There’s nothing quite like the timeless sound of the electric piano for bringing warm, mellow vibes to any track, and KONTAKT is well catered to in that particular department with a wealth of excellent libraries available, both commercial and free. Here, we’ve pared the latter down to what we reckon are the five most deserving of your bandwidth – a quintet of perfectly viable Rhodes, Wurly and Clav emulations that won’t tax your system or trouble your bank account.
The audio examples accompanying each of our selections were put together by London-based producer and bass player Eun, aka Ian Davies. A veteran KONTAKT user, Eun’s sound is rooted in hip-hop, soul and jazz, and his production and performance talents have been called on by a diverse array of artists including Ego Ella May, Demae, Nubya Garcia and Jake Milliner. Check out his demos below to hear exactly why he’s so in demand…
Big Cat Instruments The W Piano
Sample-based electric pianos don’t come much more straightforward than Big Cat’s lightweight Wurlitzer EP203W emulation. Built on Greg Sullivan’s tidy 6MB multisample bank, The W Piano comprises four velocity layers and enables adjustment of the amp envelope, a basic reverb and a fixed-frequency three-band EQ. Limited editability aside, it sounds great, and that tiny footprint makes it a fine choice for those working on low-powered computers.
Hugo Kant Fender Rhodes
Hugo Kant’s reductive take on the Fender Rhodes boils the sound of perhaps the most revered electric piano of them all down to just 32 full-sustain samples of between five and 14 seconds in length. The simple scripted interface affords control over tremolo speed and depth, overdrive and reverb amount, and cabinet model (accessed via a knob, unusually), so you can dial in just the right amount of lounge bar growl and smokiness. And while, obviously, the low level of sonic detail precludes virtuosic performance, for simple chords and licks, the quality of the recordings and instant tweakability make this one a winner.
Big Cat Instruments The Street Bumper Piano
The second entry by Big Cat in our list is a KONTAKT version of the Fender Rhodes instrument from Sarcyan’s Musyng Kite SoundFont. Five velocity layers ensure a good degree of authenticity and expressiveness, and as well as incorporating a three-band EQ and adjustable tremolo, this one also lets you glam up the sound of the keyboard with a raft of effects, including Delay, Reverb, Phaser, Compressor and Amp simulation. The scripted interface is easy on the eye and logically organised, and The Street Bumper’s lush, warm sound belies its lack of pricetag.
Premier Sound Factory Wurly
With just three controls on the front panel – Tremolo and Reverb amounts (the last featuring five Roland Space Echo and two Studio impulse responses), and Wah filter cutoff frequency – Premier Sound Factory’s gratis Wurlitzer 200A library might be light on processing, but the depth of multisampling it offers is truly impressive. Over five octaves of individual notes have been recorded, with five velocity layers each, while two separate release layers recreate the sounds of the hammer and mute pad, adding greatly to the realism and bringing the sample count up to 386. The end result is a lively, evocative instrument that sounds fabulous and plays beautifully.
KOMPLETE START's E-Piano (Band bank)
Two of 13 instruments in the Band section of the KONTAKT Factory Selection, itself part of the KOMPLETE START package, our own free E-Piano and Clavinet Instruments feature adjustable stereo tremolo and release noise, five (E-Piano) and ten (Clavinet) preset EQ curves, and a clutch of one-knob effects processors: Delay, Phaser, Reverb, Cabinet, three-band graphic EQ, and Saturator (E-Piano) or Wah (Clavinet). Another easy, fuss-free option when you just want to get a quick keyboard riff or chord sequence down, rather than anything requiring the scale and nuance of a full-on commercial library.
Looking for even more free instruments for KONTAKT? Be sure to check out the Free Stuff section right here on the blog.