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 SPARKLE. After this you will have a good basic understanding of the instrument and how to use it. We assume you have Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE 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 SPARKLE window. The Interactive Keyboard also doubles as a display for the MIDI notes Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE 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 SPARKLE recognizes 2-note intervals and 3-4 note chords. Play C-GB 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 SPARKLE 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 SPARKLE window you can load presets. A preset is always a complete setting of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, 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 SPARKLE. Optionally, try different Style Phrases by additionally selecting keys in the C♯1 – B♭3 range.
Tell Your Player What to Play
- Activate the Latch button right next to the Style Bar. Now Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE 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 SPARKLE 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 SPARKLE to half time 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 SPARKLE window. Here you set up guitar and amp, sound character and effects.
- Set your player to Latch and keep playing while you tweak controls.
- First, play with the GRIT rotary switch. Notice how it changes the character of the guitar sound, adding just what the name says.
- Now experiment with the GUITAR rotary switch. It offers additional variety by letting you select between different guitar pickups/combinations, from the fullbodied Neck to the more present Bridge.
- The AMP knob lets you choose five different combinations of guitar amps and speakers, each with its distinct sound character, and with increasing “crunch” from top to bottom.
- The DRIVE knob finally lets you overdrive the amp for a crunchier sound.
- Play with different combinations of the GRIT, GUITAR, AMP and DRIVE controls. This way you get a good impression of the sonic range of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE
More Sound Tweaking Fun
- Activate the Drop D button at the lower left. 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 Drop D 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 SPARKLE.
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.