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When Prince’s first major-label album For You was released in 1978, it was clear, despite the slightly underwhelming sales, that a serious musical talent had arrived on the scene. He wrote, produced and played almost everything on the record. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of the double-album 1999 in 1982 that Prince became a truly international mainstream artist.
The title track features most of the signature sounds and instruments that defined Prince productions during this important part of his career: LinnDrum, Oberheim synths, a string machine and tight funk bass and guitar. In fact, the combination of the ‘American-sounding’ Oberheim OB-8 and lustrous string machine is perhaps THE signature Prince keyboard sound of this era.
Our first port of call when trying to recreate the main keyboard riff sound from 1999 was to use the trusty OP-X Pro VSTi (from SonicProjects) doubled with G-Force’s Virtual String Machine. This did give a fantastic sounding result, but we figured there must be a cheaper way to achieve the same thing.
Enter Falkelab Stringer, a simple but effective freeware string machine plug-in. We doubled-up two instances of the plug-in using different sample sets, but playing the same notes. The addition of some Cubase Phaser on one added just the right amount of movement.