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fret_man

Violin / Fiddle VSTi recommendation?

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Does anyone have a recommendation for a solo violin / fiddle VSTi suitable for folk/bluegrass/Celtic/world music? I'm not (necessarily) looking for orchestral/classical sounds, but it needs to be convincing. I'm not a keyboard player so not so concerned with how accessible it is for keyboardist to achieve live realism. I'm not afraid of steep learning curves and used to digging into details to fine-tune the articulations, although something easier to get useable sounds is better than harder. This would be used in both supportive and solo roles, so sound quality needs to be quite high.

My must-haves are:
Win10
No iLok

There are so many violins available. I'm having a very hard time knowing what to invest in. Any recommendations?

Thank you! Paul

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My go-to fiddles are -

- Bolder folk fiddle. Nice and controllable.  Great developer

- Red Room Traveller series.  They have the Bluegrass,  Celtic and Gypsy fiddles. Nice tones,  you'll need the celtic, I assume.  Control of these fiddles is an acquired taste.

- Embertone Friedlander - not really a folky fiddle, but quite controllable,  especially with sordinol, and you can modify for the required folky tone with the bow position relative to the bridge.

Like you,  I don't play them on keyboards, I draw in on the piano roll view (actually on Cubase). For learning curves, none of them are bad,  but Red Room Travellers may need a little more patience for the articulations. 

I recently got the Westwood Viola Untamed which is a gem.  I imagine their violin is also excellent.

On top of all this I'm actually taking the plunge to learning to play the fiddle, but that's going to take some time!

Jerry

 

 

 

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My go-to solo violin these days is the SWAM violin from Audio Modeling. It's a modeled instrument, not a sample library, and I like that for its small memory footprint and quick load times. One of the things I like best about a modeled violin is the ability to do slides of any length or speed, something that doesn't work well in most affordable sampled strings.

Here it is in action. It's a project I made while writing up the SWAM instruments for SoundBytes Magazine. It features several of the SWAM instruments: violin, clarinet, flute, cello and double bass. The string ensemble you hear in there is another nice but very affordable ($35) string library, Arctic Strings from FrozenPlain.

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Dave - that's a nice demo of SWAM, but I don't hear much detail of the violin.  I had a look at SWAM and it looks interesting from the point of view of playability,  variations,  etc. It seems there's a selection of violin bodies.  Would you say there are fiddles in SWAM suitable for folk (Bluegrass,  Celtic,  etc)? 

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The full Kontakt Factory Library has a solo fiddle under "World > Strings".

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On 7/23/2021 at 11:29 PM, jerrydf said:

...Would you say there are fiddles in SWAM suitable for folk (Bluegrass,  Celtic,  etc)? 

I don't know, honestly. What's the difference between an orchestral violin and a bluegrass fiddle? I've always assumed the only difference is playing technique.

Well, on second thought they may also be recorded differently, e.g. close- vs. far-mics, reverberant spaces vs. dry. But in a modeled instrument these are not baked into the sound as they would be in a sample library. You'll use artificial reverb to place the instrument in a virtual space, rather than choosing a mic position like you would in a Kontakt library.

 

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4 hours ago, bitflipper said:

What's the difference between an orchestral violin and a bluegrass fiddle?

Great question. Theoretically, none. but perhaps IRL, it might come down to the quality of the instrument being sampled and the player's technique. There are times where you want something that sounds like it's been hanging on a barn wall for most of the week and only gets pulled down for a trip across the bayou for some Friday night hoedown. Might have to check for a "cajun" preset in iZotope's Trash.  

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44 minutes ago, jackson white said:

sounds like it's been hanging on a barn wall for most of the week and only gets pulled down for a trip across the bayou for some Friday night hoedown.

Yes, that's the deal! I think, certainly as far as violins and fiddles are represented in virtual instruments, violins are smooth, sweet and full ranged, whereas fiddles are that bit rougher. As I mentioned, I often use either Embertone's Friedlander or EW Diamond Violin as a fiddle, but I tend to notch up a band around 1.5kHz to give it that impure tone! I'll proably add a bit of compression and even distortion (Ashley MacIsaac style). However, you're also correct in that it is the way the instrument is played,  often with some more overstated attack on a fiddle. 

I'm amassing quite an armoury of violins and fiddles now in my repertoire of Celtic/folky fiddles. Looks like I'll succumb to the SWAM out of pure curiosity before too long. Maybe tomorrow *...

Jerry

* Maybe Tomorrow - flip side to the Everly Brothers Wake Up Little Suzie.

 

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I don't have a barn. Does a garage count?

Although I've seen no evidence that virtual instruments get better with age. 

 

I just checked the Audio Modeling website to see if they have demos available. I saw no obvious link, but on my account page it does have a category named "trial/evaluation" that suggests they do. It might be worth contacting them to check. They're running a sale through August, btw.

