VG AMBER User Guide

VG AMBER 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 AMBER
Table Of Contents
User Guide .................................................................................................................................. 1
Table Of Contents ............................................................................................................... 2
Welcome to Virtual Guitarist AMBER ............................................................................. 4
About the Virtual Guitarist series .................................................................................... 4
You and us ............................................................................................................................ 4
Looking for quick help? ..................................................................................................... 5
Interactive Overview .......................................................................................................... 6
Quick Reference .................................................................................................................. 7
What is Virtual Guitarist AMBER? .................................................................................... 9
Virtual Guitarist vs. A Real Guitarist........................................................................... 9
What is “AMBER” 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 AMBER ....................................................... 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
Adjust the guitar sound in realtime .......................................................................... 17
Reference Guide .....................................................................................................................18
Menu Bar ..............................................................................................................................18
Loading Presets.............................................................................................................18
Save / Save as … .......................................................................................................... 19
Bell icon – Notifications ............................................................................................ 20
Speech Bubble Icon – About Page ......................................................................... 21
Style Bar .............................................................................................................................. 21
STYLE .............................................................................................................................. 21
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
KEY ................................................................................................................................. 22
CHORD .......................................................................................................................... 22
Interactive Keyboard ........................................................................................................23
Common Phrases.........................................................................................................23
Style Phrases ................................................................................................................24
Chord Range ................................................................................................................ 25
Fingering scheme ....................................................................................................... 25
Performance Controls ...................................................................................................... 27
Latch ................................................................................................................................ 27
Speed .............................................................................................................................. 27
Swing .............................................................................................................................. 27
Feel ................................................................................................................................. 28
GUITAR section ................................................................................................................ 28
POSITION ...................................................................................................................... 29
TONE .............................................................................................................................. 29
SOURCE ........................................................................................................................ 30
SHIMMER ........................................................................................................................ 31
Guitar Modes ....................................................................................................................... 31
Fret Noise ....................................................................................................................... 31
Low Tune .......................................................................................................................32
Doubling .........................................................................................................................32
Effect Section ..................................................................................................................... 33
Delay ............................................................................................................................... 33
Chorus ............................................................................................................................ 34
Reverb............................................................................................................................. 34
Master Volume ................................................................................................................... 34
MIDI Learn ...........................................................................................................................35
Automation .........................................................................................................................35
MIDI Controllers .................................................................................................................35
Pitchbend .......................................................................................................................35
Modulation .....................................................................................................................36
Aftertouch ......................................................................................................................36
Expression .....................................................................................................................36
Sustain Pedal ................................................................................................................36
FAQ ....................................................................................................................................... 37
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Welcome to Virtual Guitarist AMBER
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. AMBER is the second 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.
You and us
Virtual Guitarist AMBER was built by musicians for musicians. We at UJAM are a
pretty diverse bunch – from DJ to guitarist to weekend producer to Oscar-
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
awarded Hollywood composer. We build every product for ourselves, and, like
you, we’re all users of Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER 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 AMBER 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:
[email protected]
• 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 AMBER 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 AMBER
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 AMBER
Quick Reference
Area
Parameter
Menu Bar
Preset
Explanation
Click name to open menu for browsing and loading a
new Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER
what to play – featuring built-in chord detection.
Latch
When active, Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER
Area
Parameter
Guitar
POSITION
Guitar
Mod
Effect
Section
Wheels
Explanation
Emulates a change of the hand’s strumming position. In the
leftmost position you get a more full-bodied sound (neck),
in the maximum position the sound becomes thinner
(bridge).
TONE
Offers a choice of overall sound characters, clockwise from
“soft and full-bodied” to “neutral” to “very thin with a lot of
treble”.
SOURCE
Virtual Guitarist AMBER offers two different signals:
Microphone and Pickup. You can also combine both
signals mixed together (Mix) or panned left and right (Split
L/R).
SHIMMER
Fret Noise
This knob adds silvery high-end to the signal.
Intelligently inserts fret noises when they would occur on a
real guitar (depending on chord changes).
Low Tune
Activating this button tunes the strings of the entire guitar
down by two semitones.
