Review: Inspiring Guitars by Zero-G

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Inspiring Guitars is a highly playable Kontakt instrument featuring guitar loops in a number of popular playing styles and genres.  I truly hadn’t expected to find this much inspiration – but for me – and much to my surprise, Inspiring Guitars lives up to every bit of its name!

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Review: Inspiring Guitars by Zero-G

Founded in 1990, Zero-G has gone on to produce sounds and samples used by some of the biggest names in the broadcast and music industries. Corporations, professional studios and bedroom producers alike have all come to trust Zero-G for outstanding products and sound quality. Companies like Roland, Yamaha, Akai, Microsoft, Apple, Mixman, and Sony are just a handful of the clients Zero-G has worked with and of course, my name is somewhere a bit farther down on that list too.
Their latest offering is Inspiring Guitars, a playable Kontakt instrument.

Inspiring Guitars by Zero-G sells for $66.99 from Time & Space

Thoughts

Call me old-fashioned but I hate it when people attempt to suggest something’s quality to me: “Here’s a funny joke…” “Watch this useful video.” “Here’s a funny cat video.” Often, (with the exception of cat videos) these simply don’t live up to the hype. I much prefer those who under-promise and over-deliver. So, when Zero G emailed me about their latest product titled, “Inspiring Guitars,” I thought I might as well prepare to be underwhelmed. But, Zero-G has an excellent reputation within the loop and sample community. If they’ve produced it, I figured I should at least consider it. So, I gave it a go.

I found that I truly was inspired by Inspiring Guitars. Within minutes of launching it, I had several sketches completed from which I can now build entire songs.

Downloading and installing the product was simple and straight-forward but what happened next surprised even me. I loaded the instrument in Kontakt and began to experiment with the loops just to get familiar with the interface. Barely a few minutes in, something strange occurred. I found that I truly was inspired by Inspiring Guitars. Within minutes of launching it, I had several sketches completed from which I can now build entire songs.

The interface is simple to use but deceptively powerful. If you’re not used to working in Kontakt, there’s no need to feel intimidated any longer. The user interface provides access to all kinds of control without getting in the way of the creative process.
In the Inspiring Guitars folder, you’ll find 8 NKI instruments; Brazil Guitars 80bpm, Classical Guitars Various bpm, Club Guitars 120bpm, Disco Guitars 120bpm, Funk Master Various bpm, Guitar Lab Various bpm, Phased EL Guitars 100bpm, Phased Rumba Guitars 100bpm. And while these offer a great variety, even more genre offerings can be found within these 8 NKIs, including Acoustic, Pop and Rock. Even a few nice bass lines can be found lurking amongst the chords and riffs.

Loops are sliced into 12 steps, and each slice is editable, allowing a plethora of variation and customizations. The loops are arranged on the keyboard so that chord progressions and pitch shifting are possible on the fly and only a slight learning curve is required to become proficient, quickly.

 

Let’s look at the control set. Looking at the Kontakt keyboard, you can see color coded keys that correspond to specific functions for each loop. Beginning with middle C, the blue keys play the loop from the beginning while other keys (in blue) trigger the loop from one of the sliced steps within that loop. The keys in green act like pitch shifters, shifting the pitch up from the lowest point, up to 11 semitones higher. The red keys are the different riffs or loops within the style, allowing you to quickly create progressions and variations. The yellow keys change the style and instrument of the riffs available so, provided you have at least a 49 or 61 key keyboard, you’ll be able to access all this on the fly from your midi keyboard.

At the top of the user interface, you’ll see tabs for access various controls for deep editing. For those demanding the most customization possible, you can randomize and reverse notes within each step of a loop as well as change articulation and other parameters within each loop step. And this is just the beginning of customizations you can make within the interface. There isn’t time for me to cover all the possible parameters of change available. So, I strongly encourage you to watch the walkthrough and tutorial Zero G has put together to see how deeply you can edit, arrange and rearrange within each loop.

At the bottom of the interface, you’ll find very useful information including loop name, root key signature, part and any customization references.

You will also find by familiarizing yourself with the interface, that no amount of screen real estate has been wasted. Zero G have done an excellent job of assembling all the tools you might want, in a package that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse. It’s efficient, economical and pleasing to the eye.

In the first video demo I’ve recorded, you’ll be able to follow the keys to see how the controls work to make it so easy for me to play and record a simple Brazilian chord progression without reading the manual or doing practice runs. No, it’s not a perfect piece of music but it does demonstrate just how easy Inspiring Guitars can be to use – even in the hands of a novice like me. I had this recorded with about 5 minutes of installation.

[See Review Examples Video: Demo 1]

Moving on to the FX Rack, you’ll find controls for modulation, compression, EQ, Drive, Reverb and Delay as well as amp heads and cabinets – giving you control and tonal possibilities well beyond the presets. To access the FX Rack, click the small tab located at the bottom of the user interface labeled FX Rack.

[See Review Examples Video: Demo 2]

I played around with the Club Guitars NKI for another 5 minutes or so before recording these guitar patterns [Please note: This collection does not include any drum loops, synths or the bass sounds used in any of these demos.]

As I began to feel more comfortable with this unique guitar collection, I stumbled upon a guitar loop that reminded me of those spacey, 50’s and early 60’s experimental lounge music licks and I was off on yet another sonic adventure. Mind you, I was only exploring the package to see what was inside. I truly hadn’t expected to find this much inspiration – but for me – and much to my surprise, Inspiring Guitars was living up to every bit of its name. Please bear in mind that the organ, bass and drums are not part of this set, they were only added after becoming …eh…inspired.

[See Review Examples Video: Demo 3]

In all fairness, I did get a glitchy behavior after opening a saved project where some of the loop parameters had changed. I also noticed artifacts with some loops when I pitched them up. Overall, however, I was impressed that Zero-G delivered on its promise. Inspiring Guitars really did inspire me. After an hour of playing with the program I had 4 completely different song sketches together in four very different styles: Brazilian, Club, Spacey Jazzy Experimental and Funk!

[See Review Examples Video: Demo 4]

In one single evening, I felt more productive than I had been in days simply by exploring Inspiring Guitars. Of course, your mileage may vary, and I recommend you fully investigate the product demos and walkthroughs found on Zero-G’s “Time and Space” website. With a retail price tag of just $66.99, I felt like this was a no-brainer.

 

Facts

Inspiring Guitars contains 8 NKI files consisting of 3,000 loops taking up about 3.5 GB of hard disk space, when uncompressed. It is a Kontakt instrument and requires the FULL version of Kontakt 5.0 or higher. It is downloadable as two compressed RAR files at 1.07 GB each and compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. For more details, visit Zero G’s “Time and Space” website.

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Inspiring Guitars by Zero-G sells for $66.99 from Time & Space

 

Demos of Inspiring Guitars by Zero-G

Videos of Inspiring Guitars by Zero-G