A wide variety of synth pad sounds has been around for quite a long time – since the birth of analog synths.  They usually imitate bowed or blown orchestral instruments and are evident in both the background and forefront of the majority of today’s electronic productions around the globe.

Despite the popularity and versatility of these sounds, they tend to sound a bit boring when untreated. However, creatively using modern effects can morph them into totally new, exciting, and unique assets. In this tutorial, we will treat our synth pad with effects from rhythmic gating to grain delay. Let’s get started!




Firstly, we will use a typical sawtooth-based synthetic waveform. You’ve probably heard it in genres like Trance, EDM, and Techno.

It sounds like this.


Simple Synth Pad

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As a matter of fact, one creative way in which we can process this is to use rhythmic gate effects. For our example, we decided to use Traktor Gate from Guitar Rig 5 by Native Instruments.

To load Traktor Gate, drag it from Guitar Rig’s components/special FX drop-down menu and drop it on the right side of the plug-in. Here you will see a few knobs controlling dry/wet, additional noise, shaping, and rate parameters. For our example, we will push the dry/wet all the way to the right (fully wet, essentially making the unit a serial processor). On the other hand, we’ll push the noise knob all the way to the left (no noise). Furthermore, we will deal with the shape and rate knobs more carefully.

The shape parameter affects the decay time of the gate effect. Additionally, the rate knob determines the note value to which the gating will sync (1/4 note, 1/8 note, 1/16 note…. etc).

Let’s hear how our pad sounds after setting the shape knob on, let’s say, 75% and the rate knob on 1/16.

Synth Pad – with Gate effects


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Modulate the rate knob using the Analog sequencer in Guitar Rig 5’s component/modifier drop-down menu. Place it in the rig below (after) the Gate effect and drag & drop the ASSIGN tab to the RATE knob. Now we have control over the Rate knob. Meaning, when we move the assigned sliders at the bottom of the analog sequencer, we will modify the value of the rate knob. Let’s hear how it sounds now.


Synth Pad – With modulated gating rate

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Grain delay is yet another creative effect within the Guitar Rig 5 plug-in we can use to alter our synth pad.

This effect, with its innovative granular approach, will allow you to refine the spacial aspects of your tones and build massive walls of echo-ing energy. Therefore, its interdependent controls are an invitation to experiment and will help you achieve truly unique effects.

In the process of setting the remaining parameters the way we like, we will automate the dry/wet knob to smooth out the changes we made. Afterward, we will also automate the space parameter, which determines the duration of the grains. Grains are the tiny multiplied and delayed snippets created by the effects unit that make up the original signal. If the grains are shortened (time-stretched) using the pitch control, they will be repeated until the duration selected for rate has elapsed. This allows the user to modify the pitch of grains without disrupting the rhythm.

We will also insert a Reverb effect at the end of the chain to counteract dryness.  Let’s hear it now.


Synth Pad – With Grain Delay and Reverb

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It is clear that the original sound has been significantly altered by automating of the space knob. Finally, this introduces a sort of speeding-up effect and enhances the sense of movement – much like an uplifter.