Doubling
Creates a drastically fuller and wider sound by adding a
second guitarist and panning both signals hard left and
right.
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 AMBER
What is Virtual Guitarist AMBER?
Virtual Guitarist AMBER is a software instrument doubling as a professional
acoustic guitarist in a music studio, with you being in the producer chair.
Virtual Guitarist vs. A Real Guitarist
If we denied the huge differences between a software and 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 AMBER is a great alternative
to the real thing.
What is “AMBER” about?
Virtual Guitarist AMBER focuses on strummed chords on a premium acoustic
steel string guitar, a rhythmic staple in any kind of modern music. It offers you a
wide range of playing styles (Phrases combined into Styles) and sound
characters from full-bodied and warm to brilliant and shiny.
There’s a wide range of functions of an acoustic steel string guitar in a song. Two
extreme examples:
-
In folk or songwriter music, the guitar is often the foundation of the
arrangement – with everything built around it. In this case, you’d prefer a
warm, full sound and a straight playing style.
-
In pop music, acoustic steel string is often used as a form of “harmonic
percussion” or as a HiHat or Tambourine supplement”. This adds instant
live-feel to arrangements. Here, the metallic strumming itself is as or
even more important than the harmonic portion of the sound. In such a
case, you will want a thin guitar sound because it is not carrying the
chords, or may even interfere with chord instruments. You’ll pick a
brilliant shine and use more complex phrases.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Virtual Guitarist AMBER lets you do all this and much more in no time, with
minimal effort. It combines the virtues of a professional guitar, a custom premiumquality acoustic guitar, perfectly tuned, with fresh steel strings, recorded with a
professional microphone and a pickup at the same time, plus the most important
sound shaping tools as used in recording studios, to design the guitar sound
exactly as you need it in various contexts.
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 AMBER 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 AMBER, 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 AMBER are
realistic, professionally produced guitar tracks.
Trial and Authorization
We have designed the entire process of downloading, activating and authorizing
Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER
– 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 AMBER. Therefore, we grant you a 30-day trial period, during which the
plugin will run without any limitation.
When opening Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER license after or during the trial period,
• allows you to enter your credentials and authorize Virtual Guitarist AMBER
once you’ve purchased it.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Trial Screen of AMBER’s sister instrument Virtual Guitarist IRON
Where to put the Content
The actual guitar goodness of Virtual Guitarist AMBER – the audio content – is
packed into a so-called blob file named VG-AMBER.blob which is about 2.8 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
main system drive:
OS X
/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VGAMBER
Windows
C:-\\ProgramData/UJAM/AMBER/
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 AMBER Content” to select it – as shown in the image below – and
follow the instructions in the installer.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
OS X Installer – Change Content Location (shown for VG IRON here)
Installing to a different drive on Windows
The Windows installer will automatically ask you if you want to install the content
to a different directory.
In 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 AMBER
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-AMBER.blob file:
• Move your file to the desired location (different folder or different drive)
• Launch your DAW and open Virtual Guitarist AMBER. It will present you with a
dialog asking for the file location. Simply point to the new location of the VGAMBER.blob file – done.
Controller hardware for Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Virtual Guitarist AMBER requires MIDI note input for playing and recording
musical performances, and optionally Pitchbend, Modulation and Sustain Pedal
data for added realtime 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 realtime.
Of course you can also control Virtual Guitarist AMBER by using MIDI step
sequencers or by entering MIDI notes manually into MIDI tracks.
For getting to know Virtual Guitarist AMBER and for testing purposes, you can
also use the Interactive Keyboard in the top half of the Virtual Guitarist AMBER
window. This works best with the Latch function enabled.
Native Instruments KONTROL integration
Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER will offer added functionality:
• Native Map: You can edit Virtual Guitarist AMBER’s parameters using the
controller knobs.
• Light Guide: On KONTROL-S keyboards, LEDs with color codes guide you to
the Common and Style ranges as well as the Chord range.
• You can browse Virtual Guitarist AMBER presets in the Native Browser,
including categories.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER, as that may be all you need for now.
The top half of the Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER 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 realtime. 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 AMBER.
*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 AMBER
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 AMBER. After this
you will have a good basic understanding of the instrument and how to use it.
