Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Guitar Tuning Issues and the Perfect Fix

I think that guitar players and guitar techs would all agree that there is nothing more frustrating than a guitar that will not stay in tune.

Your guitar going out of tune can be the thing of nightmares whether on stage, half way through a song or after a few string bends. You hit a chord that sounds something akin to the first chord you ever tried to play.  Your fingers are in exactly the right place, you’ve spent years practising and honing your guitar skills but now you look and sound like a right (insert your own choice of insult here).

There are many reasons for a guitar not staying in tune: old strings, new strings that you haven’t stretched, strings on the wrong way (you’d be surprised!) badly cut nut, the list goes on. Assuming that your guitar is in half decent condition and set up ready to play, I would always go for friction being your issue and the lovely people at Big Bends have a solution for that.

Ladies and Gentlemen I Give You Big Bends NUT SAUCE!!!

(Ok stop sniggering……….I do not find the name of this product in the least bit funny and I have never made any childish comments at all.)

Back to business. As a guitar tech and a guitar player I have tried many different tricks and products to keep the string moving freely through the nut and this product is the best I have used. If you are tuning up and you hear a metallic “ping” or if you find any string slightly sharp after bending, the odds are on that the string is catching in the nut slot. Loosen the strings and clean the slots of the nut on your guitar and apply a small amount of nut sauce into the slots then tune your guitar back to pitch. It really is that simple! Use this every time you change your strings and your guitar nut will stay lubricated and clean. Application is easy thanks to the………erm….. applicator and it does not spill anywhere it is not wanted. It is also ideal to add to your string saddles as this is your next point of friction. Here it can help to reduce string breakage and will also reduce the wear on the saddles. Tremolo systems, from vintage to Floyd Rose styles, benefit from a little nut sauce on the pivot points, keeping everything moving freely with reduced friction, which increases tuning stability at all points on the guitar.

You are now free to bend that g-string as much as you like, in the knowledge that it will always end up back where it’s supposed to be. (You can’t have expected me not to have gone school boy humour at some point!)

All the guitars at Scan are inspected and set-up before they are sent out to you the customer and Big Bends Nut Sauce is always on our set up benches to be applied as part of our set up routine.

Sometimes the smallest purchases can make the biggest difference to you guitar; this is definitely one of them!

 

 

 

 

 

Novation Launchpad Arcade is Ready To Take Off

I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen videos of somebody going absolutely savage on a grid based controller – finger drumming, launching clips, crazy light shows and all sorts of other audiovisual trickery. I also imagine a lot of people watch on in awe wishing they had just a sliver of the technical prowess required to pull off such feats.

Well, good news everyone (insert Prof. Farnsworth meme here). Novation have devised an interactive website designed to help you hone your skills to become a Launchpad legend and think of ways to implement the Launchpad into your musical and visual creations. Now it’s not just a website where you have to use your mouse or keyboard (although keyboard control is supported), it’s designed to connect to a real Launchpad unit which takes the interaction to a whole new level!

The content will be released in a sequence of steps, the 1st is Launchpad Arcade which gives you access to a load of one-shots and samples from Harry Coade – Found Sound. The next steps will cover everything from rhythm practice, choosing a Launchpad, creating lightshows, building an online presence and getting to know your Launchpad inside out.

Head over to the new site at https://uk.novationmusic.com/launch-6-steps and check out Step 1.

Tips & Tricks: Kontakt Optimization – The Purge Function

Keeping in line with my recent tips on how to optimize Kontakt, here’s a great way of conserving memory. This is something that could prove to be invaluable for composers in particular due to the nature of the instruments they’ll typically be hosting in their templates. Large multi-sampled orchestral libraries can potentially use large amounts of RAM. Keeping that memory footprint as small as possible is important for obvious reasons.

Utilizing the purge function can free up RAM by unloading any unused samples. Some libraries allow you to do this from within the library UI whereby you’re able to deselect certain articulations or disable certain mic positions. This can be seen in Spitfire Audio’s Albion One Library below.

Here’s the available functions available in the Purge menu:

  • Reset Markers – When a sample is played it marks it as being used by Kontakt. This function removes the markers but doesn’t purge anything so keeps the samples loaded.
  • Update Sample Pool – Purges all the unused samples
  • Purge All Samples – Unloads all samples
  • Reloads All Samples – Loads all samples contained within the instrument

There’s a few ways you can go about implementing the integrated purge function. You could start with all samples within an instrument loaded (like it loads up by default). Once you’ve successfully laid down your part you could then simply reset the markers, run through the part from start to finish, then update the sample pool. This will unload any unused samples.

