Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE User Guide

Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE User Guide
User Guide
by Peter Gorges
The information in this document is subject to change without notice and does not
represent a commitment on the part of NXTGN Music Technology GmbH. The software
described herein is subject to a License Agreement and may not be copied to any other
media except as specifically allowed in the License Agreement. No part of this publication
may be copied, reproduced or otherwise transmitted or recorded, for any purpose, without
prior written permission by NXTGN Music Technology GmbH.
© 2016 NXTGN Music Technology GmbH. All specifications subject to change without
notice. Virtual Guitarist is a registered trademark of NXTGN Music Technology GmbH. All
other commercial symbols are protected trademarks and trade names of their respective
holders. All rights reserved.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Table of Contents
User Guide .................................................................................................................................. 1
Table of Contents................................................................................................................ 2
Welcome to Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE .......................................................................... 4
About the Virtual Guitarist Series .................................................................................... 4
You and Us ........................................................................................................................... 5
Looking for Quick Help? .................................................................................................... 5
Interactive Overview .......................................................................................................... 6
Quick Reference .................................................................................................................. 7
What Is Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE? ................................................................................ 9
Virtual Guitarist vs. A Real Guitarist........................................................................... 9
What Is “SPARKLE” About? ......................................................................................... 9
Why So Few Controls? ............................................................................................... 10
Trial and Authorization ..................................................................................................... 10
Trying, Buying, Authorizing ....................................................................................... 10
Where to Put the Content ............................................................................................11
Controller Hardware for Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE................................................... 13
Native Instruments KONTROL Integration ............................................................. 13
Start Playing! ........................................................................................................................ 14
Walkthrough ....................................................................................................................... 15
Make a Sound and Learn about Chords and Key ............................................... 15
Try the Presets.............................................................................................................. 15
Tell Your Player What to Play ................................................................................... 16
More Performance Tweaking Fun ........................................................................... 16
Find Your Guitar Sound .............................................................................................. 16
More Sound Tweaking Fun ........................................................................................ 17
Playing With the Built-In Effects ................................................................................ 17
Reference Guide .....................................................................................................................18
Menu Bar ..............................................................................................................................18
Loading Presets.............................................................................................................18
Save and Save as … .................................................................................................... 19
Bell Icon – Notifications ............................................................................................ 20
Speech Bubble Icon – About Page ......................................................................... 21
Style Bar .............................................................................................................................. 21
STYLE .............................................................................................................................. 21
KEY ................................................................................................................................. 22
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
CHORD ...........................................................................................................................23
Interactive Keyboard ........................................................................................................23
Common Phrases.........................................................................................................24
Style Phrases ............................................................................................................... 25
Chord Range ................................................................................................................ 26
Fingering Scheme....................................................................................................... 26
Performance Controls ..................................................................................................... 29
Latch ............................................................................................................................... 29
Speed ............................................................................................................................. 29
Swing ............................................................................................................................. 29
Feel ................................................................................................................................. 30
GUITAR & AMP Section .................................................................................................. 30
GRIT .................................................................................................................................. 31
GUITAR ............................................................................................................................ 31
AMP .................................................................................................................................32
DRIVE .............................................................................................................................. 33
Guitar Modes ...................................................................................................................... 33
Drop D............................................................................................................................. 33
Doubling ......................................................................................................................... 34
Effect Section ..................................................................................................................... 34
Delay ...............................................................................................................................35
Chorus ............................................................................................................................35
Reverb.............................................................................................................................36
Master Volume ...................................................................................................................36
MIDI Learn ...........................................................................................................................36
Automation ......................................................................................................................... 37
MIDI Controllers ................................................................................................................. 37
Pitchbend ....................................................................................................................... 37
Modulation ..................................................................................................................... 37
Aftertouch ......................................................................................................................38
Expression .....................................................................................................................38
Sustain Pedal ................................................................................................................38
FAQ .......................................................................................................................................39
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Welcome to Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
We hope you will enjoy this powerful addition to your musical palette, and we
thank you for becoming a part of the UJAM community of music creators!
About the Virtual Guitarist Series
The original Virtual Guitarist series was a best-selling virtual instrument
developed by Wizoo and distributed by Steinberg. The last version, Virtual
Guitarist 2, was discontinued in 2007.
Since then, people have been asking for a Virtual Guitarist 3.
In 2013, the core team behind the original Virtual Guitarist gathered again, and
launched Virtual Guitarist IRON – specialized on Power Chords – in December
2015. After AMBER, which specializes in strummed acoustic guitar, SPARKLE is
the third instrument of the series, which is not just an evolution of the original, but
a whole new generation of Virtual Guitarists.
With an all-new concept and technology Virtual Guitarist instruments now offer
vastly expanded realism, musical and sonic capabilities with the same ease and
speed of use the legacy instruments were so famous for.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
You and Us
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE was built by musicians for musicians. We at UJAM are a
pretty diverse bunch – from DJ to guitarist to weekend producer to Oscarawarded Hollywood composer. We build every product for ourselves, and, like
you, we’re all users of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE too.
