Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules! This is going to be a slightly different one as I’ll sort of be talking about TWO products this time instead of the usual one. The main review is about Ample Sound’s excellent Ample Guitar TC II, but I’ll also be talking about Jamstik+, a really cool guitar instructional tool that doubles as a MIDI guitar. While I’ll eventually be doing a full review of the Jamstik+, I had just gotten it when I received this new Ample Guitar software, and since their products are setup to quickly and easily use with a MIDI guitar, I figured it would be a great match.
Before diving any further into the review, take a listen to the demo I made called “Stand Up.”
Ample Guitar TC II is a wonderfully sampled Fender Telecaster (John English Masterbuilt). Ample Sound is known for high quality guitar samples, and this package is no different. Everything is sampled in ways to make any playing style from chords, hammer ons & pull offs to sustained notes, slides and palm mutes sound realistic. The VST you use to control the guitar offers tons of controls to make the guitar playing feel real, even when playing on a keyboard.
While you can just play around on the keyboard with things just left to their defaults and get quite a great sound, the options available are incredibly robust. Settings for playing style are the beginning of it, but there’s also a tab player that lets you load in actual guitar tab to let the software play for you, and a strummer function that lets you “strum” different patterns and chords. Again, it all sounds incredibly real and warm and beautiful.
In my demo, “Stand Up,” I’m playing three layers of Ample Guitar. Two of them are played through the keyboard, although one is left fairly dry and the other run through some Guitar Rig 5 effects. The third was played through my Jamstik+ to add some actual strumming to the mix. A couple other sources were used as well to fill out the song and make it rock. I’m not the best guitar player, but I’m learning (and Jamstik is helping!). Since I’ve been doing many of the Jamstik tutorials and lessons lately (which like I said, I’ll be reviewing in a future This Thing Rules), I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to test out Jamstik’s MIDI Guitar capabilities.
Quite frankly, there’s not that much to say about it… It just works! I’ve always wanted a MIDI guitar, and the Jamstik works great. For those that are reading this and aren’t musicians and don’t know, when musicians use a keyboard to play samples and synth sounds through their computer, they’re usually using a MIDI keyboard. MIDI is the technology that lets you control those sounds that are in your computer software with that keyboard. Well a MIDI guitar works in pretty much the same way, except it’s a guitar, allowing you to strum and pick and play in all the ways that guitars differ from keyboards… Now in this example I’m using the MIDI guitar to play guitar sounds… Which may beg the question – why not just play a real guitar? Well it’s a good question, but I’ve got a good answer… with MIDI you are presented with all the notes you just played and can edit and adjust each individual note. It provides a great level of control over the performance that you just can’t get with a real guitar… especially if you’re not a great player… And I’m not a great player. Another cool thing about using a MIDI guitar is that you can play other instruments too. Play a piano with it, or a violin or even drums. Since you’re just controlling the instrument on your computer the same way we usually do with a keyboard, there’s no limit to what you can try with the a MIDI Guitar… But I’ll save any deeper discussion of that for my full Jamstik+ review.
Back to Ample Guitar TC II, I’d like to again make it clear that I’m not a guitar player. I dabble and can throw some chords together, but I am not a guitar player. That said, playing the little bit of guitar I can play, and adding in Ample Guitar to fill in what I can’t do is going to be a huge plus moving forward in my career. It’s so realistic (especially if you take the time to play with the settings and articulations, as well as adding effects to get it to sound its best), that I really believe that even the most hardcore would be hard pressed to tell the difference. In the time it’s taken me to write this review, I’ve already used Ample Guitar on 3 songs on my upcoming third album. Adding guitar with a real guitar is tough for me because of my novice abilities, but adding Ample Guitar makes it possible.
Like a real guitar, Ample Guitar TC II is something that will only get better as I continue to use it… Like they always say – practice makes perfect. And don’t worry, I’m practicing the real guitar too haha.
Ample Guitar TC II is available now from Ample Sound for $119. I definitely recommend checking out the demos on their site to get an even bigger sense of what can be done with it. I’ll be continuing to use it for a long time, and probably adding more of the Ample Sound libraries to my collection in the future.
David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on theABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.