Review of Bluegrass Banjo V3 by Bolder Sounds


This library was featured in the 5 UNDER Ethnic Tools: Ethnic and World Sample Libraries

With Bluegrass Banjo, now in it’s 3rd incarnation, Bolder Sounds has crafted an engine with a complete set of articulations, taking into account pick position and so much more to allow you to craft a truly believable Banjo performance – All at a great price.

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Review Bluegrass Banjo V3 by Bolder Sounds

Bluegrass Banjo V3 sells for $59.95 from Bolder Sounds


With Bluegrass Banjo, now in it’s third incarnation, Bolder Sounds has crafted a kontakt engine with a complete set of articulations. The instruments engine allows you to program the pick position for creating very believable timbre shifts from note to note as well as an option for you to automate the pick position.  Bluegrass Banjo V3 enables you to craft truly believable midi performance with the instrument.

There aren’t any frills with the way the controls are laid out in blocks of “kontakt-grey” menus and pull downs. But the infaces’ systematic approach is clear and fairly easy to navigate giving you intuitive controls to adjust the many parameters of the instrument.

Bluegrass Banjo V3 by Bolder Sounds Instrument Panel

Bluegrass Banjo V3 by Bolder Sounds Instrument Panel

As it stands the PROs for me are the inclusion of a specialized Banjo head IR and just under 400 midi files.

For the Banjo head IR Bolder Sounds has included a “Resonance” knob (located on the settings panel) that gives you the ability to incrementally add resonance to the instrument. A little of this impulse response can go a long way to adding even more realism to the playback.


Settings Panel with “Resonance” Banjo IR Control


Like most plucked ethnic instruments the ability to create convincing midi playback comes down to the knowledge of how the instrument sounds in the hands of a skilled player. As for the included MIDI, the team at Bolder Sounds certainly know what real Banjo playing is supposed to sound like and have included about 400 midi files with rolls (patterns) and chords in all keys.

The instrument has a special “MIDI preset” setting that can be loaded up to allow for keeping the keyswitches out of the way and allow the bundled midi patterns to playback properly. With these patterns you can import the midi file, adjust and sculpt to build you own performances. I found that just referencing the files helped me to get an idea of a more realistic banjo playing style.

This leads me to the only CON I could find in the instrument. I would have loved to have seen the ability to audition/drag the MIDI from the instrument. Or the ability to playback the rolls (banjo picking pattern) and chords either with an included sequencer, intelligent chord recognition or some other engine feature. By spending the time to import, edit and adjust the midi in my DAW I was able to get some great convincing performances but would have liked to have seen it somehow incorporate a pattern player engine for faster performance creation.

Over all you the sound from this “pre-war” banjo is punchy and clear and loaded with bend controls, vibrato and every articulation you need to craft a life like banjo performance. A pretty great buy at for less than $60 US.


Bluegrass Banjo V3 contains up to 5 x independent round-robin per key. All of the strings playback with 5 different pluck positions that can either be selected via Key Switches or via a very the “advanced Pluck Position velocity selection” system.

The Bluegrass Banjo V3 also includes 379 Midi files to help you build realistic banjo arpeggios and chords and includes a resonance Impulse Response made from the banjo head.

The Banjo includes Hammer-On and Pull-Off, Half step and Whole step Slide, Harmonic and Scruggs articulations as well as a scripted Pitch Bend and Vibrato control.

The instrument has controls for fret position and includes an “Auto Fret Selection” feature. Bluegrass Banjo V3 has a Key Switch panel(freely assign Key Switches) and an Effects panel (8 different effects).

The library downloads as a little over 3GB and does require the full version of Native Instrument’s Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.

Bluegrass Banjo V3 sells for $59.95 from Bolder Sounds

Official Demos of Bluegrass Banjo V3

Official Videos of Bluegrass Banjo V3