how I do guitar lines in midi

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how I do guitar lines in midi

Postby johns1952 » Fri Nov 12, 2004 2:48 pm

I play guitar, but badly, so I sometimes use midi for guitar tracks. But to make it sound like something real I don't worry much about the sound I might be able to get from whatever synth or soundfont patch. Instead I do a lot of tone-building at the audio level. The final product I'm talking about here is guitar with a fair amount of distortion, which is what I generally use. If that isn't what you want, you're reading solely for entertainment from here on. Anyway, here's my procedure, at some length.

I run the guitar midi track initially into some sort of approximation patch from my GM soundfont or VSC. Just so I can hear something. Later on, when I'm mostly past the composition stages and can start worrying more about tone, I make sure the guitar line is generally in shape and humanized--no odd cut-offs and the like, velocities and start times moved around teeny bits, bends for slides, etc. I zero-out reverb and chorus and run the track into some sort of relatively “clean” patch, often an acoustic guitar. Then I record that into a monoraul audio track.

Then I add effects to build that audio track into the sound I want. Generally I end up with, in this order: eq, compressor, distortion, and reverb or chorus or delay. Some people would put compression first. I compress heavily because the clean or acoustic patches generally start hard and die quickly. Once reverb or whatever is in, remember to hit that button that gives you stereo output from a mono track. This is no place to argue over plugins, so I won't name names.

I don't just dump 'em all in. I build the sound step-by-step. I solo the track a lot at the beginning stages, but of course it's gotta be heard with the other tracks. If I get a bunch of fx stacked up and things start bogging down I go to options/global/midi/playback and double the buffer size (temporarily!), or clone-or-bounce and archive. Archive is a wonderful thing. I usually end up with lots of version-tracks.

Some of you who have spent more money might want to use an all-in-one such as Revalver or Trash. But any one of those (the demos, in my case) seem to grab more cpu than my usual stack of four fx, and I find the stack'o'four more controllable. Fx with automatable parameters are rare, and they seem to grab lots of cpu as well. Don't need 'em. If I want anything to shift, that's what aux bus volume envelopes are for.

It's amazing what I can get. Midi is non-authentic because patches don't vary in sound from one note to the next (or they do when you don't want 'em to). What I end up with is very far from that.

I never aim for the sound so-n-so got on that song. Whether playing or midi-ing, it's far more fun to just diddle around and see what comes out. I've had a song change its spots quite a bit because of some tone I found, whether from guitar or midi.

Toward the end of the process I slip in an envelope or two. For pan, especially if this is a lead instrument, I want it to float around more-or-less randomly but pretty close to where the instrument is supposed to be centered. Volume, just to tweak, and in case the compression erased dynamic changes I had in the midi track. Envelopes are also cpu-grabbers, so bounce and archive.

I have a wrk full of assorted envelopes I've built now and then and can call on when they're needed, usually for that random pan. Some of them I built by drawing a controller in a midi track (lots quicker than that envelope-making mess) or just diddling a hardware midi controller, doing edit/convert midi to shapes, then copying the envelope to an audio track.


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