supermassive is currently one of the most popular delay plug-ins on the market for reasons beyond its price tag and epic preset names – we’re using the ‘Final Frontier’ preset of its ‘Great Annihilator’ Mode! The delay and reverb ambience is top quality and the presets are all quite usable. Moreover, tweaking the mix, warp and feedback knobs are more than enough for full control.
The big-reverb pad of this preset sounds like our Replika XT Apollo preset from No. 2 but there is a different texture and the louder individual notes sometimes sound like choir singers. We recently looked at some more sound design with Supermassive so be sure to check that out as well!
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