We assume you have Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER window.
The Interactive Keyboard also doubles as a display for the MIDI notes Virtual
Guitarist AMBER 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. Play C-EG-B for example to play a Cmaj7 chord, or C-F-G for a Csus4. Virtual Guitarist
AMBER will display the current chord in the CHORD display above the
keyboard.
• Set the Key value in the Style Bar to D to force Virtual Guitarist AMBER to play
only chords in the D scale. Set different keys 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 AMBER window you can load presets. A
preset is always a complete setting of Virtual Guitarist AMBER, 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 AMBER. Optionally, try different Style Phrases by
additionally selecting keys in the C#1-Bb3 range.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Tell your player what to play
• Activate the Latch button right next to the Style Bar. Now Virtual Guitarist
AMBER 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 AMBER 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 AMBER to half- 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 AMBER window. Here you set
up your guitar, its sound character and effects.
• Set your player to LATCH and keep playing while you tweak controls
• First, play with the TONE rotary switch. Notice how it changes the character of
the guitar sound and compare your impression with the knob labels.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
• Now experiment with the SOURCE rotary switch. It offers additional variety by
letting you select between the more hollow, brilliant Mic (Microphone) and the
dryer, more mid-oriented Pickup sound, as well as combinations of both.
• Now turn the SHIMMER control clockwise, starting from the leftmost position.
Notice how the sound gets more “shiny”, or “glitzy.
• Play with different combinations of the TONE, SOURCE and SHIMMER
controls. This way you get a good impression of the sonic range of Virtual
Guitarist AMBER.
More sound tweaking fun
• Activate the Fret Noise button in the bottom left area of Virtual Guitarist
AMBER. Now, when you switch between chords, you will hear characteristic
fret noises that occur when fingers slide across the fretboard.
• Right next you’ll find Low Tune. 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 Low Tune 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 AMBER.
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.
Adjust the guitar sound in realtime
You may have noticed that we haven’t looked at the POSITION knob yet. It’s a
very special feature that lets you change the position of the strumming hand, like
on a real guitar you’d move between soundhole and bridge. Turn the knob to the
left and right, and notice how the character changes. The neutral position of the
knob is center.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Reference Guide
In the following part of this user guide, every feature of Virtual Guitarist AMBER
will be explained in depth.
Menu Bar
The top bar of the Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER is a complete setting of the entire plug-in
including Style selection and all control values. Here’s how you can switch
presets:
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
• Advance to the next preset by clicking one of the arrows left and right of the
PRESET name
• 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 AMBER 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 AMBER can do!
If you have freshly installed Virtual Guitarist AMBER, there will only be Factory
Presets. User Presets will appear once you have saved your first own preset.
Save / Save as …
You can of course save your own Virtual Guitarist AMBER presets. You can name
them and assign a category too.
“Save as …” Dialog
The difference between the Save and Save as … buttons:
• Save overwrites 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 overwritten.
Moving, renaming and deleting presets
You can move, rename or delete Presets directly in your operating system. You
will find Virtual Guitarist AMBER Presets in these folders:
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
OS X
Factory
Presets
/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VG-AMBER/Presets
User
Presets
/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VGAMBER/Presets
Windows Factory
Presets
User
Presets
C:\ProgramData\UJAM\VG-AMBER\Presets
C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\UJAM\VGAMBER\Presets
Bell icon – Notifications
When you launch Virtual Guitarist AMBER, 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 AMBER.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Speech Bubble Icon – About Page
About Page
The About Page is the place for information about your version and licensing
status of Virtual Guitarist AMBER. It is also a portal to other services:
• Visit Product Website takes you to 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 AMBER.
• 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 AMBER is the counterpart to a particular phrasing
style that you ask your guitarist to play. Styles are the “rhythmic vocabulary” of
Virtual Guitarist AMBER, which is why we have included over 50 of them.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
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.
KEY
This parameter lets you define a Key (scale). With a pre-selected Key, Virtual
Guitarist AMBER offers a reduced chord selection consisting only of chords that
work well in this key.
