Review – Poetic Guitars II by Bestservice.de
Our reviewer looks at Poetic Guitars II and finds much to appreciate, which is no small matter since he’s an accomplished guitarist to begin with. Find out more in this review.
by A. Arsov, Jan. 2014
To Be or Not To Be …
This library is a bit tricky. First of all, it is important to know what you can do and what you can’t do with it. Poetic Guitar II is represented as an overall replacement for a guitar player (according to the demo video clips), but this is not totally true. Once everything comes to its place, you will figure that it is not an overpriced product, no matter that you can’t really play fast guitar solos with it, and that for playing realistic guitar rhythm patterns you still need to be a bit more than a solid keyboard player. It is not overpriced because the overall sampling quality is great. If you are playing some arpeggiated chords or some slower guitar patterns, it is easy to fool even guitar players into believing that they hear a real guitar. The same goes for the rhythm patterns, which are an especially great spicing tool for any sort of arrangement, especially if you are not a guitar player. I’m a guitar player, and I have to admit that I’m impressed with these rhythm patterns, but it looks like I’m a bit too lousy of a keyboard player to recreate them live (but a touch of programming can make wonders;) ). Also, putting the whole thing through some guitar amp can bring a whole new life into this library, no matter that the source is an acoustic guitar tone, not an electric one.
Complaints, Complaints …
I presume that at this point the developer has already stabbed some needle into the voodoo doll with my name on it, so I should substantiate my charge regarding the fast solo parts. Playing a guitar solo is not so straightforward a thing. As far as I remember, only two or three guitar players play almost every note with both hands: John Williams, Paco de Lucia, Joe Pass and maybe some other jazz guitar players that I’m not aware of. Most others use many tricks, like hammering, playing with plectrum or finger just the first note and then hammering all the other notes at the same string just with fingers from the left hand, banding and many other dirty tricks. Nevertheless, even if you play all notes of the phrase, the attack is not always the same because the angle of the finger on the right hand is not constantly the same. Also, if you play fast parts with a plectrum, every second note is played from down to up making a different tone, and the same goes for the attack on every second note when you are playing with fingers. If you play phrases with two fingers, every second note has far less attack than the first one played with the index finger. Even more tricky is when guitar is played with three fingers of the right hand.
Guitar is a very dynamic instrument, so every played phrase contains far more dynamics than is represented in this library. The first note is almost always played a bit harder — not just the first note of the phrase, but almost every first note whenever you change to a different string. And then if we again consider the fact that every second note has a different character from the first one, you will soon notice that almost every guitar library needs some additional heavy programming to simulate this playing technique. Till now, I haven’t found any guitar library that sounds like a real guitar when you are playing fast solo parts through a keyboard. The machine-gun effect can sound good on a banjo, but it is a no-go with a guitar.
OK, here comes the moment where I hear the developer screaming that his library contains all those techniques and that all those techniques are explained in the user manual. It is true, but somehow no matter how much programming you put inside fast solo parts, the result still doesn’t sound natural, at least to my ears, as I’ve been playing guitar for almost all my life.
Praise, Praise …
For €149 EUR you will get very realistic acoustic and classical guitar, that can add some live feel to your artificial arrangements, while rhythm parts can shoot your choruses directly up to the sky. I’m more than a solid guitar player, and I even toyed with the thought to use this for my choruses as it sounds really good, realistic with a very tight timing — perfect for pop production. Also some slowly played arpeggiated chords could sound really beautiful, ideal for intros, middle parts or anywhere else where you need to calm down things in your arrangement. After all, the whole thing costs the same as some average VST instrument or effect, so for that money you can buy yourself something that will bring some difference into your analogue modeling world.
The whole library takes less then six GB of your disk space, and you get three general guitar modes: Acoustic guitar played by pick, Acoustic guitar played by fingers, and Classical guitars played by fingernails. It is a matter of taste, and I prefer the first one, but as I say, generally the sound for all three models is very realistic. There is also fret noise which is automatically added when you change some notes, so it is really hard to distinguish between the real guitar and Poetic Guitar II, even for me, and I have been playing guitar for almost all my life. The graphical interface is pretty straightforward, but as there are many key-switches, you will need to pinch your nose in the manual to get an idea how everything works. There are plenty of guitar techniques placed on the lower keys such as harmonics, hammer-on technique, pull off, slide up and down for chords, while muting and strum modes are on the upper keys of the keyboard. The general idea and the whole setup for playing strumming chords is excellent, but as I wrote before, you should be more than a solid keyboard player, or you should spend some extra time inserting notes manually for achieving realistic-sounding rhythmical parts. After some practice I got some decent results playing live, but we should be fair and admit that the whole strum system technique is a god’s gift anyway (even for us solid atheists) and it can really make madness out of your choruses adding some extra live energy. You can even fine-tune your strum patterns in the Strum sequencer where you can define the way in which the chord will be strummed.
There is also a nice bank of additional effects, most of them pretty solid. Distortion is only one, let’s say a bit less solid, but I presume that you will use some third-party virtual amp for that purpose anyway, so having one not-so-inspiring effect among bunch of useful other ones is not such an unforgivable thing.
The whole library offers a great number of controllers, for my taste even too many, but if you take some extra time, you could easily get some realistic results. Just don’t try to overdo it. Poetic Guitar II has its drawbacks, but at the same time it offers a few such almost unmissable additions to your arrangement that it is worth every penny you pay for it, especially if you are not a guitar player. So far, no matter how much I complained at the beginning, it is one of the best libraries for arpeggiated guitar intros or backgrounds, and the same for strumming chords, that can be heard in many choruses in numerous Top-40 songs.
For more info, demo audio and video clips, visit Bestservice.de