Computers – a category now very likely including the phone in your pocket – open up worlds of utility that previously required dedicated devices. Audio recorder? Metronome? Tuner? There’s really no reason that shouldn’t be right in the box.

That said, our friend Marco Raaphorst was musing on the absence of a guitar tuner in Ableton Live – and in the process, reminds us that that other Berlin developer has quite the freebie for anyone who needs a tuner in Live, or simply wants a whole load of cool effects whether they play a guitar or not.

Guitar Rig Player adds a fully-functioning guitar tuner to Ableton Live – the tuner Ableton left out. But it does more than that. You get a whole load of effects for instruments, enough stuff that producers who don’t play any instruments might want to give this a download. As with most things, it’s not entirely free. You have to give up your email address (though you aren’t required to opt into any newsletter), and you do have to install NI’s Service Center and enter a serial. That process was painless for me, though (having just repeated it on a brand new machine).

In exchange, you get not just a tuner, but a bunch of really capable effects and tools:

  • Jump Amp (British amp) and cabinet
  • Skreamer distortion/overdrive
  • Chorus/flanger, pitch modulation
  • Studio reverb
  • Delay Man vintage-style delay unit including chorus and vibrato
  • Twin Delay stereo delay
  • Parametric EQ
  • Shelving EQ
  • Pro-Filter, borrowed from the Pro-53
  • Limiter
  • Volume pedal
  • Tube compressor
  • Noise gate
  • Noise reduction

Note that you’ll need to go into Components > Products and select “Factory Selection” to avoid the demos of other things. Once you do that, though, non Guitar Rig users get a tasty selection of tools you can easily combine into some powerful chains.

Oh, and the tuner.


Speaking of tuners, Marco also endorses the Max for Live fp.Tune, as he saw on CDM in our previous Max for Live round-up. This is, naturally, more practical than Guitar Rig if you only want a tuner in your chain, as it integrates more neatly with Ableton – though it’s only free if you have Live 9 Suite. He also endorses smartphone tools, which have the advantage of working all the time – even when away from your lappy.

But I’m curious, now. How do you assemble your signal chains for guitars and other instruments? And what are you using for a tuner? Built-in tools, like those found in Reason and Logic? Hardware tuners? Guitar Rig and the like? Your iPhone or Android? Some combination?

I’d love to hear your workflows, so sound off. And check out Marco’s article among lots of other thoughtful commentaries on music and production:

How to tune a guitar with Ableton Live []

  • Henry

    I have used Logic’s built-in amps and guitar effects a lot already, but found myself being stuck to some presets all too much. Well, I am not a “real” guitarist in the first place. I play my guitar to scribble some chord progressions or to add some texture here and there. But for those purposes, Logic’s devices served me very well.

    The same applies to Reason’s own rack devices. However, here, I have always felt more inspired to try all sorts of effects devices together, yielding much more experimental results for my guitar sounds. Especially Polar and Alligator are absolutely great for doing crazy stuff.

    Honestly, the amp simulations in Live sound rubbish to me. I don’t want to start a discussion about audio quality or so, but compared to Logic and Reason, Live just does not live up to it for my taste. So, I dismissed those rather quickly again.

    Right now, I am trying out Guitar Rig (funny that you give it the space of an own post, Peter – I wonder why?) inside Maschine to see how it works with audio recording workflow and the like…

  • Tracy Evans

    Guitar Rig is a great tool. I have used it on and off in my rig for a few years. Right now it is more off than on, but reading this makes me want to fire it up again.

    I would recommend anyone using guitars in Live check out this big free chunk of Guitar Rig. Even if you are not into guitars, you might dig it. George Duke used to run his keyboards through Guitar Rig.

  • Will Copps

    I downloaded a free iOS app called Pano Tuner that is very nice to have handy on my phone, especially for acoustics… there seem to be quite a few in the app store.

  • Alfredo bicho Vargas

    AP Tuner for Windows is fantastic

  • Charles

    Fractal Audio Axe-Fx -> FireWire interface -> Mac

    That said, software amp sims are an easy way to add some warmth or grunge to synth sounds.

  • abe

    I use Spectrum in Ableton – it works quite nicely. I also use Ik’s Amplitube from time to time.

  • atrocious

    Here is another free cross-platform tuner that I’ve been using for a while:

  • MusicalEntropy

    I don’t like at all the sound from Guitar Rig or Logic/Live included guitar amps. I suggest people who wants free alternatives without any compromise on the sound to try the free plug-ins from LePou, Ignite Amps, or TSE.

  • Rick Vallone

    Guitar Rig is really cool but lately I’ve been using a Fender Mustang Floor unit for my tones. I plug dry into ableton and route that channels output into the Fender unit. That way I have the dry audio while producing if I decide the tone needs changing, like I could do with guitar rig.

    My favorite rig that I ever had was running straight into a Fender Hot Rod Deville 410, then from that amps effect loop into Plogue Bidule hosting vsts. From there or went back to the fender along with apeavey classic chorus 212. Controlled it all with a behringer fcb1010.

    My back decided it wasn’t worthwhile to carry all that weight so I switched to guitar rig.

  • Dartanyan Brown

    I’ve been using GR since v.3 and started using it as a plug-in within Live about two months ago. Wonderful for everything including processing vocal improvisations. Slightly off-topic but finding that Digital Performer’s recording sound quality is way ahead of Live (to my ears) so using the two as a workflow (produce in DP, then to Live for performance prep) is a real winner.

  • Mat Janson Blanchet

    I used to have my guitar go through MaxMSP as well as some hardware guitar pedals via a Firestudio Project. With an FCB1010 I would activate some patches, some included digital effects I built in Max, some other the actual pedals.

    I currently only use hardware guitar pedals (, but I recently got a Roland MIDI pickup and a GI-20, so I’ll be going through Ableton to trigger some MIDI instruments in there. I may very well find a way to use the FCB1010 to change instruments or settings.

  • gbsr

    This is common knowledge by anyone who knows anything about audio software, and I would think that your readers does know a thing or two. How this became an article is beyond me.

  • David Kuder

    With the article being Ableton centric, its not obvious that Guitar Rig will work with any VST, AU, RTAS, CoreAudio, AAX hosts, or standalone.

  • Sean Harold

    I have a series of posts about my process approaching Ableton as a guitarist – using Looptimus foot pedals and Guitar Wing to control Guitar Rig 5 Pro. Check it out if you like – perhaps it can save the noobs some time: