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Find how a virtual guitar instrument/library emulating the legendary Rickenbacker guitar compares with the Real Arsov – winner takes all.

by A. Arsov, Jan 2015


Real Arsov vs. RealRick


Real Rick, a virtual guitar instrument, is a sample based recreation of legendary Rickenbacker guitar. “OK, I’m a guitar player and this seems a bit useless for me.” That was my first thought, but during the test period I’ve discovered that, after all, since I don’t own a twelve-string guitar, maybe I can use it in some arrangements. Digging deeper, I’ve found also that rhythmical parts, so called patterns, are so amusing and come in such quantity and diversity that they could be useful even for me, a skilled guitar player. After all, I’m not always up for taking my axe out of the box, practicing, recording and editing, if I all I need is some background guitar rhythms for completing some EDM choruses or building a tension in a second verse or middle eight. Playing a bit more with my new toy, I’ve also realized that this library has some hidden gems not evident in the only video clip that presents it. I’m talking about some really cool-sounding palm mute sounds that could be velocity controlled, and also options for trills where you can set speed and note intervals. Most of the time, I delete various guitar libraries from my disk as soon as I’ve finished with a review. It looks like this one will stay with me. After all, Rickenbacker guitars, which were used by many famous guitarists and bands, have been always something special, with an immediately recognizable sound. In particular, this one proved to be really playable, even without tweaking any of the endless number of parameters that may be controlled.

The truth is: you can’t play some classical rock guitar solos using this virtual instrument / sample library. To be precise, you can’t do this with any guitar virtual instrument because somehow those tamed-and-polished defined attacks are not something that you can hear in real guitar solos. But if the library is well balanced and professionally recorded, then it is hard to recognize the real from the fake by listening to the various rhythmical guitar parts, phrases played on a lower string. This is where Real Rick really shines. The same it goes for rhythmical chord patterns. It could be that they are a bit too quantized compared to the real thing, but again, I also use heavy quantization on my recording take whenever I’m recording my guitars for EDM purposes. Slight rhythmical changes can make wonders in rock music, but when the kick starts beating in EDM, those changes could really kill the overall impression. Whether quantization up or down, who cares when we get such an impressive number of diverse patterns organized by genre inside the Pattern window. I give thumbs up for such a good pattern library, and, in addition, another thumb up for the overall sound. Real Rick has got this sound and vibe from the Rockabilly era – clean and punchy with the recognizable Rickenbacker twang.


RealRick comes with its own graphical interface, offering six basic presets, six-string guitar mono and stereo presets, and a really cool sounding twelve-string guitar A and B setup, where A has a third string tuned in octave and B has a third string tuned unison. Also, as on a six-string guitar, we have presets for mono and for stereo. RealRick presets also offer six performance modes: Solo, Harmony, Chords, Bass and Chord, Bass and Pick, and Bass Direct.

In the upper part of the graphical interface there is a virtual fret board showing you what is playing at the moment. The main issue with most guitar libraries is unrealistic sounding chords caused by playing chords in a position which is natural for keyboards but not so much for guitars. With a bit of trial and error, I’ve managed to play proper guitar chords and it sounds pretty cool, so if you are really into realistic emulations, google a few guitars chords, try to recreate them on the keyboard and you will have your own realistic guitar parts. Also there is an option to program chords to match to the guitar chords.

RealRick provides five global MIDI modes. In the first global MIDI mode, you can find some really useful controllers that are reasonably original. Most of them are quite useful (at least for my picky guitarists’ taste, since I really hate when guitar samples are just OK while everything else proves to be useless). The trills function works like a charm, setting it to three semitones along with using 64th notes I got a mandolin sound very appropriate for some intros or middle parts. This was maybe not exactly the same as real thing, but it was far, far away from sounding fake or unnatural. Next is a slider for setting the threshold for palm-mute sound. This palm-mute sound is something that I will definitively use. It sounds really natural and it can absolutely add a live guitar feel.

There are boundless additional options in this first MIDI global mode, like details for fine tuning everything regarding Chord or Solo mode; actually the most useful if these is the Key Switching window where you can connect some playing techniques to some of the lower keys on the keyboard. Regarding all other things – I didn’t elaborate on all the options because most modern plug-ins should work well even with a basic setup. I think that the days of endless programming are the matter of the past. It is nice that this plug-in has all those options, and I really don’t want to sound cynical, but mostly things either work or don’t. All those small details could make a difference, but that is not all that significant. This is a general truth for most sample libraries, not just this one. So if you have lots of extra free time, feel free to explore. For me, this plug-in serves my needs as it is since I know what I can do with it and what I can’t (but no matter that, there are some cool options anyway, like a Wah Wah connected to modulation wheel on keyboard).

Patterns is my favorite MIDI global mode – a pure heaven of various patterns for different genres. It offers the combination of playing the bass note along with chords. Those patterns don’t sound exactly the same as live playing, but I found them even more useful than actual live playing. Playing those patterns live almost always results in some sort of dirty playing that really fits in some rock, pop or folk genres. But all those additional noises make such playing ill-suited for various EDM genres, unless you are really a guitar virtuoso having all six strings all times under control. So, the patterns sound realistic enough, being very clean while at the same time feeling perfect as a background in any modern EDM or even pop genre: ideal for choruses and other occasions where you need a bit fuller sound. It is not as alive as real live sound, but on the other hand, also not as stupidly mechanical as those patterns can typically sound. Secondly, it is possible to drag MIDI patterns to your DAW, or if your DAW doesn’t support this, you can still export it as a MIDI file.

There is also a Joystick MIDI mode for playing chords and notes with additional guitar controllers, I didn’t try this. It is supposed to work best with the PlayStation 3 Guitar Hero 5 guitar controller. There is also a video describing how this works. If you have such a controller, I assume it would be plenty of fun doing this.

Final Chord

This instrument comes with million options, but thankfully the basic sound is good enough that you will probably not need to tweak all of them. If you are not a guitar player, this one could be your ideal solution. It is authentic in the way that sample libraries can be authentic, and if you don’t overdo it, by adding a touch of a virtual guitar amp, you could achieve a result about which no one could say what is a real guitar or what is not. After all, Trentemøller, the well-known electro musician, proved in his interview that his epic guitar riffs where not recorded with a real guitar, since he claims that he is not a good enough guitar player to achieve such a sound. He simply drove some guitar sample libraries through real guitar amps. And even I, a skilled guitar player, thought that was a real guitar, actually one of the best live guitars takes I’ve ever heard!

This virtual instrument / sample library is definitively a good tool – it’s up to you what can be done with it.

You can find more about RealRick here:

Price is the same as it has been for most virtual instruments in the last ten years: €126.75 EUR. OK, I don’t know where they get this exact number, but €130 EUR is pretty fair price for such product.

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