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Guitarists who dive into recording are often overwhelmed; things get much more nuanced in every way, and finding the right combination and application of effects, EQ and dynamics can be difficult. SSL has taken a lot of the guesswork out of navigating multiple plug-ins with their new Guitarstrip plug-in.
The new plug-in features four separate sections (EQ, Drive, Compression and Phase Correction), that can be applied to a guitar (or bass) track and can individually be turned on or off as needed. The three band EQ can be placed pre or post, and is quite adaptable. For compression, there are five presets, response-wise, from very slow to super-fast attack. Guitarists will immediately be drawn to the drive section, which is very sensitive; the subtleties of warm and smooth can easily go to distorted, and depending on the track, possibly musical or unmusically desired results could occur, so be warned when tweaking.
Phase correction is also offered and when applied to a situation where a track might not be in phase, such as a different guitar track or a DI signal, it has plenty of options to rectify the situation and get both signals in sync. We purposely put a signal out of phase and the “0” phase invert function automatically sorted things out, but for added adjustment there’s a delay function that’s a more refined approach. Combine all these effects and it’s a streamlined approach for a pretty comprehensive tone shaping tool.▼ Article continues below ▼
The big thing is to not drop this on a track, and try to hunt around through each effect — that’s rabbit hole territory. There are factory presets that are more tuned for specific applications, and just selecting one that’s close to what’s desired, using that as a starting point, THEN tweaking here and there as needed is what we found to be the best workflow. Knowing when to search outside the norm can help; we applied a bass guitar preset to a clean baritone guitar track, and it added in the low end with clarity, while the top end had a smooth twang.
An acoustic guitar preset was also the better starting point for a clean arpeggio-ed electric guitar track. The drive control has a lot of grit to offer, in some cases almost too much. With tracks that are already distorted in any way, this effect may be overkill so be judicious. With IRs and modeler systems that are based on drive tones (as well as regular mic-ed up amps) already in the track, it doesn’t seem to tone stack well. On the flip side, when in bass mode, it really can fatten up a track with some rich overtones and was perfect for adding life to some tracks that were clean-ish, but lacking warmth and presence.
Overall, it’s a one-stop-shop for sculpting and shaping guitar and bass tracks in the box, and we really enjoyed what it added to otherwise flat tracks. This is one plug-in guitarists want to pay attention to, more so than the newest drive pedal of the month, as it’s a perfect way to put a smooth polish on tracks without breaking the bank (or requiring more room on your already-crowded pedalboard).
Plenty of tonal options, easy to navigate, great presets
Drive control might be a bit much, especially with already distorted tracks