Virtual Guitarist SILK 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.
© 2017 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 SILK
Table of Contents
User Guide....................................................................................................................................... 1
Table of Contents ....................................................................................................................... 2
Welcome to Virtual Guitarist SILK .............................................................................................. 4
About the Virtual Guitarist Series ............................................................................................... 4
You and Us ................................................................................................................................. 5
Looking for Quick Help? ............................................................................................................. 5
Interactive Overview .................................................................................................................. 6
What is Virtual Guitarist SILK? .................................................................................................... 9
Virtual Guitarist vs. a Real Guitarist ...................................................................................... 9
What is “SILK” About?........................................................................................................... 9
Why so Few Controls? .......................................................................................................... 9
Trial and Authorization ............................................................................................................. 10
Trying, Buying, Authorizing................................................................................................. 10
Where to Put the Content .................................................................................................... 11
Controller Hardware for Virtual Guitarist SILK ......................................................................... 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 ...................................................................................................................................22
STYLE ..................................................................................................................................22
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
KEY...................................................................................................................................... 23
CHORD ................................................................................................................................ 23
Interactive Keyboard ................................................................................................................ 23
Common Phrases................................................................................................................ 24
Style Phrases ......................................................................................................................25
Bass Notes ..........................................................................................................................26
Chord Range .......................................................................................................................26
Fingering Scheme ...............................................................................................................26
Performance Controls ..............................................................................................................29
LATCH .................................................................................................................................29
SPEED .................................................................................................................................29
SWING .................................................................................................................................30
FEEL ....................................................................................................................................30
TIMING ................................................................................................................................30
VARIANCE ...........................................................................................................................30
Guitar & Mics Section ............................................................................................................... 31
POSITION ............................................................................................................................ 31
CHARACTER ........................................................................................................................ 32
MICS .................................................................................................................................... 33
ANIMATE ............................................................................................................................. 34
Guitar Modes ............................................................................................................................ 34
Fret Noise ........................................................................................................................... 34
Doubling ............................................................................................................................. 35
Effect Section ........................................................................................................................... 35
Delay ................................................................................................................................... 36
Reverb ................................................................................................................................ 36
Attack .................................................................................................................................. 37
Master Volume ......................................................................................................................... 37
MIDI Learn ................................................................................................................................ 37
Automation ............................................................................................................................... 38
MIDI Controllers ....................................................................................................................... 38
Pitchbend ............................................................................................................................ 38
Modulation .......................................................................................................................... 38
Sustain Pedal ...................................................................................................................... 39
FAQ ..........................................................................................................................................40
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Welcome to Virtual Guitarist SILK
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, and SPARKLE, the expert for glamorous single coil licks,
SILK is the fourth 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 SILK
You and Us
Virtual Guitarist SILK was built by musicians for musicians. We at UJAM are a pretty diverse
bunch – from DJ to guitarist to weekend producer to Oscar-awarded Hollywood composer. We
build every product for ourselves, and, like you, we’re all users of Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK 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 SILK conveys 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 SILK
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 SILK
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 SILK
Quick Reference
Area
Menu Bar
Parameter
PRESET
Explanation
Click name to open menu for browsing and loading a new Virtual
Guitarist SILK 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
Style &
Chord Bar
Interactive
Keyboard
Performance
Section
Speech bubble
Will illuminate for notifications such as product updates.
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 and the optional bass note currently selected
by MIDI notes or by clicking a key in the Chords range and
optionally in the Bass Notes key range.
COMMON PHRASES
Keys in this area select generically useful phrases that can be
combined with Style Phrases.
STYLE PHRASES
BASS NOTES
Keys in this area select phrases of the currently selected Style.
Keys in this area will trigger Virtual Guitarist SILK to play a bass
note in addition to the currently played chord.
CHORDS
Keys in this area will tell Virtual Guitarist SILK what to play –
featuring built-in chord detection.
