Review: Ample Guitar Hollow II Fingerstyle from Amplesound

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This is a classic guitar with a pensive, buttery tone suitable for Jazz, Fusion, Blues or Soul. The fingerstyle approach gives you that vibrant tone replete with the finger noises to ratchet up the realism.

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Review: Ample Guitar Hollow II Fingerstyle from Amplesound

 

Ample Guitar Hollow II Fingerstyle sells for $119 from Amplesound

 

 

Thoughts

When I was in my early teens, I lugged my Les Paul into my guitar teacher’s house, got plugged in and said “Let’s work on some Zeppelin”. He stopped me politely and offered to play me a bit of the new debut album (Room 335) from Larry Carlton. Needless to say my mind was blown and I was off buying Jazz albums on the way home.

I suddenly had a whole new appreciation for a different approach to guitar playing. The ES-335 is the same guitar you heard Alvin Lee deafen the Woodstock crowd with during “Going Home” or Chuck Berry duck-walk with during a dozen different hits. Even B.B. King played it exclusively before Gibson created his beloved “Lucille”, the ES-345.

The ES-335 Dot sampled here is a 2001 Gibson Nashville plant production guitar with Gibson PAF Humbucker pickups
If you own any of the other Amplesound guitars/basses (and this one marks the 14th installment), the interface will be completely familiar to you as it uses all of the same controls and page layouts. While I review a fair amount of Kontakt libraries, the Amplesound family of guitars is all plugin based.

Plugin or Library, to me it’s all about the best tool for the job and this one is a chance to own a classic guitar at a pretty amazing price!


The first thing that I noticed when I opened up Ample Hollow II is that it is Fingerstyle only (That will change in time with a “picked” expansion coming down the line). The other thing you will note is that the pickup selector is stuck in Neck mode. Given that the approach for sampling this time out was to go for a warm fingerstyle Jazz/Blues esthetic, just the neck pickup was used; I’m sure to capture the warmth of tone, the fat bottom end and the finger noises that are so important in truly reproducing a believable fingerstyle jazz guitar sound. I found that playing with even extremely soft velocity you get these soft delicate passages that just flow like warm butter. Is it apparent yet that I am a big fan of this guitar?

The first thing that I noticed when I opened up Ample Hollow II is that it is Fingerstyle only

Rather than go through every page feature by feature (there’s a great handy manual for that), I will outline some of the really standout features.

Hovering over each control provides a handy tool tip with helpful information on control usage. You have an extreme level of control with sample and articulation editing along with a choice of playing modes – the standard mode or keyboard mode (multiple notes per string) or solo mode (single note only). I also like the cool guitar doubling feature which uses different samples on the left and right sides as well as the “intelligent” Capo logic, which will follow your incoming notes. The use of a Rhombic sampling model for each note/velocity layer allows you to customize the guitar to your specific splaying style and get the most unbelievable sounds from a virtual instrument. Some of this realism is aided by the ability to choose Pops or Artificial Harmonics when playing at 127 and to adjust the body resonance tone.

 

The Strummer tab gives you a wealth of choices for Chord selection – up to 14 chords and 28 different ways to play them. You can do the math on that one. You can use the engine to play the chords or chose the articulations you want and play the chords yourself. Articulations are plentiful in the Amplesound engine and you can double them up by using two key-switches together.

In addition, there is a slide guitar mode with 10 articulations of its own. All of this along with Poly legato makes for some pretty amazing realism in your playing. Again, if you have any of the other Amplesound guitars, this will be familiar territory. You can choose from a huge selection of strum patterns sorted by genre, time signature and BPM or you can create your own. Picking the folder icon under the chord section will pop up the available options for the chord bank. All in all, this has been very well thought out and is very handy. With each update Amplesound continues to add functionality and update the capabilities of Strummer (and other features).

 

MIDI drag to DAW! This is one feature I really like!

Tab to MIDI was introduced in the last round of major updates and is a really welcome addition to the stable. You can now take Tab directly from Hollow II and drag it into your DAW or export it to an audio file. The currently supported file formats are GPX, GP3, GP4 and GP5 formats. Again, refer to the documentation for updates as they become available since Amplesound regularly updates the instrument line and introduces new features. There is some very detailed information available from Amplesound on all the technical details but suffice it to say – this is one feature I really like!

 

The last tab is FX. Amplesound provide a decent set of FX here, including the standard pedals you would expect plus a Wah Wah pedal. I prefer to use premium plugins in order to mix in the room, but the FX do in fact give you the ability to sketch your sound quite nicely when composing on the fly. I love the tone of this guitar clean with a hint of reverb so you will want to experiment for yourself.

Ample Hollow II captures the essence and warmth of the 335 sound and offers up a truly believable experience as a virtual instrument.

When it comes to my electric guitars, I am a staunch Fender guy – unless we are talking electric hollow body guitars -then it is Gibson all the way! I know that this first incarnation is a fingerstyle approach to the guitar, but I will be eagerly awaiting an expansion with the bridge pickup and picking capability to fulfill some of the other possible playing styles and tones. The ES-335 Dot is one of my favorite guitars and sadly with a fairly narrow tapered neck, one that I have a bit harder time playing. That’s why I was so thrilled to see this incarnation of the Ample Hollow II. It captures the essence and warmth of the 335 sound and offers up a truly believable experience as a virtual instrument at a really competitive price point. This is one I have to heartily recommend if you are looking for a classic electric hollow body sound or looking to add something unique to your recordings.
As with all of my reviews, I would advise you to check out the official demos to make sure that this is the right tool for you.

Facts

Amplesound Hollow II is a VST/AAX/AU/RTAS virtual instrument plugin. It requires 3.27 GB of disk space. Amplesound provides an extremely comprehensive technical fact sheet on their website.

Ample Guitar Hollow II Fingerstyle sells for $119 from Amplesound

Demos of Ample Guitar Hollow II Fingerstyle

Videos of Ample Guitar Hollow II Fingerstyle