Key
played
Chord
C#
Eb
C
C
D
Csus4
D
Eb
F#
E
F
E
F
G#
G
Gsus4
G
Bb
A
Gsus4
A
B
Bb
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 AMBER 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).
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
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.
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 AMBER lets you switch
phrases in realtime 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 AMBER
Reference of Common Phrases
#
Group
1
Midi Note Description
Bars
C#1
Sustained Chord Downstroke
4
4
2
Sustained
D1
Sustained Chord Upstroke
3
Chords
D#1
Arpeggiated Chord Downstroke 4
4
E1
Arpeggiated Chord Upstroke
4
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
Songwriter Rhythm with Stops
2
E2
Rhythm with Backbeat Stops
2
F2
Offbeat 2 & 4
2
F#2
Stopped 4th
2
G2
Build-Up 8th
1
G#2
Build-Up 8th Chord Opening
2
21
A2
Intro 1
1
22 Intros
A#2
Intro 2
1
23
B2
Intro 3
1
15
Rhythm with Stops D#2
16
17
18
19
20
Accents
Build-Ups
Style Phrases
Keys in this area select phrases of the currently selected Style.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Phrases in the Style Range start with the lowest density/intensity on C3 and get
more agitated as you move towards Bb3.
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 AMBER 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 schematic on the next page shows you which chords you can play with
Virtual Guitarist AMBER.
Here’s how to read it:
• A black dot on the stylized keyboard means “required”, a grey dot means
“optional” (for example, if you use the MIDI file of a synth pad to control Virtual
Guitarist AMBER)
• Chord displayed: The resulting musical chord as displayed by Virtual Guitarist
AMBER
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Performance Controls
Performance controls let you adjust the musical performance of Virtual Guitarist
AMBER 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 AMBER will keep playing until you press the Stop key.
When Latch is off, Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER’s
tempo relative to the song tempo.
This way you can extend the style range to 4th- or 32nd-note-based, or have
Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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
AMBER will automatically switch the Swing resolution to 8th or 16th note
depending on the selected Style.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
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 AMBER to a shuffled or
triplet-based song.
Not all phrases contain 8th or 16th 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 AMBER 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 AMBER,
pan both extremely left and right, set different TONE and SOURCE settings and
set the FEEL slightly differently.
GUITAR section
GUITAR Section
This area is where you tweak the sound of your guitar. Virtual Guitarist AMBER
offers a large range of sounds from warm, soft and round to brilliant and
sparkling.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
POSITION
The POSITION knob emulates moving the strumming hand between neck and
bridge.
The center position represents the recording position – the hand strumming over
the soundhole – and is therefore neutral.
Turn the knob to the left (moving the virtual hand towards the neck) for a more
full-bodied, hollow sound.
Turn the knob clockwise (towards the bridge) for a thinner sound with more
attack.
TONE
Acoustic Steel String Guitar, the instrument that Virtual Guitarist AMBER adds to
your arsenal, gets used in a variety of applications – from being the main backing
track (songwriter, folk) to just adding a bit of “harmonic glitz” on top of the
percussion instruments. For each of these situations, you need a different
character or TONE. This 5-way switch lets you change the tone of the guitar
sound basically from “a lot of low end” to “a lot of high end”.
Seriously, more details here:
Name
Character
Use …
Warm
Bassy tone with softened
high end
… to beef up an arrangement in the
low/mid range. Works best with slow, not
too animated material.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Full
Pronounced mid range,
low and high end slightly
softened
… for adding harmonic content to a mix
without adding too much high end
(strumming).
Flat
Untreated signal, straight
from the
microphone/pickup
… for a straight acoustic guitar character,
or if you plan to do all sonic treatment in
the mixer or using studio processors.
Bright
Pronounced high mids
and treble, low end rolled
off
… for a guitar track that blends well with
other harmonic/chord tracks, without
interfering with the lower mids. Allows
you to bring down the level and still keep
the strumming “recognizable”.
Crisp
High frequencies of the
strum noise almost
isolated, no bass or mids
… add high end animation to any mix,
without interfering with other chord
sounds. Works particularly well with
Doubling activated.
Those descriptions provide just guidelines and technical info. We encourage you
to always try out all switch positions for any given track.
