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Pure Guitars

Sample Library By Dave Stewart
Published August 2001

Pure Guitars

Rating: **** 4/5 Stars


I played guitar (badly, since you ask) in my youth, but found keyboards a much easier proposition. Apart from the more logical note layout, a huge advantage of keyboards is that you can use a spare hand for a bit of surreptitious arse‑scratching, a technique most guitarists can only dream of. However, there's nothing like the sound of a guitar for annoying the neighbours, and now, with the aid of the Pure Guitars CD‑ROM, even pathetic string‑fumblers like myself can produce a convincing guitar‑like noise from our samplers.

Pure Guitars consists entirely of acoustic guitars: no licks, riffs or flamenco histrionics, just single notes plus harmonics, chords (straight major, minor and dominant 7th) and effects such as string squeaks and body knocks. The CD‑ROM contains about 407Mb of unlooped samples, and for once the lack of loops is not a problem; the notes are allowed to die away without noticeable truncation, so the sound is entirely natural.

Eleven guitars were sampled, including two nylon‑stringed and several steel‑stringed ones, an Ovation piezo, a superb 12‑string, and an acoustic bass. The steel‑stringed guitars are played finger‑style, and also with a pick. Most instruments offer generous five‑way velocity switching, based on quiet, medium, loud, and 'exaggerated attack' notes. The fifth element is a tone slide up to the target note, which only kicks in at very high velocities.

The sound quality of Pure Guitars is clean and clear, the miking is beautifully done, and the samples have punch and presence. The library is all mono, but this in no way compromises the sound. Arpeggios and lead lines played on the 'Nylon Spanish' and 'Fingered Steel' sounded immaculate, and the occasional slide up adds the final touch of realism, even if you practically have to break a key to get the slide sample to sound. I found that quiet legato melodies were the hardest to emulate, but that is a restriction of samplers in general, rather than this library.

The chords (also performed at different dynamics) are presented with up‑strokes and down‑strokes in separate keyboard registers, which allows fabulously realistic two‑fingered strumming. The tuning is excellent, and the 12–string's chords, though harmonically restricted, sound glorious. I can't see anyone outside of the Julie Felix fan club using the Ovation's dominant 7th chords, but if you yearn for an added 2nd or sus 4th, just dial up the single notes and play your own. String squeaks and body knocks I can live without, but the harmonics which accompany many volumes are most welcome.

I liked these sounds a lot, and found them very playable and musically satisfying — hence this four‑star review. However, I have some criticisms. The samples in 'Nylon Vibrato' are identical to the ones in the 'Nylon Concert' volume, which wastes 32Mb of disc space. A far worse problem concerns 'dead air' on the front of samples: 'Nylon Spanish' contains many badly‑trimmed samples, and is not the only volume affected. Such negligent programming can be easily (though laboriously) rectified by the user, but should never have occurred in the first place. The CD‑ROM is still a good deal, though. Dave Stewart