By Craig Anderton
Guitar Rig 4 is an extremely capable processor that can also host studio effects (like Native Instruments' Vintage Compressors) as well as guitar components. But it got its start as an amp sim, and these tips can help maximize its potential.
Enable the HI-Q button in the upper right corner to increase sound quality dramatically, especially with distortion and amp effects. This increases the power required from your CPU, but it's worth it.
Double-click on the Noise Gate knob to activate a “learn” function, and after double-clicking, don’t play your guitar for a few seconds. Guitar Rig will sense the incoming level with no playing, and set the threshold just above it.
Overloading the internal signal path produces “nasty” digital distortion, unlike the pleasing distortion created within amp modules. There are two places in the signal path where Guitar Rig can optimize levels automatically to prevent this.
Amplifier modules: Once the Input level is optimized, to prevent overloading an amp module click on the amp cabinet's Learn button, then play at the loudest possible level.
Preset Volume: The Master Volume retains its existing level when you switch presets. The Preset Volume module Learn function adjusts the Preset level (which controls the level of individual Presets) automatically for a consistent output level. As with the Amp modules, click on the Preset Volume module Learn button, then play at the loudest possible level.
Engage the Output limiter to tame any possible spikes or transients. To do this, click on the Limit button to the right of the Out meter. However, this does not substitute for proper level-setting as described above.
If a module shows a + (maximize) button, click on it to reveal the primary set of controls. If there’s also a downward arrow button, click on it to reveal additional parameters for tweak fans. The screen shot shows the top Citrus amp totally minimized, the middle module has been maximized to show the main controls, and the bottom module has been extended to show all additional parameters.
Can't play guitar and edit sounds at the same time? Show the Pre Tape Deck, record your playing, then loop what you played so you can adjust controls while you listen to your guitar. Note: Set the Play switch to “At Input” so you record the input signal, which on playback, goes through the rack effects.
TUNE TO ALTERNATE TUNINGS
In addition to Guitar, Bass, and Chromatic, the tuner provides Open D, Open G, Open A, Open E, and DADGAD tunings. Use the drop-down menu to the right of the Tuner label, located in the module's upper left.
The Metronome module has 28 different time signatures with different accents. Access them from the Metronome's “Sig.” drop-down menu.
F1: Toggles between standard and Live view.
F2: Show/hide the “sidekick” (the left section with Browser, Components, and Options).
F3: Show/hide Rig Kontrol in standard view.
F4: Hides everything except GR, and stretches it to fit the full available vertical space. This is great for Live view.
ASSIGN PARAMETER TO MIDI CONTROLLER
Right-click on the parameter, select Learn, then move the controller you want to assign (physical, or virtual—e.g., the virtual Rig Kontrol pedal). Assignments are saved with the Preset.
Under Components, open the Modifier section. The modifier called “Input Level” provides the same function as an envelope follower. Open the module, then drag one of the fields to the parameter you want to control (the screen shot shows the Pro Filter cutoff being controlled).
Use the Split component (found in the Tools section). Drag the component or components (amp, cab, or effect) for one parallel chain between the Split A and Split B sections. Drag component(s) for the other parallel chain between the Split B and Split Mix sections. The Mix section lets you pan the chains, as well as crossfade between them. In this example, two different amp/cab combinations are panned to opposite sides of the stereo field to give a wide stereo image.
Craig Anderton is Editor Emeritus of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.