Acoustic guitars

Electric guitars

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How to play guitar parts on a piano keyboard

1. Voicing
One of the most important things you need to know when you want to create guitar parts, is the fundamental principles of guitar voicing.

When you play the guitar you place the single notes of a chord in a different way than you do on a piano keyboard. Therefor you have to changes the way you build your chords in order to obtain a realistic sound. Even though most sample instruments from Jensen Samples includes actually recorded chords, these voicing principles are very useful when you want arpeggio guitar figures or chords as an integrated part of a theme in your music productions.

Let us look at some typical guitar chords:

1. The open A-chord played on guitar:

The same chord transferred to piano:

2. The open D-chord played on guitar:

The same chord transferred to piano:

3. The open E-chord played on guitar:

The same chord transferred to piano:

As you see: a typical way to build chords is:
1st - 5th - 1st - 3rd - 5th

The major chords can be changed to add9 or sus4 chords in order to create variation.

add9: 1st - 5th - 1st - 2nd - 5th.

sus4: 1st - 5th - 1st - 4th - 5th

The same principles can be used when you play minor chords.

The next you need to realize, is the fact that a guitar only have six strings. This means that you can never play more than six notes at a time. But that is not all: if two notes are placed at the same string, they can never sound simultaneous.

The difficult part is to figure out when two notes are placed on the same string. There is no easy way to do this! In general there has to be more than a third between two notes in order to spread the notes to separate strings. BUT as you can see in the examples above, there are exceptions. It is possible to play semitones. But this can only be done because the intervals before and after are relative big (5 semitones).
Confused? A good guideline is: in a arpeggio figure there can be only one small (semi or full tone) interval.

2. Single string / solo
The vibrato, glissandos and bends are important parts of the guitar sound. Most sample instruments from Jensen Samples include recorded vibrator on order to obtain a realistic sound. But you can also create the vibrato and the bends with the pitch-bender on your keyboard.

In most cases you bend the strings one full note, but semitones and thirds are also used. In a typical MIDI keyboard setup you simply press a note and move the pitchbender all the way up. In most cases you release the note BEFORE you release the bender!

A good rock'n'roll trick: play a note, bend to maximum, keep the bender at maximum and play a second note one third above while you still hold the first one. But be sure not to move the bender while the second notes is activated.

Acoustic guitars can not bend as easily as electric guitars. When you play with an acoustic sound use the bender with care. On a steel string guitar only the two highest strings can be bended. Therefor you should only bend notes above C4. Guitarist very rarely bends strings on guitars with nylon strings.

Glissandos and other effects
Glissandos are nearly impossible to recreate on a piano keyboard. Some sample instruments from Jensen Samples includes various glissandos, pick noise and other effects. Try to use these effects at any opportunity in your sequences. It results in a much more authentic sound.

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