Note that the violin I've been talking up has been discontinued, superseded by Version 3, which I don't have. I can only assume that it's even better now than when I got it. Still trying to decide whether to upgrade - $90 for the solo strings bundle (violin/viola/cello/bass). I have all four, but really only use the violin regularly.

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On 7/25/2021 at 3:14 PM, jerrydf said:

the way the instrument is played,  often with some more overstated attack on a fiddle.

The attack/bowing technique are probably the key to some kind of "acoustic distortion" more than the instrument itself perhaps with a less refined approach to sampling, (Doug Kershaw and a fifth instead of Joshua Bell and state of the art recording techniques?) I tried several types of preamp distortion to get a more 'lofi' sound but it all sounded 'electronic' and not so usable. 

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You might give Fiddle! from Bolder Sounds a try. I haven't used it myself, but everything I've gotten from him in the past has been pretty good. One difference I hear from my traditional violin instruments is that it's recorded very dry. 

Downside: needs full Kontakt.

 

 

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Thanks Dave, nice comparison. He probably didn't have the best demo for each. You can't transfer a set of midi notes from one vst to another; you have to hand craft them to play to their respective strengths.  His first tune with the RR Bluegrass was way too choppy and ideally would have had slurs on some notes to remove some of the repetative hard edges. I'm loking at the Taylor Davis at the moment., I'd come across this before, but forgot about it for a while.

jdf

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So far I'm liking Bolder Sounds and Taylor Davis. Embertones Friedlander sounds really good, too, but I may have to  play with it to get a better feel for its folkiness.

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On 7/24/2021 at 8:29 AM, jerrydf said:

Dave - that's a nice demo of SWAM, but I don't hear much detail of the violin.  I had a look at SWAM and it looks interesting from the point of view of playability,  variations,  etc. It seems there's a selection of violin bodies.  Would you say there are fiddles in SWAM suitable for folk (Bluegrass,  Celtic,  etc)? 

SWAM instruments are as far as I've been able to find the most expressive virtual instruments imaginable. However, in order to really let it shine you need a dedicated controller like the TEControl USB MIDI Breath Controller (I use this, but there are some other nice options as well). There's also a food controller that adds  more expression options. I would certainly check out more of their videos to get an idea of the possibilities. And @bitflipper just pointed to another video in another thread: a very cool gesture controller

Another bit older but interesting discussion about fiddle VSTs: fiddle virtual instrument

Two other comparisons that at least give some idea about the strengths/weaknesses of the different violin VSTs:

best violin vsts (July 2020)

Best Violin VST Plugins of 2021 – Round-up Review
 

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After all that I've just taken the plunge with Embertone's Joshua Bell Essential.  It has a fantastic tone which can easily support the folk/world requirements. The Essential version seems sufficient for most of what I need, although I've only just acquired it and I'm still low down the learing curve (but it seems quite usable). There is an upgrade path to the full version if required.

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And now I just found Infinity Samples has a folk violin. It didn't sound very real in the Celtic demo but the acoustic jam sounded pretty good. But it's only $43 and I worry a little I'd get what I pay for.

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6 hours ago, fret_man said:

And now I just found Infinity Samples has a folk violin. It didn't sound very real in the Celtic demo but the acoustic jam sounded pretty good. But it's only $43 and I worry a little I'd get what I pay for.

Yes,  I have that one,  but I don't think I've ever used it.  It's ok, and as you say,  you get what you pay for.  With Bolder and Friedlander I've never felt the need to invest any time in it.  However I'm finding the Joshua Bell is really excellent, especially at $99 for the Essential version.  It's between that and Bolder.  When I first got Bolder I had a problem with it and Dennis really worked well to resolve it.  Top developer! 

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Hi Jerrydf, regarding Joshua Bell, there's a Celtic articulation that involves a quick little flick of the right bowing hand to produce a quick little scratching sound (called a treble). Can the Joshua Bell instrument replicate that? I asked on the Embertone forum quite a while ago and never got a response. I guess no one there knows. Do you determine if it can do the treble articulation? Thanks,

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Fretman - I still haven't explored all the articulations and possibilities - there's an awful lot here!  At lower velocities you can get a real scratchy soundwhich may be close to what you want. There's no doubt that this is a huge professional instrument. Even then, I think there may be occasions where Bolder (and maybe Red Room) fit better with various requirements, but Joshua Bell really has a great range of possibilities, including different violin tomes.  You can certainly get an excellent fiddle here, nt just the classical violin.  I'm still trying to get around all the keyswitches, etc.  Personally (and I use violins exclusively as fiddles for folk/country/celtic/cajun, etc) I'm really pleased with the J Bell .

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