Note: Keywords printed italic refer to parameter or section names you will also find elsewhere in this manual.
The video below gives you a 6-minute walkthrough for your quick start into the Virtual Guitarist IRON.
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 IRON. After this you will have a good basic understanding of Virtual Guitarist IRON.
We assume you have Virtual Guitarist IRON 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 IRON window.
The Interactive Keyboard also doubles as a display for the MIDI notes Virtual Guitarist IRON 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 different intervals and even create melodic riffs.
- Set the Key value in the Style Bar to D to force Virtual Guitarist IRON to play only chords in the D scale. Set different keys 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 IRON window you can load presets. A preset is always a complete setting of Virtual Guitarist IRON, i.e. it will change the performance as well as the guitar and amp sound. At this point, just go through different presets and try different Style Phrases to get an impression of the musical and sonic palette of Virtual Guitarist IRON.
Tell your player what to play
- Activate the Latch button right next to the Style Bar. Now Virtual Guitarist IRON 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 (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 prase.
More performance tweaking fun
- Keep Virtual Guitarist IRON 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 IRON to half- 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
Now that you know your performer, let’s look at the bottom half of the Virtual Guitarist IRON window. Here you set up your guitar, amp and effects.
- Set your player to Latch and keep playing while you tweak controls
- First, play with the GUITAR rotary switch. Notice how it changes the character
of the guitar sound and compare your impression with the knob labels.
Technically, the GUITAR control switches between different guitar pickups. The pickup is an important element of the guitar sound.
- Now experiment with the @AMP rotary switch. In the real world, this would require an engineer to frantically set up different guitar amps and speaker cabinets per your request. Here, you just turn a knob.
- Notice how the amps sound heavier from Clean to Metal.
- Set the AMP rotary to Cream. Now turn the DRIVE control clockwise, starting
from the leftmost position. Notice how the sound gets more distorted.
- Play with different combinations of the GUITAR, AMP and DRIVE controls. This
way you get a good impression of the sonic range of Virtual Guitarist IRON.
Virtual Guitarist IRON features a built-in amp simulation replicating various vintage tube amplifiers speaker cabinets. Advantage: The amp sound is not baked into the guitar sound - you have full control over the amp sound, and the complex interactions between guitar and amp are happening in real time as you play.
More sound tweaking fun
- Hold D4 (any preset is fine) and activate Drop D at the bottom left of the Virtual Guitarist IRON window. Notice how the phrase drops by an octave – this is the so-called drop tuning that expands the note range by tuning the strings of the guitar two semitones lower – on real guitars, it’s often the E string only. This setting also fattens up the sound and works best with high overdrive levels in the Crunch and Metal AMP settings.
- Keep playing a phrase and push the Doubling button. This adds a second guitar player with a separate guitar and amp setup, and places both at the outer positions of the stereo image, for a dramatically more vivid and powerful sound.
Playing with the built-in effects
We strongly encourage you to use your go-to effects 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 selects the note resolution that works best for your song’s timing and feel.
- Turn up the Chorus knob to add sweet modulation to the sound. It’s all a matter of taste, but Chorus works best with lower DRIVE settings in the Clean and Crisp AMP settings.
- The Reverb adds ambience to the guitar sound. The built-in effect is a spring- type reverb that’s optimal for guitar. If you’re not using external plug-ins, you should always dial in a tiny little reverb, otherwise the guitar sound might be too dry and artificial.
Save the best for last
Maybe you’ve noticed that we have somehow ignored the THRUST knob so far. This knob is a unique feature of Virtual Guitarist IRON. It adds harmonics to the clean GUITAR sound that let you drastically alter the sound character.
- You can actually play with THRUST like with a pedal. Set the THRUST knob to center position, and play with Aftertouch on your MIDI keyboard (or MIDI-learn any other controller). Sounds great right? Thrust will be more obvious towards the Metal AMP setting and at higher DRIVE values.