Points of Kontakt – Wurl-E Studio from Indiginus
Indiginus delivers another quality gem: a clean, inexpensive sampled Wurlitzer Model 200 electric piano that you won’t have any trouble finding a place for in your mix.
by Dave Townsend, May 2017
In our Points of Kontakt series, we focus on the smaller Kontakt libraries that, while they might not light up the internet the way a new behemoth cinematic orchestral collection can, are still worthy of consideration due to price and/or uniqueness. Many are odd, unusual, or specialty instruments that fill a niche.
For a change of pace, this month’s installment highlights one that’s not the least bit weird. Rather, it’s a straight up bread-and-butter electric piano that you won’t have any trouble finding a place for in your mix. It’s from Indiginus, so if you’re familiar with that company’s products you already know what to expect: quality sound, simple interface, low price, fun to play – but not loaded with too many extraneous bells ‘n whistles.
Indiginus’ Wurl-E Studio is a vintage Wurlitzer Model 200 electric piano, the most sought-after model in the Wurlitzer EP lineup. Introduced in 1968, the Model 200 quickly became a favorite of rock and jazz keyboardists due to its light weight and compact size, but mostly because of its rough-edged character. Although its sound could be quite tame when played lightly, nobody played it lightly. It was that crunch and bark when you’d punch it that made the 200 so well-suited to rock ‘n roll, blues, funk, and fusion.
They heyday of the Model 200 was in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and the last one rolled out the door in 1982. Consequently, any Wurly you come across today is probably pretty road-worn and in need of refurbishment. A fair amount of fixing-up was performed on this one before it was sampled. One of the fixes was the addition of noise reduction, which some purists might take issue with. After all, the Wurly’s flaws were part of its charm. But this mod allowed for pristine samples to be collected, and of course if you really want some hiss in there you can easily get that with your own amp sim.
Speaking of amp sims, like all Kontakt-based instruments Wurl-E Studio uses the standard Kontakt amp/speaker sims. However, Indiginus created their own impulse response from a Fender Twin Reverb for greater authenticity. Back in the day, you’d have likely seen Wurlys running through Fender amps more than any other. In addition to the built-in Fender, I also tried Wurl-E Studio with other third-party amp sims, and found that although I liked the built-in Twin a lot for polite sounds, I preferred using an external sim when going for nastier tones.
Unlike most EPs of the day, the Wurlitzer featured two small built-in speakers, facing the player. These were not adequate for stage volumes, so external amplification was nearly always used. But players really liked how those little built-in speakers sounded on their own. Luckily for us, the sampled version of the instrument lets us have both internal and external amplification. Well, actually, there are three options: on-board speakers, a clean line out, or run through the amp sim. In addition, the unamplified sounds of the mechanics have also been sampled. A mixer lets you select any combination of them.
The UI consists of a simple mixer and equally simple effects controls. In addition to the “vibrato” (actually tremolo) found on the real instrument, we’ve also got all the effects that Wurly players often played through: compression, tempo-synced delay, phaser, flanger and reverb. Click on each one to expose their controls.
Warning: for some reason, turning up the flanger also turns up the volume. So be careful.
There is also an interesting innovation here, labeled “Pulse”, a versatile tempo-synced tremolo effect. The piano is amplitude-modulated by two LFOs (a square wave and a sawtooth) that can be synced to separate subdivisions (e.g. 8th-notes) of the project tempo. Using the square wave yields a stutter-type gated effect, while the sawtooth gives a smooth modulation. The Pan knob turns the modulation into a Rhodes-type ping-pong stereo effect.
This instrument is so simple that you won’t really need presets to get started, but sixteen of them are provided to give you an idea of the range of sounds Wurl-E Studio is capable of. You can also save your own presets.
All in all, this is a solid, practical bread ‘n butter instrument. At $59 USD it’s also one of the least- expensive Wurly libraries around. Full Kontakt 5.5 or higher is required, and it’s download-only (1GB). Listen to and/or purchase it at the Indiginus site: