The stratocaster is world renowned as one of the all time greats. It's a very versatile guitar and has been used in music genres such as rock, country, pop and jazz to name just a few. If you don't own this guitar which 99.9% of us don't, can a sampler VST emulate you playing a real guitar. Well East West have certainly attempted to give you the ability to get as close as is physically possible in the box. Whilst this is not my favourite guitar East West have to offer it's certainly a sound bank I will use if I need a strat in the session. See the video below to hear all the sounds that are available within Strat 56 by East West.
The Strat 56 library contains a lot of great patches some of which can be found in another product called Goliath. In all honesty if you have Goliath you have the East West strat 56. Goliath contains all the best most used patches minus the key switch patches within it. You get a ton of extra patches with Goliath too which are all pretty awesome. Goaliath can be purchased via the link below.
The library includes a lot of different variations as well as key switches and using the variations available you can get incredibly close to sounding like a real guitarists whilst playing keys. The key switch patches are great for keeping in one instrument and key switching from sound to sound obtaining a lot of instant variation. There are a good few noise patches which can be used to create a more natural and human sound.
Once you find your groove in midi, you can explore the possibilities the East West Play software has to offer. This takes a single sound and turns it into thousands of possibilities. Play has a multitude of functions, many of which only become apparent when you open the FX window in the mixer section. On the face of the Play instrument for Strat 56 you will find an envelope used for shaping your sounds, a filter both high pass and low pass used for removing unwanted frequencies such as rumble and harsh highs, stereo spread which actually works incredible well with this strat 56 sampler, an EP-1 delay, amp and reverb. I would personally recommend avoiding the reverb and amp that is built into the front panel and switching to the reverb and amp simulator in the FX section. Reason being is they are exactly the same in the way they sound but you gain more control over the parameters in the FX section.
Using such processing as the built in amp simulator you can emulate the strat running through various different amps. personally I'm not too keen on how the strat sounds through these amps but they have their uses and are there to use if you so wish. Another option is to run the strat through the built in Omnicide distortion plugin. Which takes sound design to a very dirty and yet subtle realm. It can be used to great effect on the strat. Personally it's not something I would use on a strat but used subtle you can achieve a very pleasing sound.
The built in SSL channel strip and bus compressor as always work incredibly well with the start and all instruments and sounds for that matter. The built in SSL channel strip can be used in all manner of ways. Tame your dynamics using the channel strips compressor, EQ the strat and remove or increase certain frequencies, even use the built in transient designer to obtain more snap at the beginning of each sample. I use an SSL console at the Audio Animals studio day in day out and have a lot of knowledge on how these channel strips work and sound. Whilst this emulation of the hardware isn't in my eyes the best emulation on the market it's certainly a very good emulation to have and use within Play to process your sound.
Play has a built in convolution reverb which quite honestly is brilliant. Often the rooms are large and spacious but if you select a smaller room for use with the strat you will find you'll obtain a really live natural sound. Rooms such as the studios or live rooms are my favourites for this sort of guitar.
- It's a great sounding stratocaster in the box
- Lots of variation to create realistic guitar loops
- Play features take the samples to the next level
- Noise samples allow you to insert a real guitarists imperfections
- Large library of sounds
- Both bridge and neck samples
- When compared to Goliath it seems quite expensive at $99. When you consider for an extra $300 you can get 90% of the strat sounds plus 38GB of additional sounds.
The conclusion is..... The Strat 56 sounds just like a stratocaster should and when used with it's wide range of variations you will achieve a realistic guitar rhythm in the box. It's not the best sounding guitar East West offer but if it's a strat you are after this is one of the best if not the best. At $99 it's a bit steep but saying that the samples are great and there is 2.2GB of files. If I loved what I heard in the video above and was thinking of buying this to get that classic strat sound, I would say buy Goliath instead. As you get all the best sounds of this pack along with another 38GB of a wide range of sounds such as every guitar you would ever want to use, pianos, synths, strings, brass and choir. Every sound you would need to make beautiful music. Saying that if all you want is a great sounding strat then save yourself $300 and buy just the Strat 56. If you are using play 5 which is free to download you will be able to use all the above Play features and take your strat to realms you didn't think were possible.
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