Plugins giving Too Much Help vs Too Little Help - A difficult balance

Hi pals

after some years tickling the ivories and other stuff, I realized what I need to have fun with music, drawings, and shoots: a balance

What balance?

A balance between Too much help and Too little help, as explained here for the music
(but relevant to my other hobbies as well)

The rest of the discourse is not easy to make, so I’ll write it down later, piece after piece

At the moment I can anticipate I found a plugin to put after “Something here” and you will be very surprised finding what it is

During these years I got some lemon (for example the KK ones and the Evolution Hollowbody Blues below), i.e. instruments that seemed possible to play, while they were rather impossible to tame

I have to say that videos (even if not made by devs) are rarely fair, as they often let the potential buyer believe they can use the tool easily while it isn’t at all

This is particularly true for guitar and brass plugins because the articulations that are almost impossible to re-create with a keyboard, unless you are a keyboard wizard AND you are also trained in using the articulation keys of each plugin

Considering that I am not a musician, not a composer, I don’t know musical theory, I am an erratic genius not a genius, and I am too old to learn everything, I knew since the beginning that I could never have played certain instruments, notable bass and drums, so I was, and I am perfectly happy having EZbass and EZdrummer stuck on the left of the formula

But, once I was a guitar player, so I made the big error thinking that I was able to play a guitar plugin: it was not true, for the reason I explained before

And every attempt to find a guitar plugin with a good balance failed, at the point I decided yesterday to drop the guitar close to EZBass and EZdrummer and putting my solo focus only on the keyboards (notably the Hammond and the Moog)

N.B: The same applies to woodwinds, and only with the amazing Sounpaints I was eventually able to play decent solos with flute and sax

Well, coming back to guitars, I also realized that each plugin may have its place in my toolbox, so I reinstalled my UJAM Sparkle

Now, do you remember my UAJM saga?
:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :rofl:

I abandoned it ranting that it was boring, and I uninstalled it after some time with no regret

Well, during the re-installation…

I was offered the trial of Sparkle 2
I tried it and WOW!
I found the most balanced guitar plugin ever!

So now the guitar is again in the middle of the formula, or rather quite on the right, why?

Let us reason about the GUIs of guitar plugins I have used so far

I drop all them, then I’ll explain what I can do, and I cannot do, with them

Note: I am not speaking about using them with Scaler feeding chords and the plugins using its MIDIs, because this way I have no control on the output, so a lot of boredom

I am speaking about using Scaler to send chords, and setting plugins in their “guitar” mode, so leaving space to my control and creativity, so having a lot of fun

AAS strum GS 2

KK Sunburst

Orange Tree Blues guitar

UJAM Sparkle 1

UJAM Sparkle 2

Now I have to do my job
Later I’ll add my critics and insight about each one

Let start with AAS Strum GS 2

If you send Scaler chords in the Chord Keys area, you can use your left or right hand to play notes (6 strings) and you can also use the other keys for articulations

There are 2 problems here:
1 - some articulations lack, and being a modelled plugin the sound is a bit “dull”, not so much variable, so boring in the long term
2 - you must hit the articulation keys in a precise manner, right timing etc.; it means you must be a very good keyboard player

This is why I ended using this plugin mostly in the Loop mode with Scaler feeding chords & loops

The conclusion is that this guitar plugin is very close to “Too Much Help”

And now let us see the KK Sunburst & Co

This is a sample-based guitar, so the sound of loops is very cool, but you have zero control in the Pattern mode

With the Melody mode instead, you have some control, but not so much:
1 - As you can see, you have just 3 articulations + the vibrato!
2 - The timing to hit articulations is very strict
3 - In my system at least hitting C#1 or D#1 has never produced a mute and a tremolo, but one of the Patterns on the right; I don’t know why

Now, considering the above drawbacks, adding that there are very few patterns (Sound presets change just tones, not patterns) makes this tool close to “Too Much Help”, and again to exploit all possibilities, you must be a very good keyboard performer

In my research of the balance, I tried this plugin because I didn’t have a guitar dedicated to blues

It is again a sample-based plugin, but the playability is even worse compared to the previous ones, and I found the synergy with Scaler difficult

You have tons of articulations that can be mapped to everything, your dog’s tail included, but I found it too difficult to play, even using the Automatic Chords Mode

And here is a former star :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :grin: :rofl:

This plugin was created with the extreme easy playability in mind, but I abandoned it because there is no control on patterns, and the number of patterns wasn’t so high

As you see, if you send chords in the Chords area (with Scaler or your bare hands), then you can hit one (at a time) of the pattern variations, but nothing else; you have no control on patterns and articulations, so another plugin close to “Too Much Help”

But as I said before, while installing Sparkle 1 I was offered Sparkle 2 trial and, OH BOY, this is totally another story!

