Rhythmic Gating Tutorial in Reaper

Rhythmic Gating Tutorial in Reaper

August 14, 2019 4 By Kailee Schamberger


Hey guys, today we’re going to talk about
creating a pulsing tremolo effect on a guitar track, similar to what we have in Green Day’s
Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Specifically, I want the tremolo to be locked
to the project tempo. First let’s play back our original track
so you can hear what we started with. I recorded this with my Les Paul through an
Avid Eleven Rack to create a simple distorted guitar track. Before we get started with the actual editing,
here’s the final product. Alright so to create this, all we need is
a program with MIDI and a side chain noise gate, so I’ll be using Reaper. The first thing we do is record the guitar
track. When you do this it has to be with the project
metronome so you can lock the effect to a MIDI track afterwards. Just make sure to set the tempo first, and
play along with the metronome as best as you can. After that, we need to create a MIDI track. For the MIDI track, I used a simple drum kit
virtual instrument and just had a snare hit every sixteenth note. This won’t be a part of the final song;
it will just act as a trigger to release the noise gate. What I want to do next is record the snare
hits as an audio track, just to make it a little easier to work with. Now I need to work with the signal routing
to get the snare track as the auxiliary track on the guitar. I open the signal routing for the guitar track
and set it to 4 tracks instead of two. Then I add a receive from the snare. For the settings, I set the receive to be
on the 3/4 stereo pair of the guitar track so it won’t be audible, and I set it to
pre fader. With it being pre fader, I can turn down the
fader on the original snare track so it’s not heard in the mix, but the signal will
still be going fully to the guitar track. I’ll use Reaper’s built in noise gate
plugin as the noise gate that will create the tremolo. The first thing I need to do is set the detector
to auxiliary input left and right. Now the noise gate detects the constant snare
hits to tell it when to open, instead of the guitar itself. This will allow the gate to release in time
with the project, and by doing this I’ll get the gate to open every sixteenth note
instead of every quarter note when I strum the chords. After the detector is set, we play the track
on loop and begin adjusting the noise gate to get our effect. The very first slider to adjust is the threshold. First bring it up to 0, then slowly lower
it back down until you start to hear the guitar come in. We want this low enough so it triggers with
every snare hit, but not so low that it starts to prolong the opening of the gate. It should still close abruptly after opening. Right now the gate tremolo sound is really
abrupt. It comes on basically instantaneously when
the snare hits and then closes rather quickly, without any fades or anything like that. To deal with how it comes on, I like to adjust
the attack. I find this works well at around 35 milliseconds
for this track. When you do this, it adds a 35 millisecond
fade in to the beginning of each gate opening. We start to get a smoother sound, but the
delay can make the effect sound a little out of sync. To fix this, I just add a little pre-opening,
usually at about half the attack time. Since we’re dealing with all digital audio,
the pre-opening can act as a look ahead and start to open the attack before the threshold
is reached. This pretty much takes care of that out of
sync issue. Next I just adjust the hold and release. The release sets the fade out time, and I’ll
set it to 80 milliseconds to get a good smooth fade out without it lasting too long. Then I adjust the hold until the entire length
of the gate opening is exactly how I want it to be. In this case, that’s around 40 milliseconds. In some cases, you might also want to adjust
the dry signal, that way the even when the gate is closed, there’s still some sound
coming in and the tremolo effect doesn’t drop the level all the way to 0. I don’t want to use that for this tutorial,
but I just thought I’d mention it’s an option. So after all this work, we have a tremolo
effect that will fit perfectly with our project tempo. This is a real advantage to do it this way,
since a lot of tremolo plugins will just have a speed control, but it doesn’t necessarily
lock to the project. This isn’t an issue for most use cases,
but to achieve the effect like this it’s absolutely essential that it locks. Thanks for checking out this video on how
to use a noise gate as a tremolo effect. If you found it helpful, don’t forget to
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