Guitar Rig 3


Browser causes four suboptions to appear: Sounds, Attributes, Search and Results. Presets in Guitar Rig 3 are classified by Category and then by Bank. The available Categories shipping with Guitar Rig 3 are: Guitar Amps, Bass Amps, Artist Sounds, Signature Sounds, Styles, FX, Live and My sounds. Each has its own list of banks and each bank can have up to 128 sound presets.

Attributes presents information about the selected preset, as well as Style, Tone and Instrument tags that help the user quickly find presets.

Search allows the user to search for presets by name, author, category, date of modification, and any of the style, tone or instrument tags. The results option displays the search results for the last search. The search is faster than that found in GR2, but it's still a bit clumsy in terms of keystrokes (e.g. pressing the 'Return' key doesn't start the search).


The Components button turns the left pane into a graphical list of all the components (classified by their type: amplifiers, distortion units, modulation units, EQ, volume control units, reverb units, the loop machine, chain splitter and crossover mixer tools and the modifier units introduced in GR2). Below the list there is a small screenshot of the selected component along with a short description.

Finally the Options button selects the controller setup and preferences pane. While Guitar Rig 3 is improved compared to its predecessor with regards to usability, Preferences are still split between the ones found in the Options pane and those found under the 'Guitar Rig 3' application menu. It would have been much better if all preferences for the application were concentrated in one place, not two.

Live View

Guitar Rig 3 Live View

With some high profile musicians already open minded enough to use Guitar Rig at gigs NI seems intent on making the application more friendly to those using it on stage. The 'Live View' found on the toolbar provides just that: a user interface that is clean, simple and enlarged, suitable for use by someone on a dark stage. The interface includes a simplified preset list of the current bank, a tuner, metronome or loop machine (selectable) and a view of the controller where the user can also configure each of the switches and pedal.


Guitar Rig 3 is making efficient use of the available hardware. This much is obvious by the relatively low CPU usage even on slower machines even with complex sonic chains. A three year old Powerbook at the normal quality setting can pretty much handle everything you can throw at it, with the exceptions of a couple of presets that required considerably more processing power and caused jittery output. Anyone with any Intel Mac or recent Windows PC should be ok even at High Quality and no matter what you throw at it. If you don't have a NI foot controller, you should get yourself a high quality external (Firewire or USB2.0) audio interface with proper instrument inputs for guitars. Don't try using Guitar Rig with your old Sound Blaster Live! or equivalent, unless you know what you're doing and have the proper low-latency drivers, a DI box etc. In our tests we used GR3 with some external USB interfaces by M-Audio and the Rig Kontrol 1 and 2 and had no problems with latency or audio quality.

Audio Quality and Presets

The audio quality in Guitar Rig 3 is marginally improved from GR2 and is --- in many cases --- indistinguishable from the original amps and effects. The overhauled interface, and especially the completely revamped preset list are responsible for the perception that this version is superior to the one before it: Guitar Rig 2 suffered from relatively mediocre presets and its intuitive, yet complex interface meant that it could take hours before a user could truly take advantage of its features. Guitar Rig 3 offers some spectacularly improved factory presets that mimic well known styles, artists and signature sounds.

Concluding remarks

Overall, Guitar Rig 3 is an evolutionary step forward compared to the previous version. Its highlights are the new user interface that includes a Live View for those using the application on stage, the four new amps that enhance its tonal range filling most of the gaps in previous versions and some interesting new effects that together present a very rich and powerful tonal palette. If Guitar Rig 1 was a revolutionary product and 2 a worthy successor with numerous interesting features and improved quality, Guitar Rig 3 presents an offering that, while not radically different from its predecessor offers a much more mature and polished experience for the guitarist. For those already owning Guitar Rig 2, I would recommend getting the software only upgrade --- the Rig Kontrol 2 is still pretty decent for most of us and the price is pretty low. Those with Guitar Rig 1 would probably benefit from the full ('Kontrol') version, but could use any MIDI controller or the Rig Kontrol 1. For everyone else, Guitar Rig 3 is a very highly recommended product. Unless you've got tons of vintage, high-end gear and a place to use it, GR3 is the best thing out there for guitarists and a truly liberating tool that successfully replaces practically everything you need to make music. Except your guitar, that is.

