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Which guitar package for vintage surf sound?

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Utter Cakewalk noobie here, who wants to compose some surf tunes to use in videos. A little background first, because I've got some limitations. Arthritic hands have destroyed what limited skills I had on guitar (can barely play my ukulele, and even that hurts), and I was never any sort of a keyboardist. "Live" performance recording is just not a realistic option. So... it looks like I'll have to manually bash my way through laying down tracks on the piano roll  (please let me know if I'm wrong, because I know that will be slow)

Anyway, assuming my approach above will work, I'm looking for opinions on guitars to get a vintage surf sound, like RealStrat, SC Electric Guitar, EW Quantum Leap Ministry of Rock, Orange Tree (Texas Twang, or Rock Standard), Native Instruments, etc. etc. Comments on amp and reverb VSTs would also be welcome.  I'm still in the steep part of the learning curve, and it's a huge universe of tools.

 

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The surf sound was primarily a Fender guitar and a spring reverb. Fender Jaguars and Stratocasters were very popular followed by Telecasters and Jazzmasters. Any Fender derivative VST will work for that although playing a real guitar is best. Add in the spring reverb into any Fender style amp/cabinet will do it. Actually, just about any amp/cabinet will work if the sound is kept fairly clean. The key is the Fender guitar sound and spring reverb.

Both the TTS-1 and Munt MT-32 have guitar sounds that are very Fender.

I did it with my Casio MG510 Midi/Stratocaster guitar and TH3 using the AQTX spring reverb and Dark Face amp. I used the guitar analog pickups, not the midi. The guitar is a decent Stratocaster copy.

 

Edited by Terry Kelley
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3 hours ago, Terry Kelley said:

Both the TTS-1 and Munt MT-32 have guitar sounds that are very Fender.

Thanks, that's the sort of info I'm looking for.  I'm familiar with what goes into the surf sound when it's played by real instruments, but not which packages out there supply the sounds to match. I've actually got a Strat, so I know what things *should* sound like, but have read some reviews on some guitar synths that didn't impress, despite looking like they'd be decent. I didn't want to spend time and money on packages that didn't deliver the goods. Your input is appreciated!

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That will depend on the kind of surf sound you want. Surf guitar on instrumental music and music with vocals are two different things. While the spirit of of the surf sound is a very boingy spring reverb ( the kind that make the "droplet" sound when a muted note is picked ), there's also a hint of vibrato and tremolo in some instances, especially in cases where the amp used doesn't have those. Although a clean sound is mentioned, some of the surf sounds are fairly overdriven or push the amp into breaking up. If you were playing yourself, this would be the trick to get that Dick Dale sound without having to use the very thick strings Dick used ( he used 016 gauge strings ).

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I've lately been listening to some of the older Ventures records I have.

I have the opposite problem of OP.

Know the DAW, but guitar skill is not so great.

Wilson guitars has some guitars on their site, that are modeled on the ones they played.

Not sure if they are still in business. Saw one Wilson 65 on Ebay a while back, but none recently.

Posting to remind me if I find a plugin, I'll post it . New to Cakewalk, but about 5 years on Ableton,.

Haven't been interested in composing mixing for the last 2 years , so skills a bit rusty.

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as a guitar player with hand & wrist issues, i found that switching to a guitar that has nylon strings allows me to play for a long time.  i picked up a used Cordoba C5CE with a pickup in it (for $250) so that i can plug it into all my fx pedals & then into my PC.  with the right pedals, you might get pretty close to an approximation of the surf sound.

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I'm sort of tainted to make a tutorial on how to emulate those sounds using synthesis. Personally as a guitar player mysef, I feel many guitar plugins fall short or don't emulate all of the stuff properly. Guitar is one of the hardest instruments to emulate because of its vast amount of articulations and sounds you can make, in many instances per note. MPE controllers sort of get you there but all demos often come from keyboard players that don't know how a guitar is supposed to sound.

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I'm not sure of the sound even listening to records. There's some reverb in there, so easy to find even free plugin that does reverb well.I have a Blackstar Beam amp. Even going thru the community patches, have not found the surf guitar sound. Tried a tele and my Epi Les Paul. Then also there's the tremelo bar the surf guitar has. I guess you could mess with a delay in Cakewalk. I've just gotten into cakewalk , and still figuring it out. May be some plugins floating around in the Bandlab, when you explore the online daw. IDK.

