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Guitar Rig 4 : Full Review

Guitar Rig 4 : Full Review

Not too long ago guitarists had to rely on arrays or individual stomp boxes or expensive rack equipment to obtain the guitar tone of their dreams. Furthermore recording guitar tracks was a complicated business with carefully placed microphones and speakers into multitrack tape recorders.

In the home studio environment guitarists used four track recorders to get their ideas down on tape or mini disk with more time being spent setting up the recording environment than actually playing.


Thankfully all that has changed and I view the Apple Mac to be one of the most musician friendly computer systems there is. I have already covered some of the great Mac and iPhone applications for guitarists (Capo, Guitar Effects in Garageband, The Guitarist Toolkit for iPhone, The Tab Toolkit for iPhone, Recording Guitar in Garageband the Guitar Rig Session review) and now comes to piece de resistance of computer based guitar application in the form of Native Instruments Guitar Rig 4.

A few days ago I posted the exciting unboxing experience when my Guitar Rig 4 Kontrol edition finally arrived (view it here) You can see just how fully featured and sturdy the Kontroller actually is, a real stunning piece of hardware.

Installing Guitar Rig 4

installInstalling is a quick and easy process. Insert the Guitar Rig 4 DVD and follow the on screen instructions.

I would recommend restarting your Mac once the software has installed so OSX doesn’t have any driver issues.

Once restarted you can now set up your license via the Native Instruments Service Center, this is a quick registration process that links your Guitar rig license to your personal details.

A necessary anti-piracy step that also makes sure you have the most up to date version of the Guitar Rig software running on your Mac.

Setting up the Input Device

On first running Guitar Rig 4 you will need to select what guitar input device you are using. At this point I would have to recommend the utterly awesome Native Instruments Kontroller hardware.


It is solid and beyond fully featured with dual input and outputs, midi control, effects look and headphones (as well as the obvious foot controller and expression pedal benefits).

When Guitar Rig 4 loads, visit the preferences and select the appropriate device from the list.

At this point you can also adjust both the sample rate and latency although the default settings should work perfectly.

Ready to Rock

Now you have everything set up it is time to explore the Guitar Rig processing software.  Guitar Rig 4 feels much more glossy and polished than previous versions.

The interface is similar but a number of enhancements make it much easier to use and navigate. You can rate your presets and find the perfect sound via attribute break down.


Guitar Rig 4 comes with around 250 presets and to be honest I spent the first few hours going through and trying out each tone. The patches are spectacular and cover pretty much every playing style.

The software comes with a large number of cryptically named signature tones such as “Andy in a Bottle” which is coincidentally like Andy Summers from the Police and also doubles up perfectly as a great clean Pearl Jam sound.

Unlike hardware guitar processors Guitar Rig 4 allows you to take one of the presets and make it your own very easily.

New Amps

Version 4 comes with three totally new Amp voices that completely transform the factory presets. As you can see below the images have also been proved as part of the GUI overhaul.


Jump, a lighter version of the classic Lead 800, Cool Plex which is the Plex with sparker and saturation and finally Hot Plex a spice up rich tonal variation of the classic plex.

New Effects

There are now well over 40 different effects built into Guitar Rig with four notable new editions.


The Grain Delay allows for a spacious refinement of your tones as well as massive walls of echoing sound. With the Grain Delay, it gets just as weird as you like – and yet perfectly controllable.


The Octaverb is a powerful stereo reverb, precisely emulating the early acoustic reflections of eight different rooms. It also offers some unique features that can be used both for subtle tone shaping and for extreme effects.


The Iceverb is a very colorful reverb that puts you in a giant icy cave – or in an igloo! It offers a wide range of hall characteristics and a filter that can even be used like a very special wahwah effect when controlled with a foot pedal.


The Twin Delay combines two parallel delay modules to provide advanced stereo effects. It works like a charm for bouncing the sound from left to right in any imaginable way.

The Control Room

One of my favourite new aspects to Guitar Rig 4 has to be the “Control Room” The Control Room really introduces the recording techniques of professional analog studios into a software application.

The Control Room offers guitarists total control over their tone allowing you to create a rich natural sound reproduction with the addition of superb tonal clarity.


With just a few fader moves you can create the sound of professional studio recordings and then save it as a patch, thus creating your very own signature sound.

It is amazing just how much difference to a tone the Control Room actually makes. My first impression was to consider the feature as some sort of fancy EQ setting but it is considerably more.

In fact the Control room can have more effect on your final guitar sound that tweaking some of the Effects in the loop.

Recording in Garageband

Like Guitar Rig 3 you can use your presets directly to record your riffs in Garageband. Exit out of Guitar Rig 4 as it doesn’t have to be open to work with external applications. Load Garageband and add a new instrument (make sure you select “Real Instrument”).

Garage Band
Click the “i” button on the bottom right of the Garageband screen (you can see ours is now blue in the screen shot) and then add “Guitar Rig 4″;.

Clicking on the sliders icon (see above) loads the Guitar Rig 4 interface where you select and tweak your guitar sound. Clicking the “i” button again closes the Guitar Rig 4 window and allows you to record your guitar playing in Garageband.

This is one feature of the whole Guitar Rig experience I really love. It is one thing being able to recreate the perfect tone but being able to quickly and easily record your ideas in Garageband make the ultimate guitar suite for Mac.


I realise I have been excitedly positive throughout this review like a child with a new toy. I a struggling hard to find anything negative about this package.

It is obviously available as a ‘software only’ package but if this is your first step into the Guitar software arena I can’t recommend the Kontrol hardware more. It not only offers a studio quality Guitar-Computer interface it is also one of the best guitar foot controllers I have used.

If you are using the previous version of Guitar Rig then I think version 4 is definitely worth the upgrade. The Control Room, new amps and effects make it a considerable update to version 3.

Expect a few Guitar Rig tutorials in the months to come.

Native Instruments

Summary :

  • 15 supreme-sounding guitar and bass amps
  • Brand new Control Room module offers carefully tweaked professional mikings for unparalleled studio tones.
  • New Matched Cabinets (version 4) offers a harmonized speaker setup for every single amp
  • 48 perfectly modelled guitar effects including distortions, flangers, choruses, tremolos, wah-wahs, pitch shifting, delays and reverbs plus premium features like the loop machine and powerful modifiers.
  • New Master Effect section retains reverberation and delays while changing presets
  • Improved preset browser with extensive search functions and KORE 2 format compatibility
  • more than 250 brand new, high-quality presets for all genres
  • True stereo processing for all components
  • Cabinets & mics module with 17 guitar and six bass cabinets, four rotary speakers and nine microphones
  • Integrated tuner, metronome and two tapedeck modules for easy recording
  • Dedicated “Live View” for performing on stage
  • All Guitar Rig 4 software versions are fully expandable with upcoming Guitar Rig Expansion Packs

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