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Writing rock/pop guitar parts on keyboard


rangefinder

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Hi all,

 

Apologies if this topic has been covered -- I tried a search and couldn't find anything.

 

What (if any) are the issues in writing guitar parts using a keyboard/synth/MIDI/DAW/etc? eg simulating a guitar.

 

I'm guessing there are two main ones:

1.) Writing riffs/chords that are impossible to play

2.) Getting some kind of reasonable tone/feel to a guitar line

 

Any advice on these issues, or other pitfalls I'm likely to encounter? Or should I just forget the whole idea?

 

To give some context, I am a vocalist and classically-trained keyboardist, but have never played a guitar in any meaningful sense. That said, I've done some research on guitar theory and techniques and can "speak the language" to some extent (e.g., hammer-on, power chords, drop D, etc.). And, of course, I've been a long-time "active listener" of guitar parts.

 

The goal I've set for myself is to make some original demos in Garageband that are close enough to a finished product to give a listener a decent sense of what the "real" song would be. I will record the vocals live, everything else will be "in the box" simulated instruments, using my synth as a MIDI controller. It seems to me that guitar (esp. lead guitar solos) will be the toughest instrument to replicate, which is why I'm making this post.

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That's a tough one. Anything you do is going to be cheesy. I think the best you can is go with a sound that isn't trying to pretend it's a guitar. Make it an overdriven gnarly ass keyboard. But faking guitar achieves the opposite of your intent. You're trying to get some balls into the track and only succeed in making it sound limp.

 

You know how many guitar players there are around? Team up and do it right.

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That's a tough one. Anything you do is going to be cheesy. I think the best you can is go with a sound that isn't trying to pretend it's a guitar. Make it an overdriven gnarly ass keyboard. But faking guitar achieves the opposite of your intent. You're trying to get some balls into the track and only succeed in making it sound limp.


You know how many guitar players there are around? Team up and do it right.

 

 

+1

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It's going to be an uphill struggle. Distorted guitars are easier to simulate than clean guitars, by and large -- particularly if you start with a clean guitar sound out of your synth/sampler and then use plugins to distort them. However, I have to say that my old Alesis QS6 synth had a pretty killer feedback guitar sample. It was still tough to use convincingly, but if you just needed a note to swell out in 'feedback,' it did a pretty good job.

 

There are samples of acoustic guitars playing chords that sound pretty reasonable -- but, of course, flexibility is a real issue there. I have a limited set of them in SoundFont format that sound pretty decent -- but I've never really been able to use them for anything. (And, since I actually play guitar, it's usually easier to just do that than to hassle with trying to get those ducks in the right row.)

 

There are 'virtual guitar' instruments out there that claim to do a pretty good job -- I've heard some demo tracks using them that didn't sound too bad, but, of course, you don't really know how usable such a thing is until you try using it.

 

 

As you note, to get convincing results, as with drums and orchestral instruments, it's important to limit yourself to what the instrument can do. Just because you can play ten notes at once on your keyboard... ;)

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It really depends on the song. If it's gonna be a featured player, as in one of the main elements of the song, then get a real guitarist.

 

I don't do very heavily guitar based music...if there's a guitar part, it's for background texture, just to give the track a more "human" feel. For this I'm a fan of Virtual Guitarist...although I find it more useful for simulated acoustic than electric. For electric guitar, just a stock electric guitar patch on a keyboard and some kind of amp simulator plug-in works just fine...of course it all depends on how you play it too. For instance, I find it more authentic sounding if I play grace notes, rather than use the pitch-bend wheel, which I feel sounds too artificial.

 

But if you are trying to record a real guitar-based song, then yeah, find an actual guitarist.

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Thanks, all. To be clear, I don't expect a simulated guitar to sound "real". I'm hoping it can just be a place-holder so an informal listener can get a sense of my vision for the song. If the riff is "cheesy", so be it. I'd find a live guitarist before I released anything as an actual demo.

 

The risk, of course, is that if the guitar part sounds completely awful, it may take the listener out of the song enough so that they miss the underlying quality.

 

I guess I'll just have to try it and see what happens. Thanks again!

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That's a tough one. Anything you do is going to be cheesy. I think the best you can is go with a sound that isn't trying to pretend it's a guitar. Make it an overdriven gnarly ass keyboard. But faking guitar achieves the opposite of your intent. You're trying to get some balls into the track and only succeed in making it sound limp.


You know how many guitar players there are around? Team up and do it right.

 

 

+2

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