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On 2/8/2021 at 9:25 PM, Joel Stolarski said:

I'm not sure of the sound even listening to records. There's some reverb in there, so easy to find even free plugin that does reverb well.I have a Blackstar Beam amp. Even going thru the community patches, have not found the surf guitar sound. Tried a tele and my Epi Les Paul. Then also there's the tremelo bar the surf guitar has. I guess you could mess with a delay in Cakewalk. I've just gotten into cakewalk , and still figuring it out. May be some plugins floating around in the Bandlab, when you explore the online daw. IDK.

That's almost always spring reverb, especially on guitar. The strange aim of surf guitar is emulating water sounds. That droplet plinking sound can only be done with spring reverb.

You don't necessarily need a strat or a whammy bar to do it. If you have a guitar that has a strident sound naturally, like a Tele, you don't need much tweaking. For a Les Paul, depending on the pickups you have, you might need something like a Treble Booster before the amp or an overdrive and a different amp.

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16 hours ago, Bruno de Souza Lino said:

That's almost always spring reverb, especially on guitar. The strange aim of surf guitar is emulating water sounds. That droplet plinking sound can only be done with spring reverb.

You don't necessarily need a strat or a whammy bar to do it. If you have a guitar that has a strident sound naturally, like a Tele, you don't need much tweaking. For a Les Paul, depending on the pickups you have, you might need something like a Treble Booster before the amp or an overdrive and a different amp.

Thank you so much for the help.  The guitar is kicking my butt lately.  Very challenging for me.  I really do better mixing, than playing. But, even my mixing has taken a hit. I have post Corona issues. Focus , concentration taken a hit. Hoping doing some music can help.

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3 hours ago, Joel Stolarski said:

Thank you so much for the help.  The guitar is kicking my butt lately.  Very challenging for me.  I really do better mixing, than playing. But, even my mixing has taken a hit. I have post Corona issues. Focus , concentration taken a hit. Hoping doing some music can help.

You're welcome. Maybe I'm aiming more towards instrumental surf music. This method of slightly pushing the amp to work harder is necessary to get that Dick Dale sound without having to use 016 gauge strings. Granted that I'm currently using 012's tuned one step down, which are not a light gauge by any stretch. Since heavier strings have more mass, you get more bass from the guitar and also volume.

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i use 12's on my '64 fender mustang, it's single coil pickups give it the proper "surfer guitar" sound. even when i don't want it to 🙂 of course a decent fender telecaster will do as well. and as Bruno points out - spring reverb on a fender 12w amp will complete it. in theory, you could use some amp sims to create that rig - TH-U, Amplitube, Revalver, etc etc. however the source of the twangy-ness is that fender guitar single pickup sound...

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On 2/10/2021 at 11:40 PM, Glenn Stanton said:

i use 12's on my '64 fender mustang, it's single coil pickups give it the proper "surfer guitar" sound. even when i don't want it to 🙂 of course a decent fender telecaster will do as well. and as Bruno points out - spring reverb on a fender 12w amp will complete it. in theory, you could use some amp sims to create that rig - TH-U, Amplitube, Revalver, etc etc. however the source of the twangy-ness is that fender guitar single pickup sound...

You technicality can create that sound using a bassy amp like a Marshall, but it requires more tweaking.

I've seen a few tutorials on the matter, but all of them go for period specific gear. Things like obscure guitars, effects and amps you can only find with your local Reverb scalper. I'll see if I do a semi tutorial on it.

 

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Sorry for late reply.  I thought i ordered bigger strings for my G&L ASAT Classic.  I got Slinky 9's. Been lax on practicing. This damn Cakewalk is so much more complicated in workflow than the Ableton.  I found a mastering template, that sounds so unbelievably good, that I can't believe it.  It's an old one, and I would bet that the instuments were recorded professionally. Tried to take what I had put together for a Skio remix contest and didn't sound so hot. Sounded good on the daw, but when I uploaded to Skio, the track is just lifeless. Sigh... Got back to doing the daw for a friend, that can do some half decent rap. Anyway,drifting off topic.

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