LATCH
When active, Virtual Guitarist SILK 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). Turn to the right
to syncopate off-beats.
FEEL
Controls overall timing. Turn to the left for a “pushing” feel, to
the right for a laid-back (“dragging”) feel.
TIMING
Controls accuracy of timing. Turn to the left for machine-like
constant timing, turn to the right for added random offsets and a
more human feel.
VARIANCE
Controls the dynamic variation of the performance. Turn the
control left for almost robotic steady dynamics. Turn it to the
right adds more and more variation in picking intensity between
notes, making the performance way more natural and human.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Area
Parameter
POSITION
CHARACTER
The CHARACTER knob adjusts the recorded signal before it
enters any further sound processing inside SILK. It offers five
distinct settings.
MICS
Chooses a microphone or different combinations of
both microphones.
ANIMATE
A custom combination of modulating comb filters, saturation
and convolution adds rich and vivid harmonics and an airy,
spherical feel.
Fret Noise
Adds characteristic noises of fingers sliding on a fretboard
when changing chords.
Doubling
Creates a drastically fuller and wider sound by virtual doubletracking.
Delay Mix
Dials in a delay effect.
Guitar & Mics
Guitar Modes
Reverb
Selects one of 6 guitar-optimized delay types, ordered by note
resolution (delay repetition length).
Dials in the ambience of a guitar recording room in a
professional recording studio.
Attack
Controls the attack transient of the guitar signal Transients
become softer when the knob is turned to the left.
Delay Type
Effect Section
Explanation
The POSITION knob emulates moving the picking hand
between bridge and neck. Turn left for a thinner sound with
more attack. Turn right for a more full-bodied, hollow sound.
Volume
Pitchbend Wheel
Wheels
Modulation Wheel
Controls the master output volume.
Use the Pitch Wheel to control the picking intensity (velocity).
Turn it down, and your guitarist will play softer, turn it up for
extra intensity.
The Mod Wheel controls the Palm Muting that your guitarist
applies to the performance. In the Mod Wheel’s default
position, no Palm Muting is applied. The further you turn it up,
the shorter the notes will become.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
What is Virtual Guitarist SILK?
Virtual Guitarist SILK is a software instrument doubling as a professional session guitarist,
playing picked nylon string guitar on a top-notch instrument, captured by high end studio
microphones, 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 SILK is a great alternative to the real thing.
What is “SILK” About?
Virtual Guitarist SILK is a concert guitar accompaniment virtuoso.
From delicate, strings-only singer-/songwriter arrangements to vivid dance and pop ornaments,
SILK enables a wide range of styles in your production’s sonic color palette.
Virtual Guitarist SILK lets you produce professional guitar tracks in no time, with minimal effort.
It combines the virtues of a professional guitarist, a precious, mint condition German concert
guitar from 1967, perfectly tuned, with fresh strings, selected high-end studio microphones, and
the most important sound shaping tools as used in recording studios, to design the guitar sound
exactly as you need it right now.
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 SILK 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 SILK, the
result will never be musically or technically wrong – without sacrificing your creative freedom.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
You can trust in the fact that tracks produced with Virtual Guitarist SILK are realistic,
professionally produced guitar tracks.
Trial and Authorization
We have designed the entire process of downloading, activating and authorizing Virtual
Guitarist SILK 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 SILK – 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 SILK.
Therefore, we grant you a 30-day trial period, during which the plugin will run without any
limitation.
When opening Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK license after or during the trial period,
• allows you to enter your credentials and authorize Virtual Guitarist SILK once you’ve
purchased it.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Trial Screen of SILK
Where to Put the Content
The actual guitar goodness of Virtual Guitarist SILK – the audio content – is packed into a socalled blob file named VG-SILK.blob which is about 2.9 GB big.
