Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

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yeto
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Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by yeto » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:01 pm

Hi,

I am a guitar player. I want to learn how to use a software synth to emulate acoustic and electric guitars. Is this even possible and if it is which type would be the best place to start? From what I have found out so far, searching the internet, it would be one based on Karplus-Strong technology. Would this be correct?

Thank you in advance for any help,
yeto

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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by Ashe37 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:41 pm

yeto wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:01 pm
Hi,

I am a guitar player. I want to learn how to use a software synth to emulate acoustic and electric guitars. Is this even possible and if it is which type would be the best place to start? From what I have found out so far, searching the internet, it would be one based on Karplus-Strong technology. Would this be correct?

Thank you in advance for any help,
yeto
I learned pretty well on Novation V-Station but there are lots (even free ones) that will do.

I'll reccomend Superwave P8. It can do everything from pretty basic up until more complex sounds, and is free:

http://www.superwavesynths.com/p8

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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by madtheory » Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:58 pm

If you haven't used a synthesizer before, you'll need to learn the basics. That P8 looks fully featured.

I use TAL Noise Maker to teach the basics. It's the best laid out free VST available, and the manual is very clear and easy to follow.

For actually synthesizing guitar, you're kinda stuck. It's not popular, because the guitar is already an extremely popular instrument so hardly anyone needs or wants to synthesize it. This is a KP based synth:
https://puremagnetik.com/products/plect ... ynthesizer
Personally, I use acousticsamples.net when I need a guitar, because I can't play one very well compared to keyboard. That's sampled, not synthesized. It's lovely:

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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by Big Gnome » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:13 pm

I'll second the suggestion of picking up something modest and free to tinker with at first--TAL Noisemaker is a great one as madtheory mentioned. (Also great: u-he Tyrell N6, and Synth1 is a solid workhorse as well.) And I would urge you to learn general synthesis principles. Sound on Sound has an outstanding series on the subject that is extremely thorough.

That being said, I'm of the opinion (as a guitarist myself...) that synthesizing guitars with any sort of verisimilitude is kind of a fool's errand. Karplus-Strong is a good waveguide model of a plucked string, but it doesn't particularly sound very guitar-like (I think on its own it does a tolerable impression of something like a nylon stringer with a piezo pickup). You might get some okay mileage out of processing such a signal through a resonator or a convolution reverb loaded with an impulse response of an actual guitar body, as KS really just models the vibrating string and not the body; but there are a bunch of other considerations at play (phrasing, minor variations in timbre and pitch from string to string, a certain amount of "crosstalk" at the bridge, especially with acoustic guitars that just have a single saddle, and so forth). Samples will always sound more accurate for acoustic instruments, but, for me at least, "fake" guitars almost always fall squarely in the uncanny valley.

You'd have better luck with electrics since the base timbre is so much simpler than acoustics'--you could probably get away with a KS string model, or even just a dulled-down pulse wave tone as long as you treat the signal downstream of that as you would a real guitar and let that do the heavy lifting--e.g., amp & cabinet simulation (or even the real deal), a selection of typical guitar effects such as compression, overdrive, chorus, spring reverb, delay, etc.

Also vitally important is to play like a guitar player would. But still don't get your hopes up. My best advice is not to try to accurately mimic a guitar but rather program something unselfconsciously synthetic that cops some of the "attitude" of a guitar. Best of luck!
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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by yeto » Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:58 am

Ashe37 wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:41 pm
yeto wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:01 pm
Hi,

I am a guitar player. I want to learn how to use a software synth to emulate acoustic and electric guitars. Is this even possible and if it is which type would be the best place to start? From what I have found out so far, searching the internet, it would be one based on Karplus-Strong technology. Would this be correct?

Thank you in advance for any help,
yeto
I learned pretty well on Novation V-Station but there are lots (even free ones) that will do.

I'll reccomend Superwave P8. It can do everything from pretty basic up until more complex sounds, and is free:

http://www.superwavesynths.com/p8
Thank you...this is helpful.

yeto
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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by yeto » Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:02 pm

madtheory wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:58 pm
If you haven't used a synthesizer before, you'll need to learn the basics. That P8 looks fully featured.

