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.
Listen: Prince - 1999
How to get the sound
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.