You can keep the blob file anywhere you like on your system drive:
macOS
/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VG-SILK
Windows
C:\ProgramData\UJAM\VG-SILK
(assuming your system drive is C)
Installing to a different drive on macOS
While you’re able to select a custom location on your system drive during installation, it’s not
possible to select a different drive at the moment. However, you can move the content after the
installation is done. Please refer to the section “Changing the content location after
installation”.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
macOS Installer – Select Content Location
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.
Windows Installer – Select Content Location
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Changing the content location after installation
You can always change the content location after installation by just moving the VG-SILK.blob
file:
• Move your file to the desired location (different folder or different drive)
• Launch your DAW and open Virtual Guitarist SILK. It will present you with a dialog asking for
the file location. Simply point to the new location of the VG-SILK.blob file – done.
Controller Hardware for Virtual Guitarist SILK
Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK by using MIDI step sequencers or by
entering MIDI notes manually into MIDI tracks.
For getting to know Virtual Guitarist SILK and for testing purposes, you can also use the
Interactive Keyboard in the top half of the Virtual Guitarist SILK window. This works best with
the Latch function enabled.
Native Instruments KONTROL Integration
Virtual Guitarist SILK 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
SILK will offer additional functionality:
• Native Map: You can edit Virtual Guitarist SILK’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 SILK presets in the Native Browser, including categories.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Virtual Guitarist SILK 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
Pro.
Start Playing!
Before we look at things in more depth, let’s first explore how to play Virtual Guitarist SILK, as
that may be all you need for now.
The top half of the Virtual Guitarist SILK 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), Bass Notes
(middle), and a Chord Range (right).
The basic principle is simple:
• When you press keys from C4* upwards, Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 C3 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.
• Play with the Pitch Wheel to control the playing intensity – very powerful to let the guitar
follow the song’s arc.
• MIDI notes between C3 and B3 let you select the Bass Note to play along with the chord.
If you know these things and can switch presets, you know all you need to start producing with
Virtual Guitarist SILK.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
*C4 is one octave above middle C. The MIDI note number is 72. Some DAWs refer to it as C5.
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 SILK. After this you will have a
good basic understanding of the instrument and how to use it.
We assume you have Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK window.
The Interactive Keyboard also doubles as a display for the MIDI notes Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK
recognizes 2-note intervals and 3-4 note chords. Play C-G-B 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 SILK 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 SILK window you can load presets. A preset is always a
complete setting of Virtual Guitarist SILK, 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 SILK. Optionally, try different Style Phrases by
additionally selecting keys in the C2 – B♭2 range.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Tell Your Player What to Play
• Activate the LATCH button right next to the Style Bar. Now Virtual Guitarist SILK 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, C2 –
B2. Go from C2 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 – B1 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 (B2).
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 SILK playing and slowly turn up the SWING control right next to the
Interactive Keyboard. As you will notice, this will delay the off-beats 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 SILK to half time or double time.
• Now experiment with the FEEL slider right below the SWING control. It makes subtle
changes to the timing, creating a rushed or relaxed feel. Play a drum loop along for better
comparison.
• Change TIMING and VARIANCE controls to adjust between robot-like accuracy and human
feel of the performance.
Find Your Guitar Sound
Let’s look at the bottom half of the Virtual Guitarist SILK window. Here you set up guitar and
microphones, sound character and effects.
• Set your player to LATCH and keep playing while you tweak controls.
• First, play with the ANIMATE rotary switch. Notice how it changes the character of the guitar
sound, adding just what the name says.
• Now experiment with the CHARACTER rotary switch. It offers five settings to define the
overall sound before it gets fed into processing. From Rich to Sheen, the tone changes from
warm and dark to crisp and bright.
• The POSITION knob lets you emulate moving the picking hand between bridge and neck.
Turn the knob to the right (moving the virtual hand towards the bridge) for a thinner sound
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
with more attack. Turn the knob to the left (moving the virtual hand towards the neck) for a
more full-bodied, hollow sound.
