There’s no shortage of incredible professional guitar libraries on the market for KONTAKT and KONTAKT PLAYER, but for the producer in need of just the occasional rhythm guitar track or background lick for use as a component within a beat, their equally ‘pro’ pricetags can be hard to swallow. Thankfully, though, there are also numerous excellent free alternatives out there with which to work convincing axes into your dance and pop productions – here are five of the best, complete with audio examples. As ever, just make sure you’re using the full version of KONTAKT.
1. 8dio Songwriting Guitar
Aimed at songwriters looking to conjure up instant acoustic and electric guitar parts for compositional purposes, 8dio’s cleverly constructed library lets you trigger major and minor chord loops in all 12 keys, with four keyswitching strumming rhythms and 12 keyswitching effects. Three guitars are involved – an ESP LTD Deluxe, an Epiphone Custom and a Fender Strat TexMex, all plugged into a 1962 Drawmer preamp – and you get a good degree of governance over the sound thanks to the onboard EQ, envelope controls, filter and LFO-driven gate. As well as the main rhythm guitar instrument, you get four ‘Licks’ patches, too, each providing a collection of riffs, widdles and incidental bits and pieces for elaborating on the central strums.
Although evidently intended to serve as a pre-production tool first and foremost, there’s no reason why Songwriting Guitar shouldn’t also be used in actual projects – it sounds great, and is certainly more versatile than first appearances might lead you to believe.
2. Impact Soundworks Shreddage 3 Stratus Free
Impact Soundworks’ Shreddage series of massively multisampled virtual electric guitars is widely acclaimed for its dazzling sound and stellar playability, and Stratus Free gives you more than just a taste of the full Shreddage 3 Stratus. Capturing a Fender Stratocaster in four articulations (Sustains, Palm Mutes, Release Noises and Chokes) over three octaves (12 frets), with up to three dynamic layers and four round robins, it’s easily enough to get the job done for mix-ready lead and rhythm parts, the latter assisted by the handy Strumming mode. The beautiful scripted interface puts keyswitch-based performance control front and centre; up to 16 effects can be racked up from a library of 30 guitar-orientated modules; and the TACT (Total Articulation Control Technology) page facilitates customization of the Sustain and Mute articulation mappings.
Letting you get to grips with the majority of the full Shreddage 3 feature set, and drawing on enough of the Stratus samplebank to make it genuinely useful in its own right, Stratus 3 Free is an essential download for every KONTAKT user.
3. Pettinhouse Funky Guitar
The free predecessor to Pettinhouse’s Funky Guitar 2 works 450MB of Fender Stratocaster loops and one-shots into three separate KONTAKT instruments: Funky Guitar, Funky Guitar Strum and Funky Guitar Muted. Strum and Muted map strummed and picked rhythm guitar loops across the keyboard, with keyswitching groove variations, plus interjectory licks in the Strum NKI, and velocity-controlled open and muted articulations in the Muted version. Funky Guitar, meanwhile, is a regular playable multisample patch with keyswitching ‘slide up’ articulation. The scripted interface common to all three instruments offers amp simulation (six models), EQ, overdrive, mod wheel-controlled wah-wah, and one-knob reverb, delay and phaser effects.
Funky Guitar’s three patches give you everything you need to create vibey rhythm guitar tracks in great detail, and the clean production of the source samples makes tailoring it to the mix a cinch.
4. KONTAKT's Band ensemble
Our own KOMPLETE START package nets you a couple of tasty free guitar libraries alongside a wealth of other sampled instruments, synths and effects. Jazz Guitar and Rock Guitar are part of the Band collection of 13 KONTAKT libraries (which also includes basses, drums, keys and more), and both share a common scripted interface that enables adjustment of tuning and velocity response, as well as randomization of volume, velocity, pan and pitch. Plenty of sound shaping is on offer via the Tone and Pickup controls, and a variety of effects, including one-knob wah-wah, distortion, overdrive and compression modules, and master reverb, three-band graphic EQ and 11 cabinet simulations; and the Noise knob introduces fret and string noise for heightened realism. A solid option for quick and easily adaptable guitar parts.
5. Samplephonics Ronroco
For the final entry, we’re stretching the definition of “guitar” a little – but it’s worth it. The ronroco is a characterful lute-like instrument from Bolivia that employs ten nylon strings in five double courses, tuned to a very specific set of intervals. This KONTAKT-hosted emulation from Samplephonics comes in two NKIs: Ronroco Loops and Ronroco Multisamples. The first puts a sizable collection of tempo-synced loops in six distinct styles and a comprehensive array of chords at your fingertips for user-configurable MIDI triggering; and Ronroco Multisamples, as you’d expect, maps all the single notes produced by the instrument up the keyboard for real-time play. Both Instruments incorporate five mixable (level and pan) mic channels (Mono, Stereo Left/Right, Room Left/Right), and fully tweakable reverb and delay effects.
Ronroco’s dualist nature, and the sheer quality of the recordings at its core, make it a must-have for authentic South American rhythm and solo guitar lines alike.