It doesn’t happen to me very often nowadays because very talented developers have developed the libraries I depend on but every once in a while I come across a product that upon trying it, it makes me less happy with the ones I have been using. The Indiginus StrumMaker IV is such a product. First of all, the guitars sound great and the level of control is so great that it won me over completely.
Indiginus is not an unknown developer to me. I have been using their Delta Blues Ac Slide Guitar and Solid State Symphony for a long time now, so I am not sure why it took me a while to get around to this.
StrumMaker IV is really two Kontakt instruments in one. For one use it is a strummed guitar that you can either play in yourself or use its very powerful pattern sequencer. But it also is a really lovely acoustic guitar for playing non-strummed melodies and parts, using keyswitching to change articulations.
And it costs only $46 USD! Holy No Brainer, Batman!
If you look at Pic 1, you can see three Kontakt 5 keyboard with colored octaves: red, green, and blue. The red octave (C1-B1) plays chords in the strummed pattern you have selected, based on the chord you have assigned to each root note. The green octave (C2-B2) behaves similarly but with single strummed chord downstrokes with the blue octave (C3-B3) for chord upstrokes. The single strummed cords are great for ending or interrupting patterns, or playing in your own patterns.
You can control a whole bunch of this stuff with keyswitches. The black octave of notes (C4-C5) allows transposing by half steps as if you were a real guitar player moving a capo up the frets on the fingerboard. The yellow octave (C5-B5) lets you change between 12 patterns on the fly. And did I mention that you can edit the patterns? You can. More on this later.
The highest colored notes affect muted up and downstrokes, turn Latch on and off, and affect step resolution, e.g., ¼ note. ½ note, etc. This can result in a very powerful workflow, once you master it, as I am just beginning to do.
So let us say I want to play a simple chord progression: C major-Dm-Fm-G sus -G7-to a held C major. In Pic 2, notice that I have selected pattern 1; changed its step resolution to an 8th note; changed the number of steps from the pattern’s default of 16 to 8; adjusted the Strum Speed so that it is a little looser; changed the body of the guitar from Steel String 1 to Steel String 2; and finally, engaged Latch mode. Latch mode is a big deal for me, as it allows me to play the major chord, keyswitch to the minor chord, and then continue playing the minor chords until I keyswitch to a different kind of chord.
I now play it in and in Pic 3, you can see in Logic Pro X’s Score Editor what I played to achieve this progression.
Pic 4 shows you the keyswitches for triggering the different kinds of chords. However, you are not limited to them, You can alter and create any “User” chords just by clicking on the appropriate frets on the fretboard. Incredible amount of functionality!
Just so you know, you don’t have to do any of the chord changes by keyswitching. You can play the root notes and by simply turning the rotary knob you see in Pic 5 to the kind of chord you want, assign it there for each note.
The biggest single change for me to get used to is that with the acoustic guitar library I have been using I was able to play the chords and inversions pianistically and hear the exact notes I am holding down. In all candor, I prefer that but there is so much that this brings to the table that my other library does not that I am willing to adjust. Among the other significant features are:
- You can edit the patterns, adjust the strum strength, change strum direction, make some or all notes muted, and save the patterns.
- You can chain up to 8 patterns together.
- You have 10 body settings, all editable, and you can switch to a 12 string guitar simulation.
- You can display all the frets also with notes or MIDI numbers visible.
As you can guess, the instrument is too deep to cover all its features in depth with pictures here. But it is all in a very well written included PDF manual.
As previously stated, StrumMaker IV also comes with an Acoustic Guitar patch for any non-strummed parts, like solos or flat picking. See Pic 6.
Among its many features are: 6 velocity controlled layers; optional automatic vibrato; 12 string emulation; Round Robin; Amp and Cabinet effects; controls for Hammer-Ons; Slides that can be controlled by the velocities of your choice or by keyswitching; the same editable body choices as the StrumMaker IV.
Once again, it sounds great! The website has lots of audio demos and video walkthroughs.
Price: $46 USD
Requirements: Full retail boxed version of Kontakt 4 or 5.
Pros: Beautifully recorded, does pretty much everything you could want a library like this to do to help you create some realistic guitar parts. Not too steep a learning curve and everything in the GUIs are very clear. Light on CPU.
Cons: Doesn’t recognize chords and inversions you play manually.
Note: While you are there, check out their other fine instruments. I am a big fan especially of the Delta Blues Ac Slide Guitar, Solid State Symphony, and I am starting to become good friends with the Torch Electric Guitar and Renaxxance nylon string guitar. http://indiginus.com/index.html