• The MICS switch lets you choose between five different selections of two original
microphone signals. A, B, and A+B deliver mono output. A/B and B/A split both signals into
stereo.
More Sound Tweaking Fun
• Activate the Fret Noise button at the lower left. This adds characteristic sliding noises that
are created by the player’s fingers when changing chords.
• 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 SILK.
Playing With the Built-In Effects
We strongly encourage you to use your go-to audio processing tools when perfecting your
guitar tracks. However, 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,
Reverb and Attack.
• 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.
• 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.
• When turned left, Attack softens the attack transient of the guitar signal and accentuates the
sustained portion. When turned right, it makes the attack transient more pronounced.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Reference Guide
In the following part of this user guide, every feature of Virtual Guitarist SILK will be explained in
depth.
Menu Bar
The top bar of the Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK 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.
• 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.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
The folder Introduction will give you a first impression of the sound capabilities. Virtual Guitarist
SILK ships with over 140 Factory Presets. Take your time exploring them, as this is the quickest
way of getting an overview of what Virtual Guitarist SILK can do!
If you have freshly installed Virtual Guitarist SILK, 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 SILK 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.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Moving, renaming and deleting presets
You can move, rename or delete Presets directly in your operating system. You will find Virtual
Guitarist SILK Presets in these folders (replace “USERNAME” by your actual username):
Factory
Presets
/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VG-SILK/Presets
User
Presets
/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/UJAM/VG-SILK/Presets
FactoryP
resets
C:\ProgramData\UJAM\VG-SILK\Presets
User
Presets
C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\UJAM\VG-SILK\Presets
macOS
Windows
(assuming your system drive is C)
Bell Icon – Notifications
When you launch Virtual Guitarist SILK, 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.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Update Dialog
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 SILK.
Speech Bubble Icon – About Page
About Page
The About Page is the place for information about your version and licensing status of Virtual
Guitarist SILK. It is also a portal to other services:
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
• Product Website takes you to www.virtualguitarist.com/silk 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 SILK.
• 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 SILK is the counterpart to a particular phrasing style that you ask
your guitarist to play. Styles are the “rhythmic vocabulary” of Virtual Guitarist SILK, which is why
we have included 60 of them.
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.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
KEY
This parameter lets you define a Key (scale). With a pre-selected Key, Virtual Guitarist SILK
offers a reduced chord selection consisting only of chords that work well in this key.
Key
played
Chord
C♯
C
C
maj
C
sus4
F♯
E♭
D
D
min
E
maj
E
F
E
min
F
maj
G♯
G
F
sus4
G
maj
B♭
A
G
sus4
A
min
B
B♭
maj
G
7
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 SILK 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 and the optional bass note
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 onscreen 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 22 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 SILK
Interactive Keyboard
Common Phrases
The lower left of the MIDI keyboard (C♯1 – B1) is reserved for a collection of 11 so-called
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.
Five of the Standard Phrases are one-shot phrases that don’t loop: C♯1, D1, D♯1, B♭1, and B1.
Phrases are what you make of them. Virtual Guitarist SILK 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.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Reference of Common Phrases
# Group
MIDI Note
Description
1
C♯1
Arpeggiated Chord
One shot
2 Chords
D1
Chord Low
One shot
3
D♯1
Chord High
One shot
4
E1
Easy Alternate Picking
1
5
F1
3 Notes Arpeggiated
1
F♯1
4 Notes Arpeggiated
1
G1
Up & Down Picking
1
8
G♯1
Easy Picking with Bass
1
9
A1
Quarter Note Chords
2
B♭1
Single Note High
One shot
B1
Single Note Low
One shot
6
7
10
11
Pickings
Single Notes
Bars
Style Phrases
Keys in this area select phrases of the currently selected Style.
Phrases in the Style range start with the lowest density/intensity on C2 and get more agitated as
you move towards B♭2.
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 – B2 – 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).
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Bass Notes
Keys in the Bass Notes section (C3 – B3) allow you to play a bass note that’s different from
the currently played chord.
The occurrence of played bass notes depends on the selected Style and Phrase, some
combinations play bass notes very frequently, some don’t at all. Bass notes are always added to
the currently played chord and therefor can’t be triggered solitary.
Please be aware that setting a Key does not affect the played bass note. What you press is what
you get.
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 SILK features a built-in chord recognition that makes it very easy to play even
complex chord progressions. You can play major chords (or matching chords if you selected a
Key) 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 SILK is pretty straightforward and intuitive – it
basically plays the chord you play, or the next possible chord if that’s not available.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Chords
The schematic on the next page shows you which chords you can play with Virtual Guitarist
SILK.
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 SILK, MIDI chords including these additional keys will still play the right
chord.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Fretboard Position
Playing notes and chords using keys on the lower part of the Chord Range will have the guitarist
play in lower fretboard positions. Playing notes and chords on higher keys will make the
guitarist play in higher fretboard positions if possible.
Performance Controls
Performance controls let you adjust the musical performance of Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK will
keep playing until you press the Stop key.
When Latch is off, Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK’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 SILK
styles play at normal grooves even if you use extremely low or high song tempi.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
SWING
This function, often also called “Shuffle”, delays the off-beats. Virtual Guitarist SILK will
th
th
automatically switch the Swing resolution to 8 or 16 note depending on the selected Style.
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 SILK 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 laid-back 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 SILK 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 SILK, pan both extremely
left and right, apply different CHARACTER settings and set the FEEL slightly differently.
TIMING
While FEEL defines a constant offset from the beat, TIMING lets you add realistic timing
variations.
This knob controls the timing accuracy of the virtual player. Turning it to the left will lead to a
more machine-like precision, turning it to the right will add more and more human feel by
bringing in small random timing offsets.
VARIANCE
VARIANCE is a powerful way to tweak the performance’s authenticity.
It lets you control the dynamic variation of the performance. Turn it left, and your guitarist will
play with almost robotic steady dynamics – this is often preferred in electronic music. Turn the
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
control to the right adds more and more variation in picking intensity between notes, making
the performance way more natural and human.
Guitar & Mics Section
Guitar & Mics Section
This area is where you tweak the sound of your guitar. Virtual Guitarist SILK offers a large range
of sounds from warm, soft and round to brilliant and sparkling.
POSITION
The Position knob emulates moving the picking hand between bridge and neck.
The center position represents the recording position - the fingers picking over the sound hole 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 to the right (moving the virtual hand towards the bridge) for a thinner sound with
more attack.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
CHARACTER
The CHARACTER knob adjusts the recorded signal before it gets fed into sound processors
inside Virtual Guitarist SILK. It offers five distinct settings:
Knob position
Character
Use…
Rich
Accentuated root note, slightly
boosted low and high ends.
...if you want the guitar to be one of the
dominant instruments in your mix or to have it
support your chord progression.
Full
Slightly boosted low and high
ends.
…for a modern, warm sound that fits most
arrangements.
Original
Untreated signal, straight from
the microphone(s).
...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.
...for a guitar track that blends well with other
harmonic/chord tracks, especially in bigger
arrangements. Allows you to bring down the
level and still keep the picking “recognizable”.
Sheen
Boosted and slightly
compressed treble.
...to add high end animation to any mix, often
as a complement or replacement for HiHat or
percussion, 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.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
MICS
The source material of Virtual Guitarist SILK has been recorded using two different high-end
small-diaphragm condenser microphones. The MICS selector lets you choose between five
different selections of those two signals:
Knob position
Character
A
This is the mono output of Microphone A, which has a nice neutral sound, slightly on
the crisp side.
B
Microphone B provides a somewhat fatter sound than microphone A. Select this
option to get pure B played in mono.
A+B
This option mixes A and B into a mono signal.
