A few months ago, we had the pleasure of reviewing Ample Sound's amazing AGL guitar VI. We were impressed by the vast feature set and the quality of the AGL, a VI model of the Alhambra Luthier classical guitar. The Ample Metal Eclipse II (AME II) models the ESP Eclipse I and brings all of the same high quality features and sound to those looking for a great electric guitar plugin. (To clear up any confusion, the "II" in the name refers to the version of the Ample sound engine.)
Scratching and sliding, hammer-on and pull-off, pick scrapes and more; they are all deliciously modeled in AME II.
You can use AME II in any DAW that supports AU, VST, AAX or RTAS. (Ample Sound also includes a stand-alone version.) Once you've added AME II to your DAW of choice and activate it, you are presented with the screen shown above. This is where you can adjust some of the basic features of AME II such as doubling, sound gain for release sounds, FX, and so forth, and much more. You also have a virtual keyboard that can be played by clicking on keys. (You can also click or strum on the virtual guitar strings.) The virtual keyboard here isn't just for looks. You'll notice along the bottom that there are colored bars underneath most of the keys. These bars indicate control keys for sound effects and techniques. Scratching and sliding, hammer-on and pull-off, pick scrapes and more; they are all deliciously modeled in AME II.
Click on Strummer at the top of the screen and you're treated to Ample Sound's amazing Strummer editor. You can design your own strum patterns, load up a preset (there are a TON of them included with AME II), or tweak a preset to get just what you want. Dial in a little humanization (you can control it in both timing and in velocity) and you can get a groove going that is almost indistinguishable from a real guitar player.
Editing options abound in the Strummer. You can adjust up to 24 different chords via 2 banks of 12 chords each. You can alter the chord root and the type of chord for each, as well as the chord's position. (That's a total of 540 different variations!) You can even transpose the entire bank with a single button click. If you're not a guitar player and aren't sure of a chord, switch to Detect mode, play a chord, and AME II will tell you what it is. Once you have your chord banks configured, there's no worry about losing all of your hard work because AME II allows you to save your chord banks so that you can reload them later on.
Click on Tab and you can load and play back a guitar tablature in GP3, GP4, GP5, or GPX format. AME II supports all of the articulations you might find within a typical tablature including strum, harmonics, trills, bends, slides, palm mutings, and so on. Once you've loaded your tab, dial in a little humanization and click Play to enjoy. You can then record the tab to an audio track or bus it to a MIDI channel. Cool stuff.
Click on FX and you're treated to an array of pedals for adding in some of your favorite effects. You can choose from a compressor, an overdrive pedal, a 5-band EQ, chorus, phaser, delay, and reverb. Rounding out the effects is a wah-wah pedal. While it's nice to have these effects available within AME II, I still prefer to use the effects within my DAW. However, if you just need to dial in a little reverb or chorus, you might find AME II's effects to be suitable. Either way, it's nice to have the choice.
Rounding out AME II is the ability to edit the samples used and the ability to adjust numerous settings, including loading up some presets that come with AME II. You can even flip a switch to have AME II output MIDI in order to make it super easy to record to MIDI tracks in your DAW.
Overall, we were extremely impressed with AME II. It follows a strong tradition of quality instruments from Ample Sound, and it incorporates all of the features we look for in a quality VI. If you're looking to add some electric guitar to your mix without bringing in a real guitar player, look no further than AME II.