The Desperados III soundtrack is dulcimer meets hurdy-gurdy meets electric guitar meets modular synth. Based out of his studio in Munich, audio director and composer Filippo Beck Peccoz, used S-Gear exclusively for electric guitar sounds.


A passion for music and gaming

Of Italian descent, but born in Germany, Filippo’s love for music came later than his love for video games. “Being the youngest of three children, there were computers and consoles in the house from the day I was born. Playing games with my siblings and cousins has always been such a social experience.”
“I kept humming the melodies from video game music, or I would play them by ear on the piano,” Filippo says of his early and total commitment to gaming. His connection to technology also developed at an early age, he recalls experimenting with a portable tape recorder, “I remember being truly amazed by the fact that I could input something onto the cassette, for me this was such an epiphany”.
Filippo Beck Peccoz Filippo didn’t start playing guitar until age 14, but it soon struck him that he could create music for video games.

Berklee College of Music

“I lived in Boston for four years. It was an amazing experience. I studied film scoring because it was the closest thing to video game music, but I always wanted to go into game scoring. I was really focused on the game industry.
“The college was open and the studios (where you could record) were open all day and all night, I think they had a two-hour cleaning pause. It was such a rush to be there, living in music 24-7. Wherever you went you had music around you. Such different genres of music too, you were always involved in something musical and I still carry that energy in me.”
“As students we founded a video game music club. It grew in members and interest was pretty high particularly amongst first semester students who really wanted to do this job. In the last semester I was there, Berklee hired a professor who made a game audio curriculum, so I was able to experience the transition from Berklee being a college without any game audio curriculum to a college which offered a major in video game scoring. For me as a European, and as an Italian, it was a big boost in self-confidence to see that students could propose new things and make them happen.”

Hat-tips to a golden era

Since Berklee, Filippo has written the music for dozens of video games, most recently Desperados III.
Filippo explains how the challenge with Desperados was to do something new, yet at the same time honour the tradition of westerns. “We wanted to do something different, but at the same time we were craving for certain hat-tips to the golden age of music in westerns. We did a lot of soul searching: How much did we want to play with the western genre? People want certain sounds in a western, even if they are a cliché.”
For the soundtrack, they combined classic 1970s spaghetti western sounds with subtle synthesizer, hurdy-gurdy, a kicking bass drum, and dulcimer. Filippo played all guitars, harmonica, and hurdy-gurdy, but brought in fiddle-, trumpet-, and woodwind players. “Add my cousin on piano, and I had a little band around me. Even if it isn’t a full orchestra, just bringing in these soloists gives such a boost to the quality of music. It shifts your perspective and gives you ideas on how to approach things differently.”
Desperados employs a big range of guitar sounds from the traditional to the modern. “All of the electric guitars recorded in the over two-hour long soundtrack come from S-Gear,” says Filippo. “It’s an amazing sounding plug-in, and it’s focused on what’s important.” Filippo’s priority is having the feel of a real amp. “S-Gear just nails that feeling of playing through an amp. There must be some kind of magic involved - it just works.”

There’s lots of tremolo and layering of sounds. Can you describe your signal chain?

Actually we used Soundtoys Tremolator quite heavily, so usually the chain is S-Gear plus (one or more!) Tremolator. I also used two different preamps which really helped with the original guitar signal, the Neve 1073 and the Universal Audio 610.
I use MOTU Audio Interfaces with ethernet connectivity between rooms. I have one room where I can record the hurdy-gurdy and all these things and one room where I do more of the tracking work. I have two MOTU 624s and one 16A connected by ethernet and it works really well.

What do you think the Neve and Universal Audio pre-amps give you for the guitar?

Not speaking in technical terms, but I felt like I was feeding more detailed signals to S-Gear, and S-Gear is able to make something out of that. S-Gear was able to bring out the character of the instrument more.

Which DAW do you use?

I use Ableton Live. In some ways it is very helpful and useful for the game composer. You can resample very quickly, on a fresh track or through one of the stock samplers, and alter the effect signal chain in a very visually pleasing and intuitive way. I felt it brought a lot of ideas to life that I’d had in my head for a long time. With this tool I wasn’t constrained by a more rigid structure that some DAWs have.

To what degree do you record with the final guitar sound versus tweaking the sound post recording?

I’m always fascinated by the way some people record dry guitar tracks then tweak them until they get the sound they want. In 99 percent of cases I want to play with the sound that appears on the song in the end.