55+ Best Free VST Plugins in 2020 (With Download Links)
Are you tired of scouring the internet for the best free VST plugins for your rig? Finding some decent Virtual Studio Technology (VST) plugins can be a tricky beast especially when there are tons of lists to choose from.
But fret not for your dilemmas have come to an end! We dug deep into the Internet maze to handpick the best free VST plugins on the market right now. So, if you were looking for a solid list of free VST plugins to craft your sonic soundscape and take your music production endeavours to the next level, then stay posted because you are at the right place.
Our list of the 55 best free VST pluginsencompasses tons of categories, namely: best Guitar VSTs, best Synth VSTs, best VST plugins for vocals, bass VSTs best drum VSTs and a horde of slick effects – that one can download for FREE!
No matter what your preferred genre is, we have got your back. Simply download any of these VSTs and emulate rich classic sounds right inside your DAW without splurging a dime on expensive gear. Just load up any instrument rig – be it guitar, synth, drums or bass, dial in some sick tones and revel in the cosmic aural pleasure that ensues.
So, fellas are you ready to have a good long gander at our roundup of the best free VST plugins and craft your next banger of a tune instantly? Happy riffage!
55 BEST FREE VST PLUGINS IN 2020
GUITAR VSTs: Best Free VST Plugins for Guitar
1) Nick Crow 8505 Lead
A formidable VST amp for heavy metal fanboys and shred aficionados, Nick Crow 8505 lead has been in the game for a while now. It comes in handy for adding that powerful and jaw-dropping raw punch to your guitar tone and makes it sound more intense and “heavy”.
2) LePou Amp Suite
Now recreate the magic of legendary amps such as Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier and ENGL E645 thanks to LePou Amp Suite. If you are fond of ridiculously high gain, this solid amp emulator won’t let you down. It’s a must have for metallers and die-hard shredders looking to crank things up by several notches.
3) TSE 808
What would a list of the best free VST plugins for guitar be bereft of TSE 808? One of the most renowned overdrive plugins on the market, the TSE 808 is a must-have in your arsenal if you want to spruce up the lead tone in metal tunes. Moreover, since the TSE 808 also adds up as a realistic tube screamer plugin, you definitely cannot afford to miss out on this one!
4) Guitar Rig 5 Player
A robust pedalboard simulator, Guitar Rig 5 player is one of the best free VST plugins that comes packed with a Shoegazer’s dream effects: heavy reverb, delay, phaser, chorus, flanger, you name it. Not to mention, you can cut out unwanted “noise” from your final tone through a splendid noise gate which makes those high octane delay swooshes tolerable.
5) TSE X50
The legendary Peavey 5150+ guitar amp blossoms to life on this freeware emulation called TSE X50 which provides an incredible sound with rich gain that lends much needed firepower to your guitar tone. Speaking of firepower, your CPU might not take too kindly to it at times.
6) LeCab 2.0
A very versatile plugin with one of the finest guitar/bass cabinet impulse loaders in the business, LeCab 2.0 also offers over 6 impulse slots, phase, volume, pan, delay and latency controls for each slot.
7) Shred by AcmeBarGig
Symbolic of its name, Shred by AcmeBarGig comes with a rich collection of six guitar amp heads handy for reproducing your own custom FrankenAmp. All together, it is a dream come true for shredders, heavy metallers, rock n’ rollers, and all the fusion blues and jazz guitarists out there.
8) Plektron Guitar Amp 2
Guitar Amp 2 by Plektron is a fabulous guitar effects suite that comes with an inbuilt British amp, cabinet simulator and a thumping bass amp to cater to guitarists of all hues. What makes it one of the best free VST plugins is that it offers an all-around compact sound which can be laid over your guitar tracks without any tweaks.
9) Voxengo Tube Amp
Want a no-frills attached plugin with a simple interface? Look no further than Tube Amp by Voxengo which applies asymmetric tube triode overdrive to your guitar recordings and makes them sound mega in no time.
10) SimulAnalog Guitar Suite
Mashing the sounds of the iconic Boss SD1 and DS1 pedals, Guitar Suite by SimulAnalog comes to the fore as a surefire must-have in your rig. What’s more, it offers plenty of simulations of stomp boxes including classic Marshall JCM900 amps, virtual Fender Twin, the Ibanez Tube Screamer, and the Univox Univibe. Get on it.