They say they changed engine and this makes Sparkle 2 (and a few other versions 2) a game-changer to me, and now let us see why

Select the Player tab, then send the chords from Scaler to the Play Range area, then hit any of the MANY keys on the left and the MOJO jumps out!

The timing to hit those keys, late, early, whatever, doesn’t matter, and the result will be always right, always in tune, always in the scale of any chords dropped in the right area, so you can do arpeggios or hit multiple keys to have a sort-of harmonics, and you can use the many articulations, and the sound is always cool, and it’s credible because it is sample-based tool

On the other hand, you can have Scaler chord notes hitting various keys in Style Phrases and Play Range so having an automatic but variable guitar

In practice, this tool serves the whole range from “Much Help” to “Too Little Help” and became my perfect balanced guitar :heart_eyes:

P.S: I forgot to mention that I will no longer buy a plugin that doesn’t have a trial and/or a reselling capability and/or a 14 days refund policy, because the chances to get a no-way-to-play stuff are too high :japanese_goblin:

This depends on the DAW. In Reaper, it is not C#1 or D#1, but rather C#2 and D#2 respectively. Some other DAWs have different definitions of the “lowest” note. With a few tries and errors, everybody can find the equivalent in their DAW. And this is NOT Kontakt related.

it is not C#1 or D#1

Actually, this is what I saw in the plugin interface… :thinking:

I was never able to find those keys, but I have a 49 keys keyboard, so maybe the right keys were out of range, who knows

In any case, my regular policy both for jobs and hobbies, is that an app must work out-of-the-box possibly forever

I have no time/will to debug

my two favorites - AAS GS-2 and the “Session” apps. with GS-2 not only do you have loops, you can easily create them - you create 8 MIDI files per “loop” which correspond to the strum keys, and the pattern. easy and let’s you develop custom loops easily in any MIDI editor (like a DAW). the session apps while they have libraries of “fixed” patterns, you can shift a number of settings like what beat they start on, switching (immediate, 1/8 note, etc) and so you can take their existing patterns and create new presets with the existing ones. then in your MIDI key switches, and with the app set to the custom set of presets, easily create believable patterns.

i struggled with with these apps for a week before i decided to RTM. suddenly it became clear and no debugging, no more trying to figure it out on my own, when the manuals explain it… and i even learned to use my up/down octave buttons to put my 49 key keyboard into the right range so the key switches are playable.

I tried a couple of times to create loops without success
can you explain it better?

the MIDI clip is used to select the “guitar” settings as to which strum to use. there are 8 clips need for the loop - each represents a different pattern. to access the existing ones - open the GS-2 UI and select “open files” – you’ll see all the clips. once you examine them, you’ll see exactly what you need to do :slight_smile:

and then save them into a folder with the loop collection name “My Loops” etc

Yes. but there is a couple of caveats

  1. re-producing articulation in MIDI is out of my reach (skills) and those loops should follow rules
  2. the sound of modelized plugins is worse than sample-based ones

this is why I have more fun with UJAMs


An update to this old 3D

I abandoned Soundpaint brasses and flutes because I found that you need to be very good at keyboards to use them in funky tunes, that was my main intention

The same applies to East West brasses BTW, another untamable beast if you aren’t as good at keyboards like Jordan Rudess

So even if I was able to create some cool flute melodies with Soundpaint, I prefer the easiness of AAS Analog Orchestra soundpack way more!

About the other guitars, I abandoned and/or resold the KK ones and also the Orangetree due to the same reasons, more or less, and now I only use the UJAM’s (for accompaniment) and the AAS-Strum GS (mainly for solos, sometimes for accompaniment)

This is a very strange and exotic technique. I shall have to give it a try. I bought Strum years ago and didn’t get much success so I abandoned it and forgot I had it. I’ll have to clear the cobb webs and blow the dust off the installer.

I suggest Ample guitars because you can load guitar solos into their sequencer an drag the midi into your DAW to study and experiment with keyswitches.

All that assumes you’re happy to edit and not restricted to doing everything recorded in realtime. So may not apply to you specifically. But its a good technique for those who are happy to edit.

I dropped a guitar solo in from a preset in one of my tracks but I made a big announcement about it up front. Here’s the example I am talking about.

The example video shows a lot of audio but it’s because I had to bounce down most of it due to performance issues. The track is otherwise 100% midi in its construction.

Unfortunately, you make a lot of videos, and I hate videos just like I hate edits, LOL

Anyway, I use my PC in my job also, and due to my particular IT security measures, I only use pieces of software and hardware made by friendly countries :safety_vest: