Tested by Kent Carmical
Guitar Tracks Pro 3 ($209 retail/$149 street) rocks the world of guitar players and singer/songwriters alike by taking the best aspects of digital-audio workstations and loop-based groove software, and simplifying the recording and editing processes. Guitar Tracks Pro (Windows only) lets you record and play back up to 32 audio tracks, and to make the program an even sweeter deal for 6-string recordists, Cakewalk throws in some excellent amp models and guitar-specific effects.
Guitar Tracks makes throwing together backing tracks a breeze. Cakewalk supplies several hundred MB of instrument and drum loops in Sonic Foundry’s Acid format, which allows audio clips of different keys and tempo to play together perfectly.
All you have to do is audition the clips in the browser, and drag the ones you like to a track until you have constructed a suitable groove. One note: While the Acid loops will all beat match if you change the overall tempo, the audio tracks you record don’t, so get your tempo down before you start layering guitar and vocal bits.
The fun really starts when you record guitar tracks. Just select a track, set your input levels, hit record, and strike your best rock-star pose. Guitar Tracks Pro includes IK Multimedia’s wicked AmpliTube LE amp plug-in, which provides amp models (clean, crunch, and lead), cabinet emulations (1x12, 2x12, and 4x12), and stompbox simulations (wah, delay, and overdrive). AmpliTube is the real cherry on the Guitar Tracks sundae, as it does a fantastic job of creating variations on just about every vintage or modern tone you might be looking for. Want more effects? The included GT:FX suite sports a phase shifter, a compressor, a chorus/flanger, parametric EQ, tempo-synched echo, and a really fine-sounding reverb.
For good measure, you get a chromatic tuner, so you don’t have to unplug to tune up. Guitar Tracks also supports DirectX and VST plug-ins through Cakewalk’s VST adaptor.
Another cool feature is the built-in support for third-party control surfaces. Guitar players, being a hands-on bunch, will appreciate mixing with real faders and knobs instead of a keyboard and a mouse. A “learn” mode takes the pain out of setting up an optional control surface. You just click on an onscreen knob or fader, and then move the hardware knob or fader to automatically map the physical control to the onscreen action.
Guitar Tracks Pro offers a real plug-in-and-play benefit for those with some experience with analog and/or digital recording. The software’s friendly, analog-like interface is a no-brainer, and guitarists can’t miss with the inclusion of AmpliTube—all you need is your favorite guitar to start making tracks. So ditch that crusty cassette 4-track and join the 21st Century!
Cakewalk, (617) 423-9004; cakewalk.com