That means that before we even start developing, a lot of thought and discussion
goes into finding out what you, the user, will expect from the product, what
problem it solves, which controls we can remove to make the product more
inviting and simpler, which hurdles we can move out of the way between you and
a perfect track.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is optimized for one clear, powerful purpose: To
produce great-sounding guitar tracks without distracting you from the complex
endeavor that producing a song is.
We hope that Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE transpires that philosophy in everything
you do with it.
Naturally, we’re always open to new ideas and critique, and you are always
encouraged and welcome to talk to us:
• Send us an email:
support@virtualguitarist.com
• Visit our Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/vrtlguitarist
• Catch us on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/vrtlguitarist/
Looking for Quick Help?
If you’re just looking to figure out something quick, there are three ways to get
there:
• The Interactive Overview is a screenshot of the user interface. Clicking on a
control there takes you straight to its explanation.
• The Quick Reference has super-short explanations for every control.
• The Walkthrough is a guided tour where you’ll try every control on the Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE screen once – the quickest hands-on experience possible.
If you’re looking for in-depth explanations of all functions and controls, head
straight for the Reference Guide further down.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Interactive Overview
Clicking on any control on the image below will take you to the reference
explanation of this particular feature.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Quick Reference
Area
Parameter
Menu Bar
PRESET
Explanation
Click name to open menu for browsing and loading a
new Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE preset
Save
When editing a user preset, click to save your preset,
replacing the previous version.
Save as
Click to save your preset under a different name and
– optionally – assign a category.
Bell icon
Will illuminate for notifications such as product
updates.
Speech
bubble
About Page – information about licensing status,
portal to other services such as website, this manual
or product support.
STYLE
Loads a Style (collection of 11 phrases, accessible via
the Style Phrases section of the keyboard).
KEY
Allows you to set a fixed key, limiting the selection of
possible chords to that scale.
CHORD
Displays the chord currently selected by MIDI notes
or by clicking a key in the Chords range.
Common
Phrases
Keys in this area select generically useful phrases
that can be combined with Style Phrases.
Style
Phrases
Keys in this area select phrases of the currently
selected Style.
Chords
Keys in this area will tell Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
what to play – featuring built-in chord detection.
Latch
When active, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE will keep
playing independently of keys held, until you
deactivate Latch or press the Stop Key.
Speed
Lets you switch the playback tempo to half, normal or
double time.
Swing
Controls syncopation (often also called Shuffle). Slide
to the right to syncopate off-beats.
Feel
Controls timing. Set to left of center for a “pushing”
feel, to the right for a laid-back (“dragging”) feel.
Style Bar
Interactive
Keyboard
Performance
Section
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Area
Guitar &
Amp
Guitar
Mod
Effect
Section
Wheels
Parameter
GRIT
Explanation
Adds a gritty – overdriven, high-mid boost – component to
the guitar signal.
GUITAR
Selects a pickup or combination of pickups.
AMP
Chooses a guitar amp/speaker combination.
DRIVE
Dials in amp overdrive for a crunchier sound.
Drop D
Tunes the strings of the entire guitar down by two
semitones.
Doubling
Creates a drastically fuller and wider sound by virtual
double-tracking.
Delay Mix
Dials in a delay effect.
Selects one of 6 guitar-optimized delay types, ordered by
note resolution (delay repetition length).
Delay Type
Chorus
Adds a guitar-optimized Chorus effect that goes from
slight animation to a 12-string (without octaves) effect. Turn
clockwise to increase rate and depth.
Reverb
Dials in the ambience of a guitar recording room in a
professional recording studio.
Volume
Pitchbend
Wheel
Controls the master output volume.
Modulation
Wheel
Gradually adds palm-muting as you turn up the wheel. The
maximum position will produce toneless dead note
strumming.
Bends the overall pitch by ±2 semitones.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
What Is Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE?
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is a software instrument doubling as a professional
session guitarist, playing electric rhythm guitar on a top-notch instrument, hooked
up to hand-selected vintage amps and cabinets, and performing exactly as you
wish, while giving you full control over musical performance and mix.
Virtual Guitarist vs. A Real Guitarist
If we denied the huge differences between a software and a guitarist, you
shouldn’t trust us.
If you have all the money, time and patience in the world plus a recording studio
and a professional guitarist available, we would always recommend: Go for it!
But for most people, most of the time, that’s not the case:
• Maybe you have no access to a (professional) guitarist.
• Maybe you like to work out ideas totally by yourself, taking the time, playing
with ideas.
• Maybe you’re a guitarist but want to quickly lay down a track without the
hassle of tuning your guitar and setting up a recording session.
• Maybe you want to use MIDI-controlled guitar tracks as source material for
electronic manipulation.
