How To Get Great String Sounds

Featuring Loops In Worship Posted on October 1, 2010

Finding a good string patch is one of the hardest sounds to find. A bad string sound can quickly ruin an otherwise great sounding track. We’ve all heard great sounding demos that get quickly cheapened by their very low quality string patches. My friend Justin Jeremias wrote a really great article on his attempts to create a great string sound in Reason. (While you’re there check out some of his loops he offers for free on his site!) Check it out after a few of my thoughts on getting a good string sound.
Here are a few of my pointers:

    * If you want it to sound legit track each part individually. Imagine each instrument is playing the parts separately then work on mixing it all together. Don’t just chug out full chords. Of course this is quite difficult in a live setting. In those cases you may want to look at splitting your keyboard or keys patch into zones or sections then only having certain sounds occupying certain octaves.

    * Reverb is the salt of the audio world. Everything sounds better with some verb. Well, almost everything… after all you can’t polish a turd!  But adding a bit of verb will help “fill” out your string sound and breathe more life into it.

    * Add a filtered washy pad. If you’re using a strings patch live then it may be worth adding a simple washy pad underneath to fill out the sound. Again you could do some zone/octave mapping to make sure everything is in the right place.

    * Understand the difference between synthesis and sampling. Strings created synthetically will have a much different sound than strings recorded and sampled at multiple velocities from a real violin. Neither one is better than the other but depending on your situation one may work better than the other. Don’t expect a synthy string patch created using FM synthesis to sound realistic. Use it for a synth string sound. If you want a real authentic sounding string sound then choose high quality string samples.

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