I use TAL Noise Maker to teach the basics. It's the best laid out free VST available, and the manual is very clear and easy to follow.

For actually synthesizing guitar, you're kinda stuck. It's not popular, because the guitar is already an extremely popular instrument so hardly anyone needs or wants to synthesize it. This is a KP based synth:
https://puremagnetik.com/products/plect ... ynthesizer
Personally, I use acousticsamples.net when I need a guitar, because I can't play one very well compared to keyboard. That's sampled, not synthesized. It's lovely:
Thank you...that looks interesting. I will give it a try.

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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by yeto » Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:07 pm

Big Gnome wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:13 pm
I'll second the suggestion of picking up something modest and free to tinker with at first--TAL Noisemaker is a great one as madtheory mentioned. (Also great: u-he Tyrell N6, and Synth1 is a solid workhorse as well.) And I would urge you to learn general synthesis principles. Sound on Sound has an outstanding series on the subject that is extremely thorough.

That being said, I'm of the opinion (as a guitarist myself...) that synthesizing guitars with any sort of verisimilitude is kind of a fool's errand. Karplus-Strong is a good waveguide model of a plucked string, but it doesn't particularly sound very guitar-like (I think on its own it does a tolerable impression of something like a nylon stringer with a piezo pickup). You might get some okay mileage out of processing such a signal through a resonator or a convolution reverb loaded with an impulse response of an actual guitar body, as KS really just models the vibrating string and not the body; but there are a bunch of other considerations at play (phrasing, minor variations in timbre and pitch from string to string, a certain amount of "crosstalk" at the bridge, especially with acoustic guitars that just have a single saddle, and so forth). Samples will always sound more accurate for acoustic instruments, but, for me at least, "fake" guitars almost always fall squarely in the uncanny valley.

You'd have better luck with electrics since the base timbre is so much simpler than acoustics'--you could probably get away with a KS string model, or even just a dulled-down pulse wave tone as long as you treat the signal downstream of that as you would a real guitar and let that do the heavy lifting--e.g., amp & cabinet simulation (or even the real deal), a selection of typical guitar effects such as compression, overdrive, chorus, spring reverb, delay, etc.

Also vitally important is to play like a guitar player would. But still don't get your hopes up. My best advice is not to try to accurately mimic a guitar but rather program something unselfconsciously synthetic that cops some of the "attitude" of a guitar. Best of luck!
Thank you for taking time to reply.

I am going to start by studying the SoundonSound courses that you referenced.

Kind regards,
yeto

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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by madtheory » Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:55 pm

yeto wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:07 pm
I am going to start by studying the SoundonSound courses that you referenced.
If I may share my experience of teaching this stuff on a first year degree course- the SOS series is very detailed. A beginner would find it frustrating. I wouldn't recommend starting with that.

I use an edited version of the TAL manual as the notes for the course. It's only edited because I have a limited amount of time to fit synthesis basics into the course schedule. The manual as it stands is very accessible for a beginner.

The TAL probably isn't a fantastic sounding synth, but it does the basics really well. The layout is the clearest and most logical of all the free synth VSTs- I've tried them all. Students who are beginners find them confusing.

In my opinion as a teacher, the SOS course would be stage two, it's a course you can keep referring to (I still do sometimes) and would get you to expert level.

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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:29 pm

I agree with madtheory. TAL is perfect for learning subtractive synthesis because it is so basic.

The SOS articles go into a lot of topics that are important to a full understanding of how sounds are created but for a beginner it can be overwhelming. At no point do they get into "how to make slamming basses and screaming leads", most of it is about emulation of instruments like strings, brass, piano, drums, etc. I.e. what makes a violin and a flute sound different. This is so the reader can develop an ear for how subtle aspects of different sounds are synthesized. One of the best things about the SOS series is it shows how to make similar sounds with different synths and how/why the feature set of a synth affects fine details of the sound.
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Re: Newbie wants to learn how to use a software synth...which would be best?

Post by ricky miller » Fri Apr 24, 2020 3:43 pm

Other members already suggested this and I am gonna say the same here that TAL Noisemaker is an ideal choice for beginners. Just go for it.

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