In these and many others scenarios, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is a great
alternative to the real thing.
What Is “SPARKLE” About?
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE focuses on clean to crunchy electric guitar strumming
(chord, octaves, single notes), a rhythmic staple in any kind of music spanning a
range of over 50 years from the 60s to today.
It offers you a wide range of playing styles and sound characters from clean and
funky to fat and crunchy.
On top of just chords, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE also offers single-note and
octave variations of many styles – even slides – for a maximum of musical
variation.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE lets you produce professional guitar tracks in no time,
with minimal effort. It combines the virtues of a professional guitarist, a custom
premium-quality electric guitar, perfectly tuned, with fresh strings, selected
vintage amp/cabinet combinations, and the most important sound shaping tools
as used in recording studios, to design the guitar sound exactly as you need it
right now.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Why So Few Controls?
We are all musicians and we know that the time for learning a user interface is
better spent making music.
Therefore, the user interface of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is designed for
maximum ease of use and minimum distraction.
It is also fail-proof in that no matter how you set up the controls of Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE, the result will never be musically or technically wrong –
without sacrificing your creative freedom.
You can trust in the fact that tracks produced with Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE are
realistic, professionally produced guitar tracks.
Trial and Authorization
We have designed the entire process of downloading, activating and authorizing
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE with a strong focus on simplicity. It’s important to us to
make it as easy as possible for you to get your hands on Virtual Guitarist
SPARKLE – and make it your own if you like it.
Trying, Buying, Authorizing
We only want you to spend money if you’re absolutely happy with Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE. Therefore, we grant you a 30-day trial period, during which
the plugin will run without any limitation.
When opening Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE during the trial period (or when clicking
the Authorize button in the menu bar), you will see this overlay which
• displays information about your trial status,
• provides a link to the Virtual Guitarist website where you can purchase a
permanent Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE license after or during the trial period,
• allows you to enter your credentials and authorize Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
once you’ve purchased it.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Trial Screen of SPARKLE’s sister instrument Virtual Guitarist IRON
Where to Put the Content
The actual guitar goodness of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE – the audio content – is
packed into a so-called blob file named VG-SPARKLE.blob which is about 3.9 GB
big.
You can keep the blob file anywhere you like (e.g. on a separate content drive).
During standard installation, it will be put into the following locations on your
system drive:
OS X
/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VGSPARKLE
Windows
C:\ProgramData\UJAM\VG-SPARKLE
(assuming your system drive is C)
Installing to a different drive on OS X
If you wish to install the blob file onto a separate drive, you can set a different
content installation folder in the installer.
• Open the installer and follow the procedure to step “Installation Type”
• Click “VG SPARKLE Content” to select it – as shown in the image below – and
follow the instructions in the installer.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
OS X Installer – Change Content Location (shown for VG IRON here)
Installing to a different drive on Windows
The Windows installer will ask you if you want to install the content to a different
directory.
On Windows, you can also set a different location for the plug-in, however we
recommend to leave this untouched unless you have a good reason.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Windows Installer – Change Content Location
Changing the content location after installation
You can always change the content location after installation by just moving the
VG-SPARKLE.blob file:
• Move your file to the desired location (different folder or different drive)
• Launch your DAW and open Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE. It will present you with
a dialog asking for the file location. Simply point to the new location of the
VG-SPARKLE.blob file – done.
Controller Hardware for Virtual Guitarist
SPARKLE
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE requires MIDI note input for playing and recording
musical performances, and optionally Pitchbend, Modulation and Sustain Pedal
data for added real-time variation.
If you have a MIDI controller (keyboard), this will be the easiest and most
straightforward MIDI input method and it’s most fun as this way you control your
guitarist in real-time.
Of course you can also control Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE by using MIDI step
sequencers or by entering MIDI notes manually into MIDI tracks.
For getting to know Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE and for testing purposes, you can
also use the Interactive Keyboard in the top half of the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
window. This works best with the Latch function enabled.
Native Instruments KONTROL Integration
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is fully NKS-compatible for superior integration with
Native Instruments KONTROL technology.
This means that when using MASCHINE or any of the KONTROL-S keyboards,
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE will offer additional functionality:
• Native Map: You can edit Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE’s parameters using the
controller knobs.
• Light Guide: On KONTROL-S keyboards, LEDs with color codes guide you to
the Common Phrases and Style Phrases ranges as well as the Chords range.
• You can browse Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE presets in the Native Browser,
including categories.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE in the MASCHINE Browser
These features are available in the KONTROL software as well as in all popular
DAWs that feature KONTROL integration, such as Ableton Live, Steinberg
Cubase/Nuendo and Apple Logic.
Start Playing!
Before we look at things in more depth, let’s first explore how to play Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE, as that may be all you need for now.
The top half of the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE window is dedicated to the
guitarist’s performance – in other words: what is played. Here, you’ll find two
musical core aspects you can control: Phrasing and Notes. The Interactive
Keyboard is split between a Phrase Range (left) and a Chord Range (right).
