The CAGED Guitar

A sampled guitar that blends the best of instrument and performance...

The story

When sampling, we generally sample the instrument or the performance of the instrument. The former gives the composer flexibility but leaves realism quite vulnerable. Sampling a performance, on the other hand, increases realism, at the cost of flexibility. We’re trying a middle approach with this library: The CAGED Guitar.

This middle ground approach could be called contextual sampling, essentialist sampling, or more wordily, reconstructive performance sampling. It involves making a recording of a performance style, deconstructing it analytically, cataloguing the essential elements of the performance that gives it realism, and then sampling only those necessary components. Then you put it back together into a sample instrument.

With CAGED Guitar, we didn’t sample the entire guitar and all it’s articulations. We deconstructed a recorded performance of it, and then reconstructed into a very playable instrument. It’s called the CAGED Guitar based on the 5 most common open chords of the guitar. We are submitting just the open E tuning, as this is part of a larger library we are working on and hope to market some day soon. My business partner, Micah and I started a music production and sampling company this year directly as a result of the inspiration we’ve found at Pianobook and Spitfire Audio. This is our fourth submission, after the Street Organ, Micah’s Choir, and Simple Pop Guitar. We are also in the process of developing several other instruments using the reconstructive performance sampling process and the results are promising!

Here’s how to use it:

There are three octaves on this instrument.
(1) The lower octave contains the root notes of the chord.
(2) The middle octave contained downstrokes of the high string.
(3) The upper octave contains upstrokes of the high string strings.

The best way to play it is with the left hand playing octaves of the downbeat, and the right hand playing the “weak” upstrokes in the third octave. Layer in the first octave downbeat only when necessary to change the chord. Check out this video to see it in action and get a better idea of how it works.

Although we’ve only provided one of the 5 keys we are sampling, you can squeeze out a few more keys using the tuning knob. In fact, Christian Henson will probably encourage you to do that. Obviously, the further away from the root pitch you go, the weirder it will sound. But it does sound somewhat glorious to pitch it down 3 semitones, crank up the reverb and strike the lower octave.

We’ve included a “monolith” version, in case you don’t want to fiddle with file paths.

Reviews for The CAGED Guitar

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • Great Sound but wierdly to play.

    I love this sound. But I can't play it properly. I just thought it was not that great sampled or programmed. But in the video I heard the real sound. Maybe make it a bit easier to play for guitar noobs like me.

    Stephan Scholz14 October 2021
  • Solid guitar instrument with excellent playability!

    Even though this sampled instrument is somewhat limited in which key it was sampled in -- I was actually quite surprised at its playability and just how easily I could play and get a result that sounded like someone was actually performing the guitar in a believable way. I wish I'd learned guitar when I was younger, because I'd love to be able to play the actual instrument. However, I am a percussionist and pianist, and really appreciate this instrument in my collection. This is one of the good ones, and I'm looking forwrad to seeing what the larger library of other sampled keys sounds like when it comes out in the future. Nicely done.

    There are some issues with repeated notes, but if you're playing slower strumming songs, it sounds great.

    Andrew Ernst06 January 2022
  • Great effort on this one

    Clearly a-lot of effort went into making this playable and realistic and your breakdown video was very well done as well. The strumming and muted chords are pretty realistic and theres a good amount of round robins, however, if i didn't watch your breakdown first i could have never known that the sustain pedal controls the mutes or that down and upstrokes were separated by octaves. It would be helpful to put that info in the GUI. This library has alot going for it but certain aspects of it are just unrealistic like how often the fret noise is triggered and even with the round robins it still sounds a bit robotic to me. I play guitar so i would never use this but someone who doesn't might get alot of use out of it. Really good job here

    septemberwalk01 November 2021
  • Well recorded guitar that doesn't quite play right

    Super high quality recording, and it feels like it has the potential to be really really great! However, the devil is in the details. There are lots of velocity layers and round robins, but there's fret noise assigned to release triggers, so if you play a chord repeatedly in 8th notes, you get fret noise between each note, and then illusion is instantly spoiled. It seems contradictory to use round robins, and then to do something which makes repeating notes useless. I thought the switching between muted and unmuted sounds with the sustain pedal was clever. This has potential to be good. This wants to be good, but it's not there yet.

    Sam Ecoff24 October 2021
  • Some ideas for better performance design

    I am personally very familiar with the CAGED system and I get how this can be very interesting for many people who either do not own a guitar or can't play that well. Putting it in a sampled instrument like this one is a very cool idea, but the actual implementetion of this one is questionable, especially for users not familiar with the idea behind it.

    First and foremost, why is there absolutely no clue that you need a sustain pedal to access the open chords, which is the main purpose anyway? What if the user has a simple midi keyboard with no sustain pedal? How are they supposed to perform? You are expecting them to sit down and program everything?

    Here's the solution: Use Keyswitches in the form of triggers, and make the open chords requiring no triggering. Also, why is the Reverb so well hidden in the GUI? It would be better if it was set at 10% so the user can actually see quickly that this is a user-configurable option. The good thing is that this is very well sampled, there is no audible noise and it simply works. A great additional option would be a way to switch between major and minor harmonies.

    Alex Raptakis01 December 2021