My explorations are going very well. I have to save eveything (set up, not audio files) just because I cannot remember how I got something working or how I did thing "A" while hearing thing "B" or that kind of thing.
I did buy the Virtual Instrument expansion pack. In a word: Wow.
OK, so many words. It comes with Strike (drum kit), Transfuser (audio sampling and beat management), Structure (Little of everything, and more), Velvet (electronic key boards and pianos) and Hybrid (a synth). Strike and Transfuser steal the show.
Strike is as impressive of a virtual drum kit as it is complicated. It sounds great and can be played and managed under a few different variety of settings. I'm not very good with it yet, but I've done a few good drum tracks even with my limited understanding of it.
Transfuser is a huge audio sampler and loop monster that does everything for you by default and whatever you want to do if you feel so inclined. Techno, hipity-hop, urban and world beats and instruments and all of tht jazz isn't everyone's bag, but it's sure fun as heck to mess with. I've got many hows invested into it just messing around.
Structure does everything. If you were a guitarist who was allowed one V.I. and needed some occasional drum, bass, pan-flute, synth, horns or whatever, this would be the one to keep. it's done everything I've asked so far and it's done it well.
I've done nothing in Velvet nor Hybrid yet. Too much to learn, forget, re-learn, re-forget, etc, etc.
I'm also trying to continue my panning and mixing efforts as well as trying to grasp what is happening in the Mastering process. All this while keeping up with the guitar and the new challenges I keep pushing myself into. Baby steps. Grown-up big walls. This whole panning stereo guitar tracks can get tricky. Well, that's an understatement. They are tricky.
As far as the rest of my digital project studio goes, I got a Resonator, I got my BBE Sonic Stomp hooked up to the 11R and I now have a Sans Amp Para Driver DI from Tech 21. It can handle bass and acoustic signals. It gave me the final piece of the using the 11R "live" in the office with my son and my friend on occasion.
After all of this, I need to be a really good boy for about 84 years. I went WAYYYYYY over budget. It's worth it so far. The theraputic value alone can't be assigned a price tag. It's very fair to say, though, that I'm probably going to have to nip all of this in the bud and not get anything in 2012 other than strings.
....and maybe a MIDI controller. Birthday 5 months away.