Francis Preve

Sound designer. Producer. Professor. Journalist. Author.

Filtering by Category: Ableton Live

Don't Fret: Synthesizing Rock Guitars

While working on a project recently, I realized that I needed a metal guitar riff to round out the arrangement. As fate would have it, my go-to guitarist, Shreddward (from the Bright Light Social Hour), was on tour. Since the deadline couldn’t wait, I realized I had to whip up the parts by hand using synths and effects. Naturally, I could have turned to a sample library for this, but I’m always up for a sound design challenge. So rather than rely on loops or a multi-sampled guitar, I decided to start from nothing and see what was possible. Within a few hours, I had some remarkably convincing parts that worked perfectly in the project. Here is the technique.


Create Additive Synth Sweeps in Ableton

Ableton’s Operator is incredibly powerful when it comes to FM and basic additive/subtractive techniques, but like several other additive softsynths, there’s no way to animate the harmonics for morphing effects. Fortunately, there’s a workaround that lets users create their own smoothly morphing harmonic structures. It just requires a few extra steps, but the result is shimmering, animated textures that are well-suited for unique pads and leads.


Master Class: Ableton Wavetable

Although Ableton Live 10 is packed with workflow enhancements and impressive new effects (such as Echo and Pedal), the biggest news for sound designers is Wavetable, an impressive new approach to wavetable-based synthesis, with an interface that lets you see nearly every design and modulation element on a single screen.

In this tutorial, we’ll examine Wavetable's features in depth, along with a few additional tips from Ableton’s Lead preset designer and soundteam member Huston Singletary.

[Full disclosure: I designed many of the wavetables that are included with this synth.]