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Setting Up Guitar Rig in Cubase

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This post is part of a series called Producing Guitar: From Recording to the Finished Product.
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Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig is a well-known plugin for amp emulation, modeling and effects, and has tons of presets. If you find yourself without a distortion pedal or processor for your guitar, just fire up Guitar Rig. In this tutorial I'll show you how.

Setting Up As An Insert

Let’s assume you're using Guitar Rig for playing live, and you need to set up the guitar for distortion and effects. You can use Cubase as the input and output for the guitars, and your laptop as an effects pedal or processor.

Before you start Guitar Rig, you need to set up the tracks for the input:

  • First, add an audio track onto the project, and go to the inserts in the track's inspector.
  • Inserts are processed in the order they appear in the list. So if you have an EQ plugin on the top, then a compressor, the input will be first equalized and then compressed.
  • If you there's noise coming from the guitar, insert a noise gate onto the track. Adjust the settings so you reduce the amount of unwanted noise. This sends a cleaner input to Guitar Rig, giving you a cleaner output.
  • Add any other plugins you need before the input goes to Guitar Rig. You can add up to eight insert effects, even though the last two slots are for post-EQ and post-fader.

Change the order of the plugins by dragging the number beside the placeholder, and moving it to the required area. Now select Guitar Rig from the drop-down list and load it up.

Setting Up As A Send

When would you set up Guitar Rig as a send rather than an insert? When many of your tracks use the same settings. It’s preferable to use sends or a group effects channel in this case, otherwise the performance of the project will be affected, and you'll use more of your CPU.

An insert can designate a maximum of eight effects, while sends can link to eight FX Channels which can contain many more effects. So by using a send as an FX Channel, you can set up many tracks to the same effect without affecting the CPU.

  • Add an FX Channel from the Project > Add Track menu. Select the Guitar Rig plugin from the effects drop-down list. Here, you can also change the audio output configuration if needed.
  • Once you've added the FX Channel, it will appear as a track in the FX Channels folder. You can change the name of the FX Channel by double-clicking on the track.
  • The FX Channel track will already have the Guitar Rig plugin on it. You can add more plugins or set up sends if you need, but for the sake of simplicity, we're not going to add any more effects.
  • Now comes the fun part—sending the output from the audio track to the FX Channel. Select the audio track, go to the Sends option in the inspector, select the newly added FX Channel as a bus, and switch it on.

Here you can adjust the amount of effect that you need by adjusting Send level. Adjust it to your liking, and start experimenting.

The Guitar Rig Interface

The Guitar Rig Interface is simple but powerful. You can select the presets that you want, or manually add each element to build up to your required sound.

  • On the upper-left side, you can see the preset attributes, which help you to select the presets according to different styles, genre, effects or products. This is similar to the Cubase's MediaBay browser, which I have explained in a previous tutorial.
  • On the bottom-left, you can select the presets, which are filtered by the preset attributes. Here you can give stars to your favorite presets, making selection easier.
  • At the bottom you'll find information about the author of the selected preset, and a button to save the changes you make to the presets. You can also manually add different components, such as amplifiers and effects, from the Components option in the browser.
  • At the top-right, you can set the input gain, input channels, noise gate, output levels and the quick button for the Rig Kontrol. Below these options lies the heart and soul of Guitar Rig. All the effects, cabinets, mic settings and other goodies can be found there.

Select a preset to see the number of cabinets or the effects and settings that are used for that preset. Almost all the settings of these components can be easily tweaked to suit your needs. You can add different components to the rack by double-clicking on them, or by dragging and dropping them onto the rack.


Here you can also add the post- or pre-tape decks, which allow you to record your guitar directly into Guitar Rig. The settings for the tuner and metronome are also here, as well as the ability to adjust he visibility of the master volume and master effects.

You also have the option to remove all the items from the rack, or expand and collapse the settings of the components in the rack. Experiment with different settings, and you'll be amazed by the capacity of Guitar Rig.


Guitar Rig is a really useful plugin that a guitarist must have in his backpack. It will save you time on setting up your physical FX pedals and cabinets. You just have to open Guitar Rig, load your favorite presets, and start rocking out on your guitar.

You'll be saved from a lot of trouble and tension when setting up your guitars for a session or a live show. And you can tweak all the settings live by using the Rig Kontrol hardware.

How do you feel about Guitar Rig? Do you think it's easier than using physical modelers and effects? Let us know in the comments.

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