11) The Anvil and NRR-1 by Ignite Amps
Seeking only clean sounding and ambient guitar tones? The Anvil is right on the dot when it comes to calling up clean and bright sounds. Likewise, NRR-1 provides optimal high gain texture to your tone on the side. All together, these two beauties by Ignite Amps are truly worth their weight in gold.
If you are on the lookout for just one guitar VST with massive sound-scaping potential and an easy-to-use interface, then FreeAmp3 fits the bill just right. With over 5 clean amps, 19 drive amps, 4 bass cabs, noise gate and easy switching options this one’s as lucrative as it gets.
SYNTH VSTs: Best Free VST Plugins
13) Audjoo Helix
Don’t be dissuaded by the official website which says that Helix’s download is for a limited period only. The truth is you can still download it all you want. With Helix at the helm, you can craft soaring synth melodies along with deep bass grooves into your final mix.
14)Dexed FM Plugin Synth
Eerily reminiscent of the legendary Yamaha DX7, Dexed pretty much sums up as an effective frequency modulation synth. The fact it’ sound engine was modelled close on the heels of the DX7 gives Dexed some of its characteristic traits.
15) Tytel Helm Synth
Helm synth is a nifty synth VST that offers a lot of customization to pro users who can tweak its source code to suit their whims. What’s more, it can be run from anywhere inside your DAW. Fair and square.
16) Acoustica Nightlife
One of the best free VST plugins for budding EDM, hip hop and trance producers, Acoustica Nightlife comes loaded with beat–synced arpeggiated patterns and bone-rattling basses. Not to mention, it also boasts plenty of evocative preset patches for those who don’t like to fiddle around.
17) Brain Control Tunefish 4
Tunefish 4 is a nifty free VST synth that can recreate everything ranging from warm leads, pads, bass, and all other tasty sounds that your mix demands.
An easy-to-use and dexterous synthesizer, Synister boasts a built-in virtual keyboard that can be used to create layer-after-layer of ethereal synth richness.
19) Digits 2
Want to recreate that famous 80’s vibe in no time? Make room for Digits 2, your companion for producing dirty bass, fat-warm-synth-pad sounds, screaming leads and all that tackle.
20) Muon Tau Bassline
Tau Bassline may be a small VST plugin but its sound is monstrous. After all, it was modelled after the Roland 303, so you can expect the same old 303 groove that we have come to cherish over the years.
21) Pecheneg Tremolo
Despite being a through-and-through tremolo effects synth only, the Pecheneg Tremolo is pivotal for creating rhythmic modulations in your sound.
22) Martinic Combo Model F
Martinic’s Combo Model F might be an oddity on our best free VST plugins list. It is a splendid organ synth that provides a gamut of nostalgic 70’s sounds that are all but absent in the contemporary pop music scene.
23) DC Bazz::Murda
Another solid synth VST for fans of booming basslines, layered DnB drums and custom Hip hop kicks, DC Bazz:Murda is a must have in your plugin arsenal especially if you also like heavy and distorted hardcore sounds.
24) Arminator by Krakli Software
This free little synth boasts a lush interface and is often regarded as a nifty CS 80 emulator that packs in a full stack of sound design options including 128 default patches that harken us back to the 80s.
25) OSL Chorus
The OSL chorus is an essential freeware based on the chorus effect module of Roland Juno 60 synthesizer that comes in handy for creating euphoric choruses. Also, it sounds equally lush on guitar, and bass.
Best Free VST Plugins for Vocals
26) Melda MAutoPitch
Cannot pull off a high note without using a bit of autotune that bares your vocal prowess? That’s where MAutoPitch comes in and makes your vocals sound perfectly natural in the final mix.
27) Acon Digital Multiply Chorus
If you want to add more range and texture to your vocals, especially fry screams and growls, for your metal project then Acon Digital’s Multiply Chorus provides the right kind of punch to make your vocals shine in the mix.
28) Klanghelm DC1A Compressor
When there’s plenty of layers of distorted guitars and other instruments in the mix, clever vocal compression becomes the key. With the DC1A character compressor by your side smooth levelling and heavy pumping of vocal layers becomes a breeze.