The basic principle is simple:
• When you press keys from C4* upwards, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE will start
playing a phrase with the chord determined by the notes you play. When you
release the key(s), playback will stop.
• MIDI notes below C4 don’t represent musical keys but switches varying the
phrasing of your player in real-time. This is a powerful way of making your
performance interesting and dynamic.
• By turning up the Modulation wheel, you can morph from normal to shorter to
dead notes – another powerful way of varying phrases.
If you know these things and can switch presets, you know all you need to start
producing with Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
*C4 is one octave above middle C. The MIDI note number is 72. Some DAWs
refer to it as C5.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Walkthrough
Note: Keywords printed italic refer to parameter or section names you will also
find elsewhere in this manual.
If you’re pressed for time or if you already know the basic concepts behind
Virtual Guitarists, then this Walkthrough may be all you need for now, and you
can come back later to look up deeper explanations as you need them.
We will take a quick tour across all controls of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE. After
this you will have a good basic understanding of the instrument and how to use
it.
We assume you have Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE opened in your DAW. Ideally you
have a MIDI controller connected, otherwise use the Interactive Keyboard.
Make a Sound and Learn about Chords and Key
• Play C4 or a higher note. Your guitarist will start playing. It will display the
current chord in the CHORD display which is part of the Style Bar above the
Interactive Keyboard in the upper half of the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
window.
The Interactive Keyboard also doubles as a display for the MIDI notes Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE is receiving. The keyboard is divided and properly labeled
with the functions of the corresponding note ranges.
• By playing more than one note, you can play more complex chords. Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE recognizes 2-note intervals and 3-4 note chords. Play C-GB for example to play a Cmaj7 chord, or C-F for a Csus4. The current chord is
always visible in the CHORD display above the keyboard.
• Set the KEY value in the Style Bar to D to force Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE to
play only chords in the D scale. Set different keys while playing the same
notes. This will change the chords played – watch the CHORD display too.
Try the Presets
• At the top of the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE window you can load presets. A
preset is always a complete setting of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, i.e. it will
change the performance as well as the guitar and effects. At this point, just go
through different presets to get an impression of the musical and sonic palette
of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE. Optionally, try different Style Phrases by
additionally selecting keys in the C♯1 – B♭3 range.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Tell Your Player What to Play
• Activate the Latch button right next to the Style Bar. Now Virtual Guitarist
SPARKLE will keep playing even if you don’t hold a note. Let it keep playing.
• Now play a note in the correspondingly labeled Style Phrases range of the
keyboard, C3 – B3. Go from C3 upwards and see how the phrasing gets more
intense. These are the phrases you can exchange by loading different Styles.
Let’s do just that now:
• Load different Styles using the STYLE menu to the left-hand side of the Style
Bar. You will notice that your guitarist masters a vast range of playing
techniques and musical genres.
• Now try keys in the C♯1 – B2 range, labeled Common Phrases. These
phrases will always be there no matter which Style you’ve loaded, and can be
freely combined with the Style Phrases.
• Interrupt your player temporarily by holding the Silence key (C1). It will
continue when you play another note. Now stop your player by pressing or
clicking the Stop key (B3).
You can use the Silence key in Latch Off mode too to mute your phrase but keep
it running. This is different from lifting the key and playing it again as that will
restart the phrase.
More Performance Tweaking Fun
• Keep Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE playing and slowly turn up the Swing control
right next to the Interactive Keyboard. As you will notice, this will delay the offbeats until the phrasing resembles a ternary feel that is common in Swing
music (hence the name), often also called Shuffle or Groove depending on
your DAW.
• The Speed switch lets you set Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE to half time or double
time.
• Now experiment with the Feel slider right next to the Swing control. It makes
subtle changes to the timing, creating a rushed or relaxed feel. Play a drum
loop along for better comparison.
Find Your Guitar Sound
Let’s look at the bottom half of the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE window. Here you
set up guitar and amp, sound character and effects.
• Set your player to Latch and keep playing while you tweak controls.
• First, play with the GRIT rotary switch. Notice how it changes the character of
the guitar sound, adding just what the name says.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
• Now experiment with the GUITAR rotary switch. It offers additional variety by
letting you select between different guitar pickups/combinations, from the fullbodied Neck to the more present Bridge.
• The AMP knob lets you choose five different combinations of guitar amps and
speakers, each with its distinct sound character, and with increasing “crunch”
from top to bottom.
• The DRIVE knob finally lets you overdrive the amp for a crunchier sound.
• Play with different combinations of the GRIT, GUITAR, AMP and DRIVE
controls. This way you get a good impression of the sonic range of Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE.
More Sound Tweaking Fun
• Activate the Drop D button at the lower left. It tunes the strings of the guitar
(not your actual notes played) down by two semitones. If you play the note D4
and push the Drop D button, you’ll notice it extends the note range to the
lower D.
• Keep playing and push the Doubling button. This adds a second guitar player
and places both at the outer positions of the stereo image for a dramatically
more vivid and powerful sound. This works particularly well in scenarios
where you use a lot of high frequencies from Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
Playing With the Built-In Effects
We strongly encourage you to use your go-to audio processing tools when
perfecting your guitar tracks. However, in order to save you time and create a
more interesting range of instantly accessible presets, we have included the
three most important effects right on board: delay, chorus and reverb.
• Turn up the left Delay knob to dial in an echo effect. To match the delay to
your song, use the right knob to select the note resolution that works best for
your song’s timing and feel.
• Turn up the Chorus knob to add sweet animation and depth to the sound.
• The Reverb adds the ambience of a studio recording room to the guitar
sound. If you’re not using external plug-ins, you should always dial in a little
reverb, otherwise the guitar sound might be too dry and artificial.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Reference Guide
In the following part of this user guide, every feature of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
will be explained in depth.
Menu Bar
The top bar of the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE interface lets you load and save
presets. It also contains important management functions from checking your trial
status to contacting support.
Menu Bar
Loading Presets
Preset Browser
A preset in Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is a complete setting of the entire plug-in
including Style selection and all control values. Here’s how you can switch
presets:
• Advance to the next preset by clicking one of the arrows left and right of the
PRESET name.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
• Click on the name of the current preset in the PRESET menu to open the
Preset Browser (see image above).
As you can see, the Preset Browser is a clean, organized list of presets,
categorized by simple musical terms.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE ships with over 50 Factory Presets. Take your time
exploring them, as this is the quickest way of getting an overview of what Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE can do!
If you have freshly installed Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, there will only be Factory
Presets. User Presets will appear once you have saved your first own preset.
Save and Save as …
You can of course save your own Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE presets. You can
name them and assign a category too.
“Save as …” Dialog
The difference between the Save and Save as … buttons:
• Save replaces the preset with the changes you just made.
• Save as … lets you assign a name and a category, so does not replace the
current preset.
Factory Presets can only be saved using Save as …, they cannot be replaced.
Moving, renaming and deleting presets
You can move, rename or delete Presets directly in your operating system. You
will find Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE Presets in these folders (replace “USERNAME”
by your actual username):
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
OS X
Factory
Presets
/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VG-SPARKLE/Presets
User
Presets
/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VGSPARKLE/Presets
Windows Factory
Presets
User
Presets
C:\ProgramData\UJAM\VG-SPARKLE\Presets
C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\UJAM\VGSPARKLE\Presets
(assuming your system drive is C)
Bell Icon – Notifications
When you launch Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, it will automatically check for
updates. If an update is available, the bell icon will be illuminated.
Clicking it will open a dialog that lets you choose whether you want to download
the update now or later.
Update Dialog (from sister instrument VG IRON)
We built this mechanism to save you the pain of manually checking for updates
in order to keep up with the latest improvements of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Speech Bubble Icon – About Page
About Page
The About Page is the place for information about your version and licensing
status of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE. It is also a portal to other services:
• Product Website takes you to www.virtualguitarist.com with regularly updated
news, videos, tutorials and other helpful stuff.
• Read Manual opens this document.
• Contact Support lets you report problems and ask questions.
• Acknowledgments – the people behind Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
• License Agreement – legalese stuff for gourmets.
Style Bar
In the Style Bar, you choose a STYLE (selection of phrases) and a KEY. It also
contains the CHORD display.
Style Bar
STYLE
A STYLE in Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is the counterpart to a particular phrasing
style that you ask your guitarist to play. Styles are the “rhythmic vocabulary” of
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, which is why we have included over 50 of them.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
You can select styles by either clicking the small arrows to skip to the
previous/next style, or by clicking the name of the current Style to bring up the
full list.
Style List
Every Style is a set of eleven phrases that you can access via the Style Phrases
area of the Interactive or MIDI keyboard.
In most Styles, Phrases are ordered by intensity/density from left to right.
OCT Styles
Many styles exist in an additional variation marked by the name extension “OCT”,
an abbreviation that stands for “Octave” here. In these styles, Virtual Guitarist
SPARKLE doesn’t play chords, but single-note octaves.
In these Styles, no matter which chord or interval you play, Virtual Guitarist
SPARKLE will always play the root key only.
Single Note Styles
th
th
The two styles “Single 16 ” and “Single 8 ” provide a useful collection of phrases
played only with single notes. Like with the OCT styles, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
will always play the root key only.
KEY
This parameter lets you define a Key (scale). With a pre-selected Key, Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE offers a reduced chord selection consisting only of chords that
work well in this key.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
C♯
Key
played
C
Chord
C
E♭
D
Csus4
D
E♭
F♯
E
F
E
F
G♯
G
Gsus4
G
B♭
A
Gsus4
A
B
B♭
B
Exemplary chord mapping for the key of C
Setting a Key is useful if you want a simplified method of playing chords or if
you’re controlling Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE from a non-keyboard controller and
have only so and so many pads or buttons assignable.