Alternatively, you could start with all samples purged within an instrument. Then as you input your MIDI it’ll load the used samples in on the fly. It’s important to bear in mind if you decide to use this method and you’re using hard disk drives to host your samples, you may experience a few clicks/pops/missing notes on the first run through as the samples load from the disk. I’d certainly recommend using SSDs if you use this method.

Notice the yellow indicator below after purging the Armageddon Ensemble patch (form Heavyocity’s Damage library), then playing a few notes. Also note the amount of RAM used!

DFD (Direct From Disk) settings should also be considered here. When using DFD, only the first part of the sample is loaded into the RAM. The DFD buffer setting determines how much of the sample is pre-loaded into the memory. Lower settings load less of the sample into the memory so will decrease your memory footprint. As more of the sample is being loaded directly from the disk it goes without saying that SSDs will perform better than mechanical disks.

Working with a large template and having every sample in every patch loaded may not be the most efficient way of working. Using this method, you could theoretically build a template consisting of many patches, each with the samples unloaded whilst keeping your memory footprint relatively small. You’d just simply load in the samples as and when you need them.

Hopefully the methods I’ve discussed over recent weeks will help you get the most out of Kontakt. If you missed my previous articles, here they are for quick reference:

Tips & Tricks: The Kontakt Quick-Load Feature

Tips & Tricks: Kontakt Optimization – The Batch Re-save Feature

 

 

Tips & Tricks: Kontakt Optimization – The Batch Re-save Feature

Native Instruments Kontakt is one of my most commonly used tools in the studio so it’s massively important to ensure it’s performing as efficiently as possible. I’ve previously touched on how to enhance workflow with the Quick-Load feature but there’s another little tip to optimize instrument load-up times regardless of whether you’re using a beast of computer or whether you’re running a rig with limited resources. This is something that can be particularly beneficial for composers who will more than likely be using large templates where hosting multiple orchestral libraries is the norm.

Anyone who has ever used Kontakt will undoubtedly have encountered the “Missing Samples” error. It’s easily enough resolved by selecting the location where the samples for library in question reside. It’s a case of then saving the patch so that the file paths are preserved.

The Batch Re-save function goes one step further and allows you to correct the file paths for an entire library but it can also drastically improve load-up times especially for larger, more ram-intensive libraries and almost certainly if your sample libraries are hosted on mechanical drives. This process will effectively re-assign the samples to each patch within the library accordingly based on your own system’s storage configuration.

To do this simply select the “File” menu and hit “Batch re-save”. You’ll be presented with a warning message. As long as you then select the original folder where the library is located (typically one level above the “Samples” folder) this is nothing to worry about. The reason for this warning being if any 2 instruments utilize the same naming structure for their samples, this process could potentially assign the wrong sample to the wrong instrument.

Then just sit back and watch as all the file paths are checked are re-assigned. Depending on the size of the library, this can sometimes take a while but it’s well worth it in the long run.

Batch re-saving is now the first thing I do whenever I install a new library. From personal experience I can honestly say this has greatly improved my instrument load-up times. Give it a try… See if it makes a difference!

Tips & Tricks: The Kontakt Quick-Load Feature

Having a wealth of Kontakt instruments available at your disposal is great but being able to access them quickly can sometimes be a little time consuming. Kontakt Player libraries streamline this process as they have their own separate tab which provides quick access directly to the instruments/multis folders via individual library tabs. But what about all those libraries that aren’t Kontakt Player compatible? You’ll know from experience that navigating through the standard file browser to find a specific patch can slow you down given that you sometimes need to trawl through several nested folders to get to the actual instruments folder, especially with some older libraries.

Well there is a feature in Kontakt which should make locating your instruments quickly a lot easier – The Quick-Load feature. The Quick-Load feature allows you to organize your instruments however you like as the Quick-Load catalog is essentially a virtual hierarchy directory structure meaning that no files are actually copied/moved.

I myself prefer to organize by vendor as can be seen in the example above. You may, however, decide you prefer to organize by instrument type. Essentially I never have to use the file browser, only my customized Quick-Load catalog, and my Libraries tab. The folder structure can be determined however you see fit. It’s just a case of dragging and dropping the instruments into the desired folders. It all depends on what works best for you. The same can also be done for multis and banks.

In order to access the Quick-Load catalog, you just need to right-click in any empty space inside the instrument rack and the catalog will appear.  You can then begin creating your folder structure. Once you’re happy with it you can lock down the hierarchy which prevents any changes being made to the file structure. Right-clicking again will close it.

Setting up my Quick-Load catalog has certainly helped speed up my workflow so why not give it a try yourself!