Henry had a vision of Dark Fire being not just a guitar, but a complete package that would be useable like a standard guitar, and also be computer-friendly. To that end, he had approached Native Instruments about bundling Guitar Rig 3 (the full version, not a “lite” version) with the guitar so that guitarists would have even more tonal options.
If you haven’t worked with Guitar Rig 3, it’s an amazing piece of amp/effects simulation software that has been continuously updated and improved since its introduction several years ago. It has a ton of amp models and effects, but also, has some really cool tricks up its sleeve – like built-in digital recorders so you can record what you’re doing, or play back material through the effects. That’s great for when you want to tweak a guitar sound: Just record your riff, loop it, and play it back while you tweak the controls.
Guitar Rig 3 also has very cool modulation options, like step sequencing that provides AdrenaLinn-type sequenced effects, and nifty routing tools – you can split the guitar into parallel branches, as well as split based on frequency, like putting delays on only the highs. The idea of combining Guitar Rig 3 with Dark Fire made a lot of sense, to say the least. As someone who’s been using Guitar Rig since it was in beta, I probably had more expertise with the software than anyone else at Gibson, so one of my tasks would be to design Dark Fire-specific presets that take full advantage of what Guitar Rig has to offer. This isn’t as easy as it sounds: There have to be separate presets for magnetic pickups only, piezo only, a blend of the two, and presets optimized for the individual string outputs. That’s a lot, and I needed to wrap my head around not just creating the presets, but making them sound great out of the box – no tweaking necessary – and organizing them in a way that made sense.
But Guitar Rig isn’t just for stand-alone applications; it’s a plug-in for a host. And I hadn’t heard anything about a host … yet …