Note: Keywords printed italic refer to parameter or section names you will also find elsewhere in this manual.
The video below gives you a 2-minute rundown for your quick start to Virtual Guitarist CARBON.
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 CARBON. After this you will have a good basic understanding of the instrument and how to use it.
We assume you have Virtual Guitarist CARBON opened in your DAW. Ideally you have a MIDI controller connected, otherwise use the interactive keyboard.
Make a sound and learn about chords
- With Player Mode selected, play F#3 or a higher note. Your guitarist will start playing. Play a few notes and get a feel for how it works.
Try the Presets
- At the very top of the Virtual Guitarist CARBON window you can load presets. A preset is always a complete setting of Virtual Guitarist CARBON, i.e. it will change the performance as well as the guitar and effects.
The Preset will not change between Player mode and Instrument mode, simply because that’s really not what you’d want. Also, Latch is not saved or changed with Presets.
- At this point, just go through different presets to get an impression of the musical and sonic palette of Virtual Guitarist CARBON.
Tell your player what you want
- In Player mode, activate the latch button on the far left above the interactive keyboard. Now Virtual Guitarist CARBON 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, F#2 – E3. Go upwards and notice how the phrasing gets more intense. Try black keys which let you throw in riffs in many styles. These are the phrases you can replace by loading different Styles. Let’s do just that now:
- Load different styles by clicking a Style name or the arrows above the interactive keyboard. You will notice that your guitar player masters a vast range of playing techniques and musical genres.
- Now try keys in the C♯1 – F2 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. There are a few specials like Ends and Shreds worth trying.
- Interrupt your player temporarily by holding the silence key (C1). Playing will continue when you play another note. Now stop your player by pressing or clicking the stop key (F3).
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.
Melodic vs. Style chords
- Switch between SINGLE and CHORDS mode and notice how SINGLE mode Carbon is optimized for melodic riffs, while CHORDS mode lets you play up to 4-voice chords.
- Try the KEY parameter to and notice how it “locks” your keyboard into a certain scale. This is a nice helping hand if you’re not too familiar with keyboard playing.
More performance tweaking fun
- Have Virtual Guitarist CARBON keep playing. Open the Micro Timing menu by clicking the menu icon in the top right corner.
- The speed switch lets you set Virtual Guitarist CARBON to half time or double time – this comes in extremely handy when you like a particular style that plays half- or double-time relative to your existing arrangement.
- 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. Maybe play a drum loop along for better comparison.
- 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.
Play the guitar yourself
If you’re a prolific keyboard player, you might as well play the entire guitar yourself:
- Switch Virtual Guitarist to Instrument mode using the top center switch. Close the timing menu first if still open.
- Note how the interactive keyboard reflects the new mode – here, all keys from F#3 upwards play notes, while the key range below lets you play dead notes, mutes, sustains, shreds and repetitions. Experiment with your left hand while your right hand plays chord changes or melodic riffs.
- Activate Legato Mode by pressing D#2 and notice how melodic riffs now sound much more guitar-like.
Guitar style playing
- A not so obvious but cool feature is the guitar-style playing mode. Activate Latch in Instrument Mode to turn it on.
- When guitar-style playing mode is active, you can also trigger notes hitting the Articulation keys with your left hand while your right hand changes the notes – pretty much like a guitarist does it with one hand stroking the strings and the other working the fretboard.
Find your guitar sound
Let’s look at the bottom half of the Virtual Guitarist CARBON window. Here you set up the guitar and the amps, and you can shape the sound in almost any way you like.
- Activate Player mode and Latch and keep playing while you tweak controls.
- First, play with the CONDITION Notice how it changes the character of the guitar sound by switching from one ultra amp array to the other.
- Now experiment with the SEVERITY On conventional amps, this knob would be called “Drive” or “Gain”. Severity does a bunch of well-adjusted things inside the amp array, practically controlling the level and depth of distortion. As the knob colors indicate, turning it up to clock position 2 overdrives the amps at a “healthy” level, whereas going beyond pushes them into insane mode, with sometimes brittle and unstable, but interesting results.
- With the Focus knob you can change the character of your guitar sound easy and quick, while the filter knob lets you create cool risers and intros by controlling a bi-directional synthesizer filter.
- Some people on the UJAM team think that so far you’ve only seen half the fun of Carbon, because the other half is the Finisher. It lets you mangle and twist the sound of Carbon in a lot of ways – from subtle adjustments to total craziness. Let’s try it:
- While having Carbon keeping playing, click through the Finisher Presets by using the arrow buttons underneath the Mode knob (or turning the knob, or selecting presets from the menu that opens when you click the Preset name)
- In every Preset you try, turn the Modwheel or the Finisher knob up and down and listen for the alterations in the sound! A complete guide to Finisher Presets is included in the Reference section.
- The Layerer at the bottom of the Carbon user interface is a virtual 3D-stage that lets you stack and position up to four Carbons on top of each other. Each individual guitarist sports their own amp stack and Finisher! From a tiny campfire guitar in space to a Monster Wall of Doom, it’s your choice.
- Switch between the Single, Double, Triple and Quadro settings and watch the Layerer stage display.
- Turn the Distance knob in the various modes to see how it moves the sound backwards in the virtual room.
- Try Spread and Separation in various modes as well and notice how they affect the sound – again, watch the virtual stage to see those changes reflected graphically.
By now, you have a pretty good first impression of what Carbon can do! Keep playing and experimenting. There’s nothing to break. When you’re done, just start laying down tracks or continue to the Reference Guide for more detailed information.