The CARBON Chronicles, Pt. 1

by Peter Gorges

Friday, October 31 – Halloween – has been a big day for us. We launched our to-date most sophisticated and innovative virtual instrument – Virtual Guitarist Carbon.

In this series of little blogs I would like to provide some insight into how we decided to do it and how it evolved over time. I’ll share bits and pieces from the development history and provide in-depth tips and tricks along the way that will help you to get the most out of CARBON.

Some of you will already know our Virtual Guitarist series. So far, our goal was to give people solutions for creating the most popular guitar sounds they need in their music production, even if they have no access to a guitar, a guitarist, or time.

The idea for CARBON was born when the team started putting together a playlist of “what sounds would we love in a next Virtual Guitarist”. We wanted it to stick out, to be different, and to have an innovative edge that went beyond the usual pairing of a guitar, a few amps and performance styles.
The playlist we built was this one: CARBON inspirational playlist

Whatever CARBON is or does today, it started here. This set the goal.
Peter Gorges

We realized there is a growing demand for sounds – as someone put it really well – “covers that ground that sits between guitars and synths”. You can hear it in almost every Netflix series soundtrack, in action movies, in game soundtracks, electronic music, and of course in metal or pop/rock.

It’s that sound that doesn’t sound as traditional as a guitar, but not as “synthesized” as a synthesizer. If you like the work of Mick Gordon – whose approach was one of those that inspired us a lot – you know what I’m talking of. You’ll find him in that playlist.
And such a non-traditional, habit-breaking, risk-taking north pole is hard to keep in mind.
But we got help: Strong, passionate partisanship within the team.
With every decision – whether it was what aspects of the guitar to record, which gear to use for building the amp stacks, to the design aesthetics and the keyboard layout – there were always two factions:

  • Those who wanted to defend the flag of the pure and true djent/metal guitar with their lives
  • Those who exactly DIDN’T want to to that, but rather invent and design an innovative approach.

My firm conviction is that it was the productive friction between those two philosophies – and the way we were able to kind of not satisfy both of them but create something new that is not a compromise – that made CARBON not just a virtual sample library for sofa headbangers and also not a synthesizer machine-gunning 32ths bathed in distortion.

I’ll end this intro with a juxtaposition of the very first whiteboard sketch of the Carbon user interface and the actual Carbon UI. Hope you can see some improvement from top to bottom!
CARBON user interface scribble
Virtual Guitarist series, five user interfaces

In the next installment, we’ll take a glimpse through the keyhole of how we invented the “personality” of CARBON. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you could take a look at CARBON yourself – check out the videos and demos, and even download a fully functional 30-day trial of CARBON.
Or hit me up with questions and suggestions: petersinbox@ujam.com – looking forward to hearing from you!

Yours,
Peter


About Peter
Peter co-founded UJAM in 2009 with Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams. He’s been pioneering and inventing virtual instruments since 2000, first with Wizoo and Steinberg, later Digidesign and now UJAM.