Brass and Strings in 2024

Hello and a Happy New Year :tada:

I’m currently updating and reworking my main gig-file for my classic rock cover project and preparing a gig-file for a side project towards more funk, R&B and soul music.

Therefore I’m wondering what us keyboard players use for brass and string sections nowadays :thinking:
I’m still using a lot of sounds out of the Triton/Triton extreme VST which I already transferred out of my good old TritonPro classic. However I’m looking for something more modern, warm and articulating.

For strings I absolutely like the Kurzweil sounds out of my Forte SE.
I made myself a Christmas present and purchased the NI Komplete Standard library I’m still listening through

However I feel not really satisfied so far, and there’s still so much to listen to.

I also made some first tries with the decent sampler, now moving forward to kontakt, but that’s a long journey, and I’m currently more interested in making music instead of working on the perfect sound :innocent:

What are you using for typical lightweight section strings or unison brass sections in band context for funk, R&B, soul?

I would prefer a really lightweight and working solution with some basic articulations

Any recommendations welcome!

For Brass I am using Session Horns and for Pop Brass
the standard trumpet section (with harmony set to octave) layered with trombone section (with harmony set to octave) and sometime add Synth Brass to it.

And Old Bruce Sweden Trick.

For Strings I am often using Omnisphere.

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Like @pianopaul, I’m using NI Session Horns Pro for brass and sometimes change the instruments in the section to make it brighter (more trumpet) or more subtle (spread of sax, trombone and trumpet). If I need something really bright and cutting for pop, I’ll sometimes layer it with a standard Synth Brass patch from a GForce Oddity or Arturia MiniFreak plugin (though an capable analog synth VST will do the job).

For strings I use a few options, sometimes the legato strings from Spitfire BBC SO Core, but if they are going to be more buried in the live mix, I sometimes just use a general synth strings patch from NI MassiveX or even the Strings in StudioLogic’s free Numa Player VST (layering its Piano and Strings is very effective for those piano and string generic patches to warm up an ensemble mix).

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Another vote for Session Horns (recently upgraded to “Pro”). I have a VG Baritone Sax that I sometimes use too.

For string ensembles, I sort of think “realistic” strings do not work that well in most cases. The “rosin” sound, etc, is usually not what you want in pop or rock. To my ear, you are usually going for a very “produced” (70’s ?) sound that has a bit a “synthy-ness” to it. Don’t tell anyone, but I often still just grab my Synth Strings patch in my Casio CTK-7200. If I am staying within GP, I use something similar.

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I’m working on the same thing, I’m sure a lot of us are. I find that many of the libraries I get ads for seem to be more oriented towards production, where you might want to micro-program everything to exacting, hyper-realistic standards, rather than for live/gigging work where I think many of us hope to find simple, versatile, immediately usable and re-usable patches like we’re used to getting from our workstation keyboards - maybe just a thick, “fast”-attack strings sound, a slower-attack one and a good “pizz” patch. Like others in the thread, I am thinking of sampling my most-used strings patch from my Kronos for now, which would be a great exercise in learning how to use the auto-sampling tool.

Yeah, especially for sounds in band context you maybe should have a closer look/ear at Arturia’s “Solina” synth, which aims for the typical 70s String sounds:

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Thanks for all the feedback!

That proves that I’m still on the right track:


  • the good old Bruce Swedien trick ist still working, more or less mandatory and in use these days like in any workstation the last 30 yrs…
  • meanwhile I upgraded from Session Horns to Session Horns Pro due to more flexibility and solo instruments

I’m currently working on a combination of Session Horns Pro, Smart Voice Split and the Ripchord Plugin in combination with some single instruments and layerings out of the Triton extreme for my live demands
Looks very promising to me so far! Additional articulations will then be the next step.


I need to spend much more time in balancing velocity and find the right laying to get something similar than my Kurzweil Piano + String layers.

Same as on the Brass - here tweaking from double bass, celli to violins adding some synth strings or pads as before.

There are goos choices between The Korg collection, Kontakt libraries and the Numa strings. But time…

@schamass I also use the Arturia Solina strings, but in a different context - I’m more after some good section strings for layering.


If you find a need for doing smart harmonies on solo horn/string lines, I highly recommend Obelisk by Frozen Plain. Obelisk – FrozenPlain

I’m using it for songs such as Jump In The Line - Harry Belafonte, Daydream Believer - The Monkees and Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash for the horn section parts


I forgot that I had Obelisk v1.1.6. I picked up the minor update to v1.1.7 while reminding myself of what Obelisk does. Here’s a quick video reminder. Each update .ZIP file includes an updated manual. The manual available for download is still for v1.1.2.

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Obelisk looks quite interesting! I’ll check out the demo! Thanks for the tip!

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One quick tip with Obelisk, is to make sure you aren’t sending notes in the keyswitch range. I had a few minutes of panic before I realized what was going on.