Review: Realibanjo by Realitone

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Realibanjo is finger-pickin’ good! Quirky, clever, and a whole lot of fun, Realitone has taken a lot of care to make this useful and unique banjo library. Plus, it is a joy to play.

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At the time of posting Realibanjo was on an August Summer Sales

price of $49 (reg $59)  Realitone


Review: Realibanjo by Realitone

Realibanjo is available for $59 from Realitone

Thoughts

The interface of this library effectively puts all the controls in one window, and most of them are on the keyboard itself. The lowest set of keys, colored gold, is keyswitches for fret position. This changes the color of the sound somewhat as the notes are played higher up on the neck. There is more of a “twang” in the open position, and this is the recommended setting for the most authentic performance. Next is the set of red keys, which controls the pattern style (discussed further below).

There are two more keyswitches to the right of the fret positions: one of these controls the muted playing style and the other controls legato. Next, comes the range of the instrument, indicated by blue keys, which extends almost 3 octaves from C to B (this is actually a little bit further than a banjo is normally tuned, as typically the lowest string would be a D). The instrument here is layered for loud and soft playing. The next group of keys are the pitch controls for the pattern player (discussed further below).

I would say it is quite rare that I open a library and giggle, but this library is likely to make you giddy.

The banjo loads up with several helpful features already engaged. As a non-banjo player who has been recently instructed in some of the stylistic elements of banjo playing, there are some features of this library that will help you achieve a more authentic sound and some that will give you more control, but arguably less realism. Banjo players characteristically slide between seconds (both major and minor) and Realibanjo has a built in Auto Legato which will detect these intervals and incorporate a slide. If you don’t want this sound, you can turn the Auto Legato off and you’ll instead have each note picked separately. There is also a keyswitch that allows you to force legato on any two pitches (producing a less authentic sound, but interesting nonetheless). Another keyswitch lets you mute the notes.

The Pattern Player is an extremely helpful built-in tool that will quickly get your banjo playing sounding “purdy as can be”. The pitch controls for the Pattern Player are the top two octaves of the keyboard. There are six patterns to choose from. Patterns are synced to the tempo in your DAW, and the Pattern Player automatically recognizes the Major, minor, Dominant, minor 7 and Sus4 chords you play, including inversions.

The pattern styles include several standard country and bluegrass patterns.

You select the pattern style that you want, using either the buttons in the window or the red keyswitches on the keyboard, and then hold down the keys in the top two octaves for the chord you want, and the Pattern Player (much like an arpeggiator) outlines that chord for you. The pattern styles include several standard country and bluegrass patterns, one at higher pitch level, and two for more of a rock setting (Mumford and Sons anyone?).

There is a bonus library of “Yee Haw” and other things you would hear folks hollerin’ at a hootenanny. This special encore library comes conveniently pre-packaged for those of us who are too self-conscious to hoot and holler in our home studios.

One thing that I found a bit tricky was a peculiarity within the pattern player. The pattern actually begins sounding the beat AFTER you press the keys for your chord, which I find is a little disorienting to line up with other parts. I imagine the pattern player would be extremely useful to play changes in real time while listening to your other parts, but having to anticipate by a beat feels a bit uncomfortable. The other thing that I found a little peculiar is that it requires you to have complete chords. It does understand some 7th chords, but not other extensions, and if you leave the 5th out it will not detect the chord.

Overall I found this library to be a lot of fun and easy to navigate. The Pattern Player is particularly useful if you are unfamiliar with idiomatic playing for the banjo but you want to have that authentic sound. You and Realibanjo will be like peas and carrots.

 

Facts

The library requires the Full version of Kontakt (4.2+).and downloads at 191 MB

Realibanjo is available for $59 from Realitone

Demos of Realibanjo

Videos of Realibanjo