CHORD
CHORD is not a parameter but a display. It shows the chord corresponding to the
keys you play (see also Fingering Scheme on page 27).
Interactive Keyboard
The interactive keyboard is both a display of received MIDI notes and an actually
functional on-screen keyboard. The left side of the keyboard doesn’t make any
sound by itself. Here, you control the performance of the guitarist by switching
between 34 different phrases. 11 of these phrases are set by the style, the rest
are always available.
Note: The on-screen keyboard does not get recorded by your DAW. Use a MIDI
keyboard or – if available – the DAW’s own on-screen keyboard for this purpose.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Interactive Keyboard
Common Phrases
The lower left of the MIDI keyboard (C♯1 – B2) is reserved for a collection of socalled Common Phrases. These phrases are “hard-wired” and won’t change with
the STYLE selection.
Common Phrases complement the Style Phrases by phrasings that are more
generic and applicable to multiple contexts.
Phrases are what you make of them. Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE lets you switch
phrases in real-time without interrupting the performance. That’s a great way to
create dynamic and interesting phrasings of your own. For example, lead from a
bridge to a chorus with the build-up Phrases 19 and 20.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Reference of Common Phrases
#
Group
MIDI Note Description
Bars
C♯1
Sustained Chord Downstroke
4
D1
Sustained Chord Upstroke
4
3
D♯1
Single Note Downstroke
4
4
E1
Single Note Upstroke
4
1
2
Sustained
5
1/2 & 1/4
F1
Half Note Chords
2
6
Sustained
F♯1
Quarter Note Chords
2
7
G1
Rhythm 3-5 Sustained
2
8
G♯1
Rhythm 1 2+ 3
2
9
Legato
A1
Rhythm 1 2 2+ 3
2
10
Rhythm
A♯1
Easy Rhythm
2
11
B1
Easy Rhythm 8th
2
12
C2
Easy Rhythm Syncopated
2
13
C♯2
Easy Rhythm 16th
2
14
D2
Rhythm with Stops
2
15
Rhythm with Stops D♯2
16
Songwriter Rhythm with Stops 2
E2
Rhythm with Backbeat Stops
2
F2
Offbeat 2 & 4
2
18
F♯2
Stopped 4th
2
19
G2
Build-Up 8th
1
20
G♯2
Build-Up 8th Chord Opening
2
21
A2
Single Note Intro /Fall
1
22 Intros
A♯2
Chord Intro 1
1
23
B2
Chord Intro 2
1
17
Accents
Build-Ups
Style Phrases
Keys in this area select phrases of the currently selected Style.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Phrases in the Style range start with the lowest density/intensity on C3 and get
more agitated as you move towards B♭3.
You could generally work your way through a song going from left (intro, verse)
to right (chorus), but of course this greatly depends on the style and your song.
Just know you always have 11 different rhythms plus the Common Phrases at your
immediate disposal.
The highest key of the Style Range – B3 – is the Stop key. In Latch mode,
pressing this key will stop playback (whereas the Silent key (C1) will keep
playback going, just with an empty phrase.
Chord Range
Keys in the Chord range function almost like a regular musical keyboard: You
start and stop the guitarist’s performance and you determine the chords played.
It’s like playing keyboard, except that instead of playing notes you select the
chord the guitarist will perform as a phrase.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE features a built-in chord recognition that makes it very
easy to play even complex chord progressions. You can play major chords with
just one finger and other chords using two or three. The following paragraph will
tell you exactly which chords are supported and how to play them.
Fingering Scheme
The chord recognition scheme of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is pretty
straightforward and intuitive – it basically plays the chord you play, or the next
possible chord if that’s not available. But there’s something more to it which we’ll
look at in this section.
Actually, there are two ways to tell Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE which chord to play
– actually playing that chord (or a subset of it), or playing an interval.
Chords
The schematic on the next page shows you which chords you can play with
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
Here’s how to read it:
• A black dot on the stylized keyboard means “required”,
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
• a grey dot means “optional” – for example, if you use the MIDI file of a synth
pad to control Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, MIDI chords including these
additional keys will still play the right chord.
Intervals
Optionally, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE also lets you play intervals and interprets
matching chords.
For example, when you play C and D at the same time, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
will interpret this as a sus2 chord.
This is particularly useful if you use Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE in tandem with
Virtual Guitarist IRON.
Semitones
2
Interval
2
sus2
3
min 3
5
4
6
8
9
Chord recognized
nd
rd
min
th
sus4
th
dim
th
+5
th
6
th
7
th
maj7
dim 5
aug 5
maj 6
10
min 7
11
maj 7
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Performance Controls
Performance controls let you adjust the musical performance of Virtual Guitarist
SPARKLE to your song’s feel and tempo.
