RealGuitar 2.1LE + RealGuitar Basics Video Tutorial Review

MusicLab is perhaps best known for their innovative performance tool "RealGuitar" that allows keyboard players to emulate guitar playing realistically. While this program allows you to play single notes, it also can detect 26 chord types in all inversions and note combinations (except for ma6 and min6 chords) - well enough for most rhythm playing applications. This trail-blazing software plug-in has already reached version 2, so let's see what all the fuzz is about, and does it really deliver?

RealGuitar 2LE offers few vast improvements over the previous versions. Perhaps the most remarkable is the new pattern library function, which allows you to build yourself a library of different kinds of rhythms and riffs. Though this plug-in comes with quite many pre-definined patterns, I was favourably surprised to see that one can also save the midi patterns of her/his own. Just think about how much time it could save, if you record a rhythm pattern that you're going to use on your song, and you can actually put that rhythm to loop and change the key it's in via your keyboard. However, if you don't see much use for this function, you can also buy the basic version of RealGuitar2, which doesn't feature the pattern library.

Being a guitarist myself, I had doubts regarding the usability of RealGuitar in the beginning. I didn't believe that guitar playing could be simulated with keyboard effectively, but fortunately MusicLab proves me wrong. On their software, they've developed an innovative way to play the guitar via keyboard. One can easily play arpeggiated notes, as well as flamenco strums etc. - over and above, the multitude of playing possibilities is laudable, and this program's ease of use is really stunning. It's a realy breeze to configure the sounds to please you, and the velocity curves to suit your playing style (and to make your playing sound authentic), The learning curve on this software is pretty quick - especially if one gets the RealGuitar Basics tutorial, which covers all the modes of this program. Here's the chapter list, as it'll give some insight to you what's possible with RealGuitar 2.

Part I. Solo Mode
Tutorial 1. Harmonics
Tutorial 2. Sustain Pedal
Tutorial 3. Hammer On, Pull Off, Slide
Tutorial 4. Automatic Bend
Tutorial 5. Repetitions
Tutorial 6. Mutes

Part II. Chords Mode
Tutorial 7. Strum, Muted Strum
Tutorial 8. Rasgueado Strums, Flamenco

Part III. Bass & Chord Mode
Tutorial 9. Bass and Strum technique

Part IV. Bass & Pick Mode
Tutorial 10. Bass and Arpeggio
Tutorial 11. Automatic Slide
Tutorial 12. Tremolo on the 1 String
Tutorial 13. Bass Line

On top of all, the resulting tracks sound fairly authentic, given that you can play well with keyboard. While it isn't a "real" guitar, it does come fairly close... actually, you can even play some wicked arpeggios that would be a lot harder (if not impossible) when played with a proper guitar, so I can imagine what a blessing RealGuitar can be in the studio when one's putting down some new ideas - you can hone the first take to perfection after recording it (for example, correct one wrong note).

The installation of this software was really quick and effortless. I was also delighted to notice that the samplerate can be chosen by the user on the installation, so the software doesn't use any resources for downsampling or upsampling later on. Actually this plug-in is fairly easy on resources, which is definitely another merit in my book.

I decided to provide two sample recordings for you to listen to demonstrate this software. Both of these recordings are improvisations captured in one take, and they contain no processing - so what you hear is what you get from this plug-in alone. There are no overdubs, since I wanted to test if I'd be able to play some ideas I'd play with a real acoustic guitar. Regardless, the first sample contains three different performances altogether where I didn't want to use the pattern function of this program, instead I wanted to control both the rhythm and melody by keyboard. I also used different guitar sample library's for each run (steel stringed acoustic, 12-string, and nylon stringed acoustic). The second sample, on the other hand, demonstrates the pattern function so the rhythm is pre-defined (I only control the melody via keyboard).

- Markus (September 4th, 2006)


RealGuitar 2 Medley [September 4th, 2006]
Second RealGuitar 2 Medley (Pattern Library) [September 4th, 2006]

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Link to MusicLab's Site