29) Voxengo OldSkoolVerb Auto-Tune
Prefer some good ol’ reverb in your vocals? Voxengo by OldSkoolVerb takes care of your preferences by creating the perfect sonic space for vocals in your mix.
30) Fine Cut Bodies La Petite Excite
The mixing console behooves a lot of precision when you are dabbling with high-range vocals. But, what’s better than the Exciter plugin La Petite Excite that adds extra depth and subtle harmonics to your vocal melodies so that they shine in their own right?
Best Free VST plugins for Drums
31) MT Power DrumKit 2
With a pre-programmed groove library and many top-notch snare sounds under its belt, the MT Power DrumKit 2 ensures that the snare cuts right through the mix and thus stakes its claim as the one of the best free VST plugins.
32) StudioLinked Drum Pro
Boasting a diverse collection of over 20 built in drum kits, 12 pads and eclectic global effects, Drum Pro is a weapon of mass beats production. Definitely one of the best free VST plugins you ought to have in your VST rig!
33) MX Project T. Rex 606
Modelled after the vintage Roland TR-606 drum machine of yore, The zvukfm.club 606 is a beast in its own right with some added bells and whistles.
34) Wavosaur DjinnDrum
Wavosaur stirs up the drum sounds ecosystem with its very own DjinnDrum plugin that can easily regurgitate the iconic sounds the Linn LM-1 drum machine is famous for.
35) Sean Pandy Drums Multi
This one is a surefire no brainer for all deathcore, extreme metal and heavy metal lovers. Without a doubt one of the best free VST plugins for fans of face-melting, whiplash inducing and foot stomping heavy drum sounds.
36) Sample Science Vintage Drum Elements
Craving for some vintage drum sounds of the 60s and 70s? Take the Vintage Drum Elements for a spin as it harkens us back to the classic rock era of droolworthy and warm analogue sounds produced by legendary drum machines.
37) Dub Turbo DrumTroop
Fans of fast paced beats and pounding drum kicks will definitely dig DrumTroop, which sounds massive by all means.
38) BeatSkillz BeatFactory Drums
The BeatFactory Drums plugin is pretty easy to tweak around, sounds mega and packs in solid drum sounds full of arena-esque stompers.
39)SM MegaReaper Drumkit
Thanks to an unholy amount of samples and the fact that its sampled from the 1960s Ludwig Oyster Blue Pearl Drum Kit, SM MegaReaper is one of the best free VST plugins on the market. Although its trademark “deepest sampled drum kit in the world” can only be used on Reaper, its 2GB worth of samples are compatible with other DAWs.
40)Real Drum Samples Line Of Legends
Boasting over 8 individual output channels, and around 47 high-quality samples with punch, release, & attack knobs, Line of Legends is in a league of its own and screams serious business.
Bassline Synths: Best Free VST Plugins
41) The Ample Bass P Lite II
So, you want a nice electric bass plug to boost your garage rock tune’s bass sound? Lo and behold, the Ample Bass P Lite II does what’s on the dot by laying down groovy basslines.
42) Steinberg Model E
A worthwhile 3 oscillator bass station, Steinberg Model E can spit out rich basslines by the minute. A must have bass scorcher in your rig.
An enticing interface that hooks you right in at first glance, the real USP of this FM synth lies in churning out eclectic lead sounds as well as some sick bass drops.
44) LinPlug Free Alpha 3
The inbuilt presets of Free Alpha 3 are suffice to induce hypnotic bass grooves. What’s more, this plugin works with all kinds of bass and its 2 oscillators can pack some serious punch in your mix.
45) The TAL Bassline
TAL Bassline does boosts your trap and hip hop mixes with some thick and nice sounding warm analog sounds.
Effects Plugins: Best Free VST Plugins
46) TAL Stereo Chorus-LX
A simple yet powerful tool for adding beautiful chorus effects, TAL’s stereo Chorus-LX is inspired by the Roland Juno-60 chorus. Gotta snag this one!
47) U-He Protoverb 1.0
Don’t miss out on Protoverb 1.0 if you want a distinct reverb sound that lets users generate random reverb settings in a jