Strum, from Applied Acoustics Systems

Strum, from Applied Acoustics Systems

Strum is very cool for and for a bunch of reasons. Strum is perfect for a bunch of musicians. First, lets say you are a producer. You are tracking up that brand new masterpiece, the one that came to you in your sleep. You need to lay down guitar parts before they are gone forever. But you don’t play the guitar. What will you do?

OK, now lets say you are the keyboard player in the band. The song that you really want to play has acoustic guitar parts in it, but the guitar player is busy playing other parts. What the heck will you do?

Lastly, you are a home recording nut that simply cant play the part at hand. You have a great idea for a part, but you know that you could never pull it off. What will you do?

The simple answer for all of these situations, and so many more, are to open up Strum and get to work. Strum is a realistic MIDI guitar simulator. Really, Applied Acoustics Systems took the (until not too long ago) troublesome, and too tough to replicate, guitar sound very realistic as a MIDI instrument. Strum is amazing for both recording and for live situations.

The problem with trying to pull off a “believable MIDI guitar” is that the guitar has so many unique and special types of sounds associated with it. As well as picked notes and finger style playing notes, there are strummed chords that can either be strummed up the strings or down the strings. There are palm mutes and slides that travel up and down the neck. There are vibratos and bends galore. Lets toss in bar chords and open chords too. The simple truth is that there are so many little nuances that they all come together to make the guitar one of the hardest instruments to replicate in the MIDI keyboard world.

Well, until Strum from Applied Acoustics Systems came along.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H4VpQttctg]

 Applied Acoustics Systems went all out with Strum and they supply the user with a lot of options to play with. To only scratch the surface here, the user can alter guitar body styles, string types, tones, and so forth. What I mean is that there is a whole section devoted to dialing in the minute ways in which you wish to pluck the strings with a pick or a finger, the tone, decay, and volume of the strings, altering the “hammer-ons”, mutes, and body size of the guitar. Then there is a whole section for adding Effects like compression, EQ, distortion, delay, and reverb.

Strum works via a three part setting option that they call “Play modes”. Play modes are easily selected from the main part of the GUI. You can play in three modes, which are Keyboard mode, Guitar mode, and Loop mode. The Keyboard mode is perfect for those wanting to write MIDI parts, as they track up a song. Think notes and chords here. Guitar mode is perfect for those of us playing MIDI keyboards in a live setting, allowing for up stroke and down stroke chords (in keys) and strumming options, arpeggios, and palm mutes too. Loop mode, as you might suspect, is perfect for creating realistic rhythm guitar lines. Or, in other words, you pick the chord with one key, and Strum helps out with patterns and strum types.

To get better feeling of the three “Play modes”, how they work, and what is possible, check out this informative video from Applied Acoustics Systems….

video

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klGmlqVQ-vc]

If you are trying to replicate an already recorded guitar sound, or if you are trying to replicate that guitar sound that you can hear in your head, you can do it with Strum. I have just begun to play with the amazing selection of tone altering features and effects. They all change the sound of the guitar in ways that you might expect, and the effects sound very good. I am very impressed with the thought and the attention to detail that went into making Strum so powerful, flexible, and so darn realistic sounding.

Applied Acoustics Systems aren’t new to the whole “amazing sounding and playing MIDI instrument world”. These are the good folks behind “Lounge Lizard EP-4” electric pianos, “Tassman 4” Sound synthesis studio, and “String Studio VS-2” String modeling synthesizer, just to name a few. These have been hailed as some of the best sounding MIDI instruments and some of the easiest to use MIDI instruments to ever come along. I have wanted “Lounge Lizard EP-4” ever since it was released.

 Let me get back to Strum. I would never call myself a keyboard player. I play on the keys, sure, but I am far from a keyboardist. That said, I had no trouble learning how to make Strum do the crazy things it can do. In no time at all I could make Strum palm mute power chords (eat your heart out Bryan Adams), pluck out open chords (like my favorite Guns and Roses ballads), and everything in between. I couldn’t help but to think about how realistic Strum can be with such little practice. Most MIDI guitar sims fall way short of this realistic sound for guitar, and most seem to sound more like electric pianos then guitars. Strum sounds like a guitar, and the editing features put Strum way over the top. I just cant find the words to tell you how much it sounds like a guitar, especially when compared to all of the other guitar-like simulation sounds that have polluted the audio world for so long.

It just does not matter weather you are writing music in your home studio, writing guitar parts for yourself or a client, or pulling off a believable guitar part for the band, Strum is a hit! Strum is easy to learn and Strum is as realistic sounding as “MIDI guitars” have ever come. If you are serious about getting a very powerful, very easy to learn MIDI guitar then you need to check out Strum from Applied Acoustics Systems. I love it!