Performance Controls
Latch
When Latch is activated, once you press a key in the Chord range, Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE will keep playing until you press the Stop key.
When Latch is off, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE only plays as long as you hold at
least one key in the Chord range. Latch is convenient when testing or setting up
sounds, and is more practical if you build a track by manually entering notes into
your MIDI track.
You can use an optional sustain pedal as a temporary Latch. Lifting the sustain
pedal unlatches any notes that are no longer held, even if the Latch switch is still
on.
Speed
The Speed switch lets you halve (0.5x) or double (2x) Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE’s
tempo relative to the song tempo.
th
nd
This way you can extend the style range to 4 - or 32 -note-based, or have
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE styles play at normal grooves even if you use
extremely low or high song tempi.
Swing
This function, often also called “Shuffle”, delays the off-beats. Virtual Guitarist
th
th
SPARKLE will automatically switch the Swing resolution to 8 or 16 note
depending on the selected Style.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
At maximum position, the off-beat will have the same timing as the last note of a
triplet.
Use this control to match the timing of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE to a shuffled or
triplet-based song.
th
th
Not all phrases contain 8 or 16 note off-beats. In these cases, the Swing
control has no effect.
Feel
You can tweak the feel of your guitarist’s performance either towards relaxed or
rushed using this control:
• As you move the slider to the left, the player will play off-beats slightly earlier,
leading to a rushed or driving feel.
• In the opposite direction, off-beats will be slightly delayed, creating a laidback or relaxed feel.
Feel has a stronger effect when listened to against other tracks. If you’re not
sure what it does, try playing a drum loop along with Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
and tweak the control. You will notice that the off-beats will play earlier or later
than the off-beat drums (usually hi-hats or snares) as you turn the control.
To create advanced doubling, create two instances of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE,
pan both extremely left and right, set different GUITAR and AMP settings and set
the FEEL slightly differently.
GUITAR & AMP Section
GUITAR & AMP Section
This area is where you tweak the sound of your guitar. Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
offers a large range of sounds from warm, soft and round to brilliant and
sparkling.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
GRIT
Named for exactly what it does, this knob lets you dial in an overdriven
component with a high-mid boost, creating a beefier sound that cuts through in a
mix without you having to overdrive the entire signal. GRIT works well with all
GUITAR, AMP and DRIVE settings.
GUITAR
Name
Character
Use …
Neck
The pickup with the
thickest, roundest sound.
Nice low end and warmth.
… for mixes where the guitar has a bit
of space and doesn’t have to stick
through lots of other mid-range
rhythmic tracks.
Mid
In the middle between Neck
and Bridge – just enough
bite and warmth.
… pretty much everywhere where you
need a guitar that’s not too dominant
on either side of the frequency range.
Dual
Glassy, with attenuation in
the high mids (“scooped”),
therefore not too sharp.
… wherever you need a silky, glassy
sound, for example in disco and all
funky styles, particularly clean to lightly
crunched.
Bridge
Cuts right through,
accented mids with not too
much bass.
… when you need the guitar to be
clearly audible to dominant,
particularly with higher Crunch levels.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Those descriptions provide just guidelines and technical info. We encourage you
to always try out all switch positions for any given track.
AMP
This knob lets you select from five carefully selected and set up combinations of
typical guitar amps and speakers, providing a large range of rhythm guitar
sounds at the turn of a single control:
Knob
Character
position
Use ...
Clean
D.I. signal without any amp character.
As you turn up DRIVE, more of the
signal gets routed into a speaker
cabinet.
… simply when you want a clean
signal, or when you want to send
the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
signal into an external amp.
Bite
We won’t mention the F-word, but it’s … for a wide range of
a typical combo amp with a 1×12
applications from clean to
speaker cabinet built in the U.S. – lots crunch, when you want the guitar
of bite and presence.
to cut through.
Crisp
The British say “crisps” when they
mean hearty and crunchy potato
chips, and that’s what this British
Class-A valve amp is all about.
Cream
A creamier variation of Crisp in that it … when you’re not as much after
gives up a bit of presence in return for presence and bite than after
added warmth and roundness, partly beef and a saturated character
provided by a larger speaker cabinet. with average crunch.
Rough
The proverbial British rock amp with a … for that crunchy roughness that
very unique character in the clean-to- only a big stack delivers, serving
crunch range, with a typical British
a wide range of styles
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… whenever you’re after welldefined guitar sound with just
enough roughness that still
covers a wide frequency range.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
roughness. We won’t say the M-word,
still.
DRIVE
This knob adjusts the overdrive level and therefore the amount of distortion of
the guitar signal. The effect is very different depending on the AMP setup you’ve
chosen.
Naturally, bottom positions of the switch will work better with higher DRIVE
settings, whereas the top ones are better suited for creating clean guitar
characters.
Guitar Modes
The two buttons in the lower left allow you to re-tune or duplicate the guitar.
