Propellerhead Record + Reason: Playing Guitar Through the Reason Synths (Part Two)

By Line6Piper

Line6Piper (aka Matt Piper) teaches you how to play your guitar through Reason’s Thor synthesizer. Matt is the in-house Propellerhead Product Specialist at Line 6, and the author of the acclaimed instructional guide, Reason 4 Ignite.

I suspect that for many people, the most sought-after bit of information in this latest video will be how to route the guitar signal through Thor. However, the item in the video I want to talk about here is the LFO (low frequency oscillator).

Early in the video, I instruct you to turn off Oscillator 1, and I state that there are no oscillators used in the patch. Shortly thereafter, I use the LFO! I should have said that there are no audio frequency oscillators used in the patch. (The audio signal from the guitar is used in place of Thor's oscillators.)

In a synthesizer, the audio frequency oscillators are audio signal generators that can produce sine waves, sawtooth waves, etc. Simply labeled "oscillator 1, 2…" on the synthesizer, they produce the basic tone that is later modified by filters, envelopes, etc., further on in the synth's signal chain.

The original, most basic meaning of the word "oscillate" is simply "to swing back and forth." A vibrating guitar string is a mechanical oscillator. The waveforms generated by audio frequency oscillators cycle fast enough that we can hear them, within the range of 20-20,000 Hz (cycles per second).

Low Frequency Oscillators "swing back and forth" much more slowly—often only a few times per second. This signal is not heard, but is used to control something else (such as filter frequency, pitch, output level, or stereo pan). The LFO becomes an extra hand that can turn knobs for you, basically alternating between two values. It can alternate with the smooth, gradual curve of a sine wave, with the sharp minimum / maximum of a square wave, or with the upward ramp and sharp drop of a sawtooth wave. If I route the signal of the LFO to the Frequency control on a filter, the LFO will turn that filter's cutoff frequency up and down by a degree determined by the "LFO to Filter Frequency Amount" setting, and at a speed determined by the LFO Rate setting. On a tremolo pedal or vibrato pedal, LFO Amount is simply labeled "depth," and LFO Rate will be labeled "rate" or "speed." In the video, LFO 1 is essentially used to turn the Formant Filter Gender knob back and forth, as well as to modulate (change/adjust/vary) the Formant Filter's "X" slider setting.

I've created a ready-to-load Combinator patch based on this tutorial, with several added features. To download it, please click the link below.

Download "Twin Thors Guitar" patch