Many times in our Discord happens that someone is looking for a virtual instrument, and doesn’t want to break the bank. Therefore we thought of collecting all this useful resources into a series of articles everyone can always access to, starting by the most requested one: strings. Of course these are not going to be the list of all the existing virtual instruments on the internet, but it is a good place to start looking.
We are going to divide the instruments on our list into two categories: one is the category of absolutely free instruments, the other is for instruments that are free if you already own Native Instrument’s Kontakt.
So let’s begin!
Virtual Playing Orchestra by Paul Battersby
Virtual Playing Orchestra is a free collection of orchestral instruments made putting together all the best free orchestral samples. The library is in .sfz format, so it runs on Sforzando (also free) and offers all sort of articulations and dynamics controls (not on all the patches, but on all those for which matter).
LABS Strings by Spitfire
Spitfire LABS offer two different string patches, all for free:
- Strings: a 14-member ensemble with three articulations (Short, Ensemble and Long). This is not a huge bombastic trailer library, but rather the dry, close micing provides an intimate and warm character;
- Frozen Strings: “six strings players, recorded dry on a cold day in January 2015”, and as such these sustained strings are cold and perfect for soundscapes.
Both this instruments run through the LABS player (free), and come with built-in reverb and expression controls.
Our friend Philip Aldous gave it a ride for us:
VSCO2 Community Edition by Versilian Studios
VSCO 2 Community Edition (CE) is an open-source, open-ended subset of the main VSCO 2 library. These samples have been widely used and you can find them in multiple formats, such as VSTi/AUi, NKI, sfz, RMI and more.
SCC Expressive Strings by S. Christian Collins
SCC Expressive Strings a great string ensemble library including Legato, Staccato, Legato/Tremolo crossfade and Pizzicato articulations controlled by keyswitches, as well as expression controls. Not much I can say about it could be clearer than S. Christian Collins’s video:
Let us now dive into the Kontakt realm.
PocketBlakus by Blakus (Blake Robinson)
If you are looking for a warm and beautifully expressive cello, your best bet is going to be PocketBlakus. It features a sustain patch and a spiccato one (with 7 Round Robins nonetheless!). Plenty can be said about this instrument, but I’ll let a song speak for it:
The Stroh Violin by Impact Soundworks
Impact Soundworks doesn’t really need our advertisement, but it would be criminal to exclude the Stroh Violin from this list. The Stroh violin is a self-amplified violin that folks at ISW have sampled in three articulations (pizzicato, spiccato, legato). This won’t be the instrument to play a warm, mellow solo in a full orchestra (lying, it probably will), but its dry and lively character can be amazing in a small ensemble, in a folk setting or even in experimental/electronic music.
Sketching Chamber Orchestra
Sketching Chamber Orchestra is a collection of Kontakt instruments built by some big names in the Kontakt Scripting community using the samples from VSCO2. If you own Kontakt and nothing else, this will get you started, and bring you very far.
Palette Primary Colors by Red Room Audio
Last on this list, Palette – Primary Colors is the free version of the bigger Palette Orchestral Series. It features strings, woodwinds, and brass ensembles with a limited set of articulations, 3 dynamic layers and up to 7 round robins for a total of 1.3GB of samples. Even though this does not offer individual sections, this is a gorgeous tool, and a free one. So run grab it!
That’s it for strings now, see you soon with more cool freebies!