Review: Celestial Guitars by Waverunner Audio


Celestial Guitars is a contemporary take on using the trusted six-string for cinematic effect. The newest release from Waverunner Audio features deeply sampled clean and distorted guitar tones simply dripping in reverb. It covers a wealth of ground, from heavenly tinkles to the dark event horizon. For cavernous cosmic bloom look no further!

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Review: Celestial Guitars by Waverunner Audio

Celestial Guitars is the first in a new line of libraries as part of the Celestial Frontier series from boutique developer, Waverunner Audio. They have been creating a range libraries over the past couple of years with a focus on unusual and characterful sampling of real instruments. They first caught my attention with their Seven Days project, where they released a library a day and planted a tree for each one sold. Being a real tree hugger myself this immediately got me purchasing and experiencing the unique organic sounds that they were creating. However, up to now Waverunner Audio products have all been relatively small (and cheaper) collections. With Celestial Guitar they have a bigger vision and for that they look towards the cosmos for inspiration.

Celestial Guitars sells for £149.00 from Waverunner Audio


It consists of two main types of sound – a core collection of playable instruments and a more sound designed selection. The former has fifteen patches that are fairly self explanatory and shown below.


Core Articulations


All of these appear in the same minimal GUI. The mixer is the first place to look and it contains four different options. There are close mics on two different setups (a Marshall head and a Bad Cat head both run into two different Marshal cabs), a clean DI and an ambient mic capturing the room sound. Each has panning and assignable individual outputs. Next to the mixer is a very simple attack and release envelope control. It is worth noting all the patches are very RAM friendly and mic options are easily purged.


Clean Bowed

On the clean patches The CI (Marshall amp) is smooth and round and the CII (Bad Cat amp) a bit more bitey. For the distorted patches this sound character is generally reversed. That said the tones are generally quite similar, enabling you to pan them and get a lovely wide sound stage without radically different tones left to right. The DI is pristine and adds clarity, whereas the ambient mic adds a decent sized, balanced room from the Old Library studio in England. The entire library is very wet and it’s worth noting that the reverb used (the large reverb setting in a Line 6 Pod Live) runs into the amps and DI first. This gives an entirely different sound to recording dry amped guitar and adding reverb afterwards. The downside is you are not going to get anything close and dry from Celestial Guitars, although the release control does work ok to tame the reverb tail.

The top part of the front panel is dedicated to effects for further sound manipulation. Aurora is reverb, Shimmer is chorus, V838 is delay and Flare is green screamer distortion. Each one is activated by simply clicking the name which lights up in orange. Parameters are minimal but enough to be able to dial in even bigger and more spacey atmospheres.



Depending on the articulation there are four or five round robins, which feels like a good amount to get the realism required. Where it makes sense, like on Clean Singles, there are also two velocity layers. All of the core patches are pure inspiration starters – I especially liked the 8ve Plucks which gently chime wonderfully without ever sounding brittle and the Clean Tremolo (fingered), which you can ride with the modwheel to create vast swells. The arpeggiated chords have a great feature whereby velocity triggers a faster or slower speed (higher velocity = faster), though I was slightly disappointed that they were not BPM syncable. The various bowed material is also worth a special mention with the Chords (bowed) featuring round robins and the Clean Bowed having a quite raw and very long, naturally evolving timbre. There is also some more experimental technique at play here – the Dist Tapped Chords was created by knocking the guitar body and is perfect for sinister, swelling textures.

Moving into the Alpha Centauri folders reveals three further collections titled Atonal, Pads and Singles. For all of them the mixer is reduced down to a single control. These are all far more processed sounds that veer towards the synthetic and atmospheric side of things. Atonal has some patches that really do conjure up the bleakness of deep space. The Pads continue the dark space odyssey theme, whilst the Singles evoke something sweeter and more heavenly. The seven Homeomorphism patches could become favourites for that keyboard sound that is not quite a synth and not quite a piano.


Homeomorphism III

The GUI leaves little ability to heavily manipulate these patches, so you are more or less stuck with the original sound. As such, the Alpha Centauri section is a little limited with only a small amount of presets per category, though I view it more as a bonus add-on to the main articulations.

Any criticism of Celestial Guitars is mostly concerned with the interface. A full ADSR would have been useful to try craft more short, percussive sounds. There is also a big chunk of wasted space in the middle of the GUI, which might have been put to better use by increasing the size of the mixer section and text, or even including an arpeggiator. Parameters lack any numerical read out, which I find very handy when you want to accurately match volume levels and pan positions. The interface also lacks any EQ, filtering, compression – this is less of a bother personally as I nearly always opt for my own plugins over Kontakt, but for people with other workflows it might be more of an issue. In terms of the sound my only real issue is only using one reverb. With the plethora of reverb pedals available it seems limiting to only use one algorithm from one unit. On the other hand it does give a very cohesive sound to the collection, which may well have been the intention. Finally, it might be just a tad on the pricey side, which could encourage customers to wait it out for the sales.

Creating any kind of ambient and ethereal library is always fraught with the danger of becoming a bit cheesy and sounding like the kind of music played in spas. Celestial Guitar avoids this and maintains a very classy and contemporary cinematic sound. It retains a rawness by using reverb feeding tube amps in a real space, with Neves and Pultecs employed in the signal chain too (curiously no mention is made of the actual guitar/s involved!). This is certainly not an all round guitar library and is instead very much a deeply sampled specialist product that focuses on the particular niche of ambient, spacey guitars. We are talking lots of reverb on every patch here, which does sound fantastic, but obviously is not useable for every kind of cue. Celestial Guitars has elements of a real instrument and something more otherworldly, which makes it effective to combine with both orchestral and synth driven compositions. It is characterful enough to be very effective as a feature sound, yet can also work excellently layered into complex arrangements. Above all I found this library inspirational to use and more flexible than you might imagine. With that in mind I am excited to see what comes next in the Celestial Frontiers series.


Celestial Guitars is 7.7GB installed and requires the full version of Kontakt 5.8.1 and above. There are 15 core articulations with 4 microphone positions and 24 sound design patches with a single position.

Celestial Guitars sells for £149.00 from Waverunner Audio


Demos of Celestial Guitars by Waverunner Audio


Videos of Celestial Guitars by Waverunner Audio


Contributor Sam Burt reviews Celestial Guitars by Waverunner Audio
“Celestial Guitars is a contemporary take on using the trusted six-string for cinematic effect. The newest release from Waverunner Audio features deeply sampled clean and distorted guitar tones simply dripping in reverb. It covers a wealth of ground, from heavenly tinkles to the dark event horizon. For cavernous cosmic bloom look no further!”