This is an independent review by The author is not affiliated with Native Instruments or any other company promoting NI products.

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11 Responses to “Guitar Rig 3”

  1. elGrizzly says:

    I’m thinking of getting a decent rig really soon. I’m still hesitating between getting Guitar Rig 3 or getting Line 6’s Pod X3 Live…
    What do you think about the Pod?


  2. cosmix says:

    I haven’t used the Pod (and I’m talking about the original and V.2) since the early 2000s. As such I cannot really provide a good comparison between Guitar Rig and the Pod X3. If you asked me about Pod 2.0, my answer would be that Guitar Rig blows the Pod away, both in terms of flexibility and sound quality.

    One of the main good points of the original Pod (and V.2) was the quality of some of the high-gain sounds. This, coincidentally was also one of the gripes people had with Guitar Rig 1 and, to a lesser extent 2. This was probably due to the different goals of the two companies.

    Some people thought the Guitar Rig sounds weren’t heavy enough and others thought that while heavy, the sounds were not as accurate as they’d like. Guitar Rig 3 (and especially the free 3.1 upgrade that came out in early 2008) has completelyu resolved this and I think you’d probably need to shell out many thousands of Euros (or Dollars or whathaveyou) to get something even close to what GR3 offers; overall I find the sound of Guitar Rig 3.1 superior to every other modelling software I’ve seen, including for high-gain presets. Having said that I’m not sure how much better to the Pod 2.0 the X3 model is.

    The fact that Guitar Rig involves a software component probably makes live performance a bit more awkward (you have to carry a laptop) than the Pod, but it also makes experimenting and preset creation much more fun as you get a visual representation of the amplifiers, pedals and other effect units, instead of a small dot-matrix LCD display and some clumsy controls (if I remember something from the Pod is its horrible controls). Finally, if you’re concerned about playing live, the Kontrol Rig (pedalboards) of Guitar Rig 2 and 3 is a solid piece of hardware, with excellent audio quality and ready for live performances.

    I would recommend the Guitar Rig, not only because I’ve had a great experience with it, but because — for me — it realises the dream of every electric guitarist: (almost) total freedom in sound expression and a very intuitive way to get there.

  3. Jason Burns says:

    I have the Pod, an XT Pro and a GuitarPort and have the POD Farm software/plugin. I am looking at getting Guitar Rig 3 because POD Farm is so unstable. I am running it on a Mac Pro Dual Quad with 6GB of Ram and in standalone mode it locks up all the time, in plugin mode sometimes it gets made and just refuses to have any effect on the track. It defaults to a Jazz Clean amp and nothing you do will get your sounds back.

  4. Dustin Cobb says:

    I heard the Pod X3 doesn’t run efficiently on Windows Vista 32 bit (which means I am out of luck). I read further on their forum that there were complaints on the sound quality and the lack of sound coming from the PC with the pod hooked up. I am considering purchasing the guitar rig 3, but I am nervous as to whether or not it will work properly with my PC. I have a Dell Inspiron 1508 with Windows Vista 32 bit. I don’t want to purchase something that will not work with my PC. I am wanting to know do you have any suggestions as to if I could research further on the matter?

  5. cosmix says:

    @Dustin: I have seen GR3 run great on XP and Vista 32bit on relatively old hardware (check the system requirements for GR3 on the official product page), but then again I don’t use Windows myself so my experience with GR3 on that platform is limited.

  6. dartaniun! says:

    hey cosmix thanks for all the info! i am considering purchasing GR3. i have used Amplitube 1 in the past but could not find a heavy metal tone that sounded good. (it sounded very digital to me) i was wondering if GR3 offers a heavy tone that sounds more realistic?

  7. fragle598 says:

    Hi, I really need some help. I want to use and old ART x-12 to control my guitar rig 3 software but I don’t know how to set it up. Can anyone explain how to do this? It would be deeply appreciated.

  8. cosmix says:

    @fragle598: I’m not familiar with the ART x-12, but there’s a lot on controlling GR with MIDI online; try googling for it and also check the NI forum.

  9. TMcneil says:

    so ill be able to use my Line 6 FBV Shortboard MKII Controller Pedal with it?

  10. cosmix says:

    @TMcneil: Searching online for what you asked could’ve answered your question way faster than posting this comment. Short answer: Yeah, it seems so.


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