Native Instruments - NI Guitar Rig 5 Pro

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Real guitar gear is known for its so-easy-a-guitarist-could-use-it simplicity, and yet virtual amp simulators continue to grow in complexity and capability.

Guitar Rig is easily one of the most feature-packed guitar/bass amp sims on the market, yet it remains one of the most user-friendly.

With this latest version, there are two new amp models, Control Room Pro for advanced mix-and-match cab/mic combos, six new effects, and a few crafty functional extras.

We're reviewing the software-only version here, but don't forget that there's the Kontrol edition too, bundled with the Rig Kontrol foot controller. The software comes as part of Komplete 8, too. It runs standalone or as a VST/AU/RTAS plug-in.

Initially, it might seem excessive that over a third of the GUI is given over to the (hideable) browser panel, but in our opinion, the most effective way of getting familiar with Guitar Rig is via the presets.

A lot of time has been put into these, and famous tones such as those of Satriani, Van Halen, Rammstein, ZZ Top, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC are all on hand. Joining the pre-existing 15 amps are the Van 51, which is clearly a Peavey 5150 emulation, and Hot Solo +, which appears to be a Soldano imitation, judging by the logo - the knob style and labels hint at Soldano's Hot Rod 50 model.

We found that these two new amps can be used together to great effect. The Hot Solo + provides an authentic mid-boosted AC/DC-style rhythm crunch, while soaring, shredding solo tones are effortlessly had with the Van 51.

Surprisingly, there's little difference in tone when switching between the rhythm and lead channel of the Van 51 once both pre-gain knobs are set to give similar drive. This is quite unlike both the real hardware and Peavey's official 5150 emulation in their ReValver software.

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