Drop D
This switch lets you activate what guitarists know as Drop (or Drop D) tuning. In
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE all strings get tuned down by 2 semitones, the lowest
string plays D.
Therefore, when Drop D is activated (pitch is unaffected, of course), Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE sounds a little thicker and warmer in general.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Doubling
Activating this button has the same effect as double-tracking your guitar.
Technically, Doubling adds a second guitarist and places both at the outer
positions of the stereo spectrum.
We recommend to use Doubling with care – it’s great to give more weight to
tracks that are a key foundation of your song. On the other hand, a mix gets
mushy pretty quick if you have two or three doubled guitar tracks playing at the
same time.
Two handy tips:
• To create the impression of two guitarists playing even more differently,
instead of using Doubling try setting up two instances of Virtual Guitarist
SPARKLE with different settings of GRIT, GUITAR, AMP and DRIVE, put them
at the ends of the panoramic spectrum and pick different phrases for both.
• Add a second instance with a sharper sound to a doubled full-bodied setting
and place it in the middle, and you have a very effective way of controlling the
presence of that guitar track in the mix by adjusting the single track against
the doubled one.
Effect Section
Effect Section
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE features three guitar-typical on-board effects. They
provide for a greater sonic palette and allow you to create presets that sound
perfect “out of the box” – because often you need that little reverb or delay for a
particular sound.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
The onboard effects are not meant to replace dedicated plug-in or outboard
effect processors, and we encourage you to route Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE into
external plugins or outboard gear if you need more advanced tweaking options.
Delay
Delay Section
The Delay effect in Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE offers five different, guitarnd
th
optimized stereo delay presets from 32 to 4 note resolution, as well as a mix
control (left knob).
th
From Slapback echoes (32 setting) to rhythmic duplication using the longer
resolutions – subtle delay adds width and ambience to Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
without adding too much wash to the mix.
Chorus
Adds a guitar-optimized Chorus effect. As you turn the knob, the chorus will go
from a subtle slow flanging to a fast, deep, almost twelve-string effect.
Try the Chorus particularly for adding a bit of detuning and depth. Be careful not
to overdo it – there’s just a fine line between a nicely animated guitar rhythm
and a sticky mush of 80s kitsch.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
Reverb
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE’s reverb is a quick way to add the atmosphere of a
large recording room in a professional studio, particularly suited for the
percussive character and rich harmonics of an acoustic steel string guitar.
Master Volume
The Volume knob adjusts the master output volume of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
Levels inside Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE are usually auto-adjusted, so you will
never have to level-compensate for Doubling or adding GRIT, but you may want
to use this control to adjust the gain of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE before sending
it into subsequent audio processors or effect devices.
MIDI Learn
Using MIDI Learn, you can assign Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE controls to controls
on your hardware keyboard that send MIDI controller data. To assign a control,
you usually right-click or ctrl-click a control in Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE to open
the MIDI Learn context menu of your DAW.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
MIDI Learn Menu in Logic Pro
Automation
All controls in Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE can be automated. In combination with
the phrase select keys this is actually a very powerful way of creating more
dynamic performances. For example, automate POSITION and DRIVE with faders
to create dynamic transitions, or switch-automate AMP or Doubling to drastically
change the sound between song parts.
For instructions on how to activate Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE parameters for
automation, please refer to your DAW’s user guide.
MIDI Controllers
Unless you add more using MIDI Learn, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE supports the
following MIDI controllers:
Pitchbend
The Pitchbend controller (usually a wheel) lets you vary the pitch of Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE by ±2 semitones.
Modulation
Palm Muting is a powerful method for live-controlling the phrasing of Virtual
Guitarist SPARKLE.
The Modulation controller (usually a wheel) controls the Palm Muting that your
guitarist applies to the performance.
In the Modulation controller’s default position, no Palm Muting is applied. The
further you turn it up, the shorter the notes will become. The maximum position
produces so-called “dead notes”.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
You can add Palm Muting after the fact by recording a separate Modulation
curve on top of your notes.
Aftertouch
Aftertouch has the same function as Modulation (see previous paragraph) – i.e.
pressing the key harder gradually mutes strokes.
Expression
The Expression controller is applied individually to each strum in a phrase, so the
volume of the previous step that is still playing is not affected. This can be useful
for fine-tuning performances.
Note that velocity is not used to control volume, as it is difficult to play all notes
of a chord with consistent velocity.
Sustain Pedal
The sustain pedal replicates the Latch control, so you can use it as an additional
way of varying phrases in real-time. Pressing the sustain pedal activates latching
of chord notes. Releasing the sustain pedal releases any latched chord notes
even if the Latch button is on.
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Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
FAQ
Where can I get help?
We keep a help desk with a knowledgebase and known issues here:
https://ujam.zendesk.com
I still have questions! Where can I send them?
Please send your questions to support@virtualguitarist.com. We will help you out
quickly!
- 39 -
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