A/B
This is one of two stereo output options: Mic A on the left channel and B on the right.
You can use this to route and treat each signal individually in your DAW’s mixer, or to
create a stereo effect without using Doubling or a second instance of Virtual
Guitarist SILK.
B/A
Same as A/B but with channels swapped. Try both options in a mix to find out which
one sits better in the stereo image.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
ANIMATE
Animate is a multi-effect specially designed for Virtual Guitarist SILK. A custom combination of
modulating comb filters, saturation and convolution adds rich and vivid harmonics and an airy,
spherical feel.
Try to apply DAW automation to Animate and intensify your song’s progression, especially in
parts of rising tension.
Guitar Modes
Fret Noise
When changing from one chord to another, the fingers sliding on the fretboard create
characteristic noises that are essential for the authentic character of an acoustic guitar.
Virtual Guitarist SILK has an algorithm that produces these noises dynamically exactly where
they would occur on a real guitar. Sometimes you may want a totally clean signal – for example
in electronic music – in this case you can deactivate any Fret Noise with this button.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
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. If it’s just about creating a stereo
image, you can use the stereo mic settings without doubling the performance.
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 SILK with different settings of
ANIMATE, CHARACTER, FEEL and POSITION, 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 SILK 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 SILK
The onboard effects are not meant to replace dedicated plug-in or outboard effect processors,
and we encourage you to route Virtual Guitarist SILK into external plugins or outboard gear if
you need more advanced tweaking options.
Delay
Delay Section
The Delay effect in Virtual Guitarist SILK offers five different, guitar-optimized stereo delay
nd
th
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 SILK without adding too much wash
to the mix.
Reverb
Adds the ambience of a studio recording room to the guitar sound. If you’re not using external
effects, you should always consider dialing in a little reverb to avoid the guitar sounding dry and
artificial.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
Attack
When turned left, this control softens the attack transient of the guitar signal and accentuates
the sustained portion. When turned right, it makes the attack transient more pronounced.
Master Volume
The Volume knob adjusts the master output volume of Virtual Guitarist SILK. Levels inside
Virtual Guitarist SILK are usually auto-adjusted, so you will never have to level-compensate for
Doubling or adding ANIMATE, but you may want to use this control to adjust the gain of Virtual
Guitarist SILK before sending it into subsequent audio processors or effect devices.
MIDI Learn
Using MIDI Learn, you can assign Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 SILK to open the MIDI Learn context menu of your DAW.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
MIDI Learn context menu
Automation
All controls in Virtual Guitarist SILK 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 ANIMATE with faders to create dynamic transitions, or switch-automate
CHARACTER, SPEED, or Doubling to drastically change the sound between song parts.
For instructions on how to activate Virtual Guitarist SILK parameters for automation, please
refer to your DAW’s user guide.
MIDI Controllers
Unless you add more using MIDI Learn, Virtual Guitarist SILK supports the following MIDI
controllers:
Pitchbend
Use the Pitch Wheel to control the picking intensity (velocity).
Turn it down, and your guitarist will play softer, turn it up for extra intensity. Using the Pitch
Wheel is a very simply way of greatly enhancing the musical performance across the song’s arc,
so we highly recommend to use it.
Modulation
Palm Muting is a powerful method for live-controlling the phrasing of Virtual Guitarist SILK.
The Mod Wheel controls the Palm Muting that your guitarist applies to the performance.
In the Mod Wheel’s default position, no Palm Muting is applied. The further you turn it up, the
shorter the notes will become. The maximum position of the Mod Wheel produces entirely
“tone-less” muted strums.
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Virtual Guitarist SILK
You can add Palm Muting after the fact by adding a lane to your Virtual Guitarist SILK track and
recording a Mod Wheel performance on top of your notes. Experiment with multiple tracks with
different Mod Wheel performances for greatly enhanced live feel and two-player impressions.
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 SILK
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 quickly!
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