SOURCE
The source material of Virtual Guitarist AMBER has been recorded with both a
microphone and a pickup mounted on the guitar. The SOURCE selector lets you
choose between four different selections of those two signals:
• Mic – a vintage large-membrane studio condenser microphone positioned
about 1 ft from the neck/bridge intersection. The Mic signal features strong
bass and treble and is the typical sound character and preferred choice in
most cases.
• Pickup – a pickup mounted on the guitar. The pickup sounds drier, more
compact and direct. It is more mid-oriented and lacks the low end and high
sparkle of the Mic signal.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
• Mix – Best of both worlds, a mono mix of Mic and Pickup, therefore thicker
than the Mic signal alone with more low end and sparkle than the Pickup
signal.
• Split L/R – this outputs the Mic signal on the left channel and the Pickup signal
on the right channel. You can use this to route and treat each signal
individually in your DAWs mixer, or to create a stereo effect without using
Doubling or a second instance.
SHIMMER
The SHIMMER knob adds silvery high-end to the signal, making the guitar
shimmer or sparkle even more. This is particularly useful when you use Virtual
Guitarist AMBER as support for Hi-Hat and other high-frequency rhythmic
instruments, as is often the case in pop/rock productions.
Guitar Modes
The three knobs underneath the POSITION control allow you to add typical Fret
Noise, to re-tune or to duplicate the guitar.
Fret Noise
When changing from one chord to another, the fingers sliding on the fretboard
create characteristic noises that add to the authentic character of an acoustic
guitar. Virtual Guitarist AMBER has an algorithm that produces these noises
dynamically exactly where they would occur on a real guitar. You can switch
them off (sometimes producers just don’t want them, and cut them out even from
real recordings) by deactivating this button.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Low Tune
Activating this button emulates a guitar where the strings of the entire guitar are
tuned down by two semitones, but the player still plays the same chords. This
generally leads to a darker sound character and also extends the low range
down from E to D. Basically what this means:
• You can play chords down to the low D.
• The guitar will generally sound fuller/lower as lower versions/inversions of the
wanted chord are now available.
Doubling
Activating this button has the same effect as if two guitarist played your track at
the same time, with minimal variations.
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 2 or 3 doubled guitar tracks playing at the same
time.
Two handy tips:
• To create the impression of two guitarists playing even differently, instead of
using Doubling set up two instances of Virtual Guitarist AMBER with different
settings of POSITION, TONE and SHIMMER, put them on 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.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Effect Section
Effect Section
Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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.
The onboard effects are not meant to replace dedicated plug-in or outboard
effect processors, and we encourage you to route Virtual Guitarist AMBER into
external plugins or outboard gear if you need more advanced tweaking options.
Delay
Delay Section
The Delay effect in Virtual Guitarist AMBER offers five different, guitar-optimized
stereo delay presets from 32nd to 4th note resolution, as well as a mix control
(left knob).
From Slapback echoes (32th setting) to rhythmic duplication using the longer
resolutions – subtle delay adds width and ambience to Virtual Guitarist AMBER
without adding too much wash to the mix.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
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.
Reverb
Virtual Guitarist AMBER’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 AMBER.
Levels inside Virtual Guitarist AMBER are usually auto-adjusted, so you will never
have to level-compensate for Doubling or adding Shimmer, but you may want to
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
use this control to adjust the gain of Virtual Guitarist AMBER before sending it
into subsequent audio processors or effect devices.
MIDI Learn
Using MIDI Learn, you can assign Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER to open the
MIDI Learn context menu of your DAW.
MIDI Learn Menu in Logic
Automation
All controls in Virtual Guitarist AMBER 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 AMBER parameters for
automation, please refer to your DAWs user guide.
MIDI Controllers
Unless you add more using MIDI Learn, Virtual Guitarist AMBER supports the
following MIDI controllers:
Pitchbend
The Pitchbend controller (usually a wheel) lets you vary the pitch of Virtual
Guitarist AMBER by ±2 semitones.
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Virtual Guitarist AMBER
Modulation
Palm Muting is a powerful method for live-controlling the phrasing of Virtual
Guitarist AMBER.
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”.
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 AMBER
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 [email protected] We will help you out
quick!
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