Guitar Pro 7 is a powerful tool, not just for creating guitar tabs and sheet music, but also for building audio examples. The software houses a full library of audio templates and sounds that includes various instruments (electric, acoustic and bass guitars), amp models and effects- both rack and pedal-based. It's truly one of the more underrated and under-promoted aspects of the Guitar Pro environment and home recording in general.
In this tutorial I'll show you how to use these features to build ambient reverb tones you can then use to playback your guitar tabs.
Here's what we'll cover in the process:
- Navigating and using the "sounds" interface
- Configuring the amp models with onboard reverb and tremolo
- Configuring the reverb pedals
- Building and testing melodies with ambient effects
The software is available for both Mac and PC users.
Once you have it installed and the application is running, you'll be good to go.
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The Main User Interface
Once you open GP7 you'll start a new "empty" project, which will take you to a screen that looks something like this:
The toolbars to the left, right and bottom of the white space can all be toggled on or off via the top menu, right beneath the "File" and "Edit" menu options.
Once you're comfortable with the interface, go ahead and build a simple melody using just a couple bars of quarter notes. We'll use these two measures to test sounds and establish our layer of reverb. Once we nail down a tone template we can come back to the guitar tab and build something a little more musically interesting.
The Sound Modeler
If you listen to the playback - which you can do easily with player at the top of the screen or from the above sound sample - it's clear that you're hearing an electric guitar with a clean, simple signal.
These sounds are already modeled into Guitar Pro 7.
On the right-side menu, we can see how that sound is configured in the software by default:
The "SOUNDS" section contains three basic components:
- The library selector
- The sound bank
- The effects chain
We'll leave the soundbank on "Strat" for now. Let's start our tweaking by looking at the processors in the effects chain that are already being used.
Choosing a Preamp or Amp Model
The first "pedal" in the effects chain is called a "preamp," which is the default for our clean Strat soundbank.
Click the dropdown button and switch this to the "Tweed" model under "Guitar Amp."
After selecting the amp model I adjusted the three-band EQ to approximately the following:
- Bass: 7
- Mid Range: 6
- Treble: 4
With this amp model enabled, the tone we get from our guitar tab is substantially thicker and warmer than the previous recording, though not quite a full distortion.
Now you'll notice that instead of just a pedal EQ, we have an actual amp model that can serve as the preamp for the rest of our digital pedals.
Let's move onto the EQ right beneath our new amp model.
This EQ was also a default setting provided by Guitar Pro and is set to a completely flat line- having little or no impact on your signal. Let's go into the EQ pedal and set it to the "Rhythm" preset.
I used the rhythm preset then made a few manual tweaks to the EQ, bringing the highs down and giving the low end a little additional boost. The difference in the audio is subtle but still discernible.
Adding the Reverb Layer
Now that we have a base tone with an amp model and EQ pedal, we can start experimenting with different ambient effect layers. Since we want to feature reverb, we'll start by adding that layer then combine it with other effects to accentuate its impact.
Start by clicking on an empty slot (beneath the Tweed and EQ) to add a new effect. Navigate down to the "Reverb" menu option and select "Ambience."
When you pull up this effect, there are a lot of different ways you can adjust the sound. After some tinkering of my own, these are the settings for the digital processor and the resulting reverb layer I came up with:
Fine Tuning Your Tone with a More Dark and Interesting Melody
Now that we've narrowed down our tone, let's come up with a more interesting tab that we can use as a sandbox to fine-tune our effect and add some extra layers. After some improvising, here's a simple, darker-sounding arrangement I came up with on the low A and E strings.
Here's what this tab sounds like with our current tone configuration:
Adding Variety with Secondary Effects Layers
Now that we have a melody we want to work with we can experiment with other effects to create more interesting sounds and layers. For example, if we wanted the lick to have a more rhythmic feel to it, we could add a timed delay.
Click another empty effects slot, go to "Digital Effects" and click on "D-Delay."
After some trial-and-error tweaking with the delay processor, I got a decently-timed echo trail coming off of our reverberated melody.
Here are the settings I used on the pedal model:
And the audio results:
In this recording we've got all the following elements working together:
- An amp model serving as a digital preamp running a three-band EQ
- An EQ pedal for fine-tuning the clean tone
- An ambient reverb layer
- A rhythmic echo created by a digital delay pedal
This takes an otherwise uninteresting grouping of notes and turns it into something with a musically "eerie" quality. In Guitar Pro 7, it allows you to have a clearer picture of what your tab is going to sound like when it's complete or when it's applied to certain instruments.
Let's try to modify the ambient layer with some other effects and processors.
Power off the delay, and add a tremolo effect to replace it. I used the "Opto Tremolo" from the same drop down menu and set the speed to four Hz.
And here are the audio results:
MXR 90-Style Phaser
We'll work in one more effect by deleting the opto tremolo and adding in an MXR P90-style phaser effect. By now, you've probably gotten a pretty clear picture of how the process works so I'll just show you the parameters on the pedal and provide a sound sample.
The Benefit of Setting Up Custom Tones in Guitar Pro
Guitar Pro is a type of music notation software.
So why would you want to take the time setting up tones and sounds within the software itself? Additionally, why did Arobas even include that functionality and put so much work into it?
There are a couple reasons I think this is valuable.
1. It helps you plan your music
In simpler terms, using these features allows you to experiment. You can test out certain riffs and melodies before they're finalized. This is why I took the time to work through several different effect layers on top of our reverb. If you know you want a reverb-heavy melody, but you're not sure what it might sound like, you can test out your ideas directly from the tab sheet.
2. It Allows you to Tweak and Test Quickly
When I sit down to tab something out or write a piece of sheet music, it's helpful to avoid having to go back to my instrument before being finished. If I can test sounds and tones quickly, without having to abandon my train of thought, it's a major time-saver.
The Guitar Pro software is extremely powerful, and capable of nearly any kind of guitar-related sheet music or tab manipulation you can think of. It's also a far better alternative to the "Courier" font guitar tabs you see on a lot of tab sites.
Getting familiar with the tone section of the software makes it usable, and ideal for testing different melodic and notational ideas.
Other Guitar Pro Links and Resources
In addition to a few other tutorials we've published, these are all the Guitar Pro links relevant to this article.
- Guitar Pro 7 Download Link: Download a trial or full version of Guitar Pro 7
- GTP Tabs: A website where you can download tab and sheet music files of songs compatible with the Guitar Pro software
- Guitar Pro's Support Page: A variety of articles, videos and resources providing support for Guitar Pro 6 and 7 users.