If you've ever seen Rabea Massaad's gear demos, you already know he's a special player. A self-taught guitarist and producer who has applied his versatile talents as a musician on stages with FrogLeap Studios, Stormzy, Rob Chapman and his own instrumental project Toska. He's embraced modelling technology alongside good 'ol tube amps, so his choice as the latest signature artist for a Neural DSP Archetype guitar plugin pack makes sense. But blimey, they've really gone to town with this one!
The Archetype: Rabea plugin includes both the vintage and modern elements; Octaver, Fuzz, and Overdrive effects, alongside well as stereo Delay and Reverb effects to run with three distinct amp models – Clean, Rhythm, and Lead – and virtual speaker cabinets, microphone placements, and IRs. But Archetype: Rabea includes a first for Neural DSP: the Overlord, a subtractive dual-oscillator monosynth that can be triggered by the guitar.
This takes an already versatile digital rig to a whole new level of possibilities. “As a fan and user of synthesizers, I have always dreamt about being able to play a synth with my guitar," explains Francisco Cresp, Co-Founder/CPO at Neural DSP. "Before, you needed a guitar that was specially built for that purpose, a special pickup, or some other special hardware.
"For Archetype: Rabea, the challenge was to make a synth that works with any guitar," adds Francisco. "Your guitar signal becomes your ADSR, which triggers real oscillators. After that, your signal is a synthesizer with all the controls and flexibility one would expect from it. It’s transformative.”
For $139 you're getting stunning tones here. But Rabea wanted to the option to keep things simple too.
“While I wanted a plugin that was great for contemporary guitar sounds, I also wanted to be able to just plug in my Fender Strat and just chill and play the John Mayer-type stuff,” says Rabea.
The best of all worlds? Well just listen to that demo above!
“I can now get all my favourite amplifier sounds in one place,” adds Rabea. “And now, with the synthesizer capability, it opens up entirely new ways of working. It’s not an effect laid over the guitar sound, it’s the guitar being used to trigger a genuine synthesis, which is so cool. And I can feed it either pre or post plugin, so you can feed it back through all the amps and pedals and create these incredibly weird, awesome layers and textures. That for me is just insane. It's an incredible production tool.”
The reverb pedal in Archetype: Rabea is also new ground. It can freeze a sound but also offers parameters to control that frozen sound’s pitch and volume. “If you freeze a note or chord, it keeps playing in the background while still being processed by the reverb,” says Francisco. “It's then a pad you can play over. You can even transpose it to create chord progressions or a bass line for improvisation or soloing."
There's nine effects pedals in the pack with the stereo delay and fuzz also new designs for Neural too. In addition, the Transpose, Metronome, and Doubler tools, as well as a 4-band semi-parametric EQ, are all included too. "The delay is an analog delay emulation with cross-feed and icicles functions that give you all the dreamy delay sounds,” says Francisco
“Rabea is widely known as a metal player but he is so much more than that, and so is Archetype: Rabea,” says Neural DSP CEO Douglas Castro, who we recently interviewed. “It achieves the clean and blues sounds he likes as well as the heavy sounds. Archetype: Rabea covers a very wide gamut of tones and is possibly the most versatile plugin we’ve ever created. As a result, Archetype: Rabea is an inflective moment, for Neural DSP and the the industry: it gives guitarists access to a true synthesizer, something that’s been an evasive feat in the music industry for decades.”
Neural DSP Archetype: Rabea is out now. For more info visit Neural DSP (opens in new tab).