Keyboard Magazine review of Performance Loops Acoustic Guitars

Article Author
Keyboard Magazine Bob Schleeter

Pros: Outstanding performances. Excellent tone. Killer recordings.
Cons: Lack of fingerpicking material. No mention of major/minor tonality in loops.
Bottom Line: A great way to get top-quality acoustic guitar parts.

Yikes, I think to myself. The cover says “Over 1000 Guitar Loops and Samples.” Everybody I know already plays the guitar. Do we really need these?I press play on the audio CD, and I hear something I’ve never heard before – a 12-string guitar in tune. Okay, I’m a little interested. Second loop: These things have beautiful tone. A dozen loops later: Hey, some of these are quite musically interesting. A hundred loops later, I have to admit that while a lot of people pick guitar, not many can play this well or get this kind of sound from their instrument. Second-listener Ken Hughes concurred, saying, “These loops sound truly faboo. The placement of the stereo mics captured slightly different tones on each side, so if you wanted to use only one side for a mono part, there are actually two sounds to choose from. Bravo!”

Most of the loops have a folk-rock feel, but they are full of nuance and variation. They exploit two of the great things about acoustic guitars – open-string resonance and strumming rhythm patterns. Each track (or set of WAV files) contains several iterations of a basic phrase, with variations in accents, touch, chord movement, picking patterns, arpeggiation, and muting. I pasted three different sets into Pro Tools and had instant, seamless tracks that exhibited many of the nuances of a real player. There’s a good variety of tonalities, harmonic progressions, and tempos. Both pitch and tempo can be manipulated using Sonic Foundry’s Acid. The documentation includes an insert containing track, key, and tempo information, plus .htm files for each set that credit the player and list the instrument, microphone, preamp, processing, etc.

This package is done as about well as it can be done. What’s missing? There are really no fingerpicking loops, though a couple of the nylon-string latin/jazz patterns are played fingerstyle. Not everything is played to a click, so while you can celebrate the joys of human timing fluctuation, it may mean that the loop you love needs extra tweaking to work in certain types of productions. Tracks are listed by key center but no distinction is made for major or minor. The biggest drawback is that despite the large amount of variety, you’re likely to find yourself needing a chord progression or rhythm that’s not included. That aside, what’s here is rich, musical, and very appealing.

There may be 1352 guitar players where you live. Likely only a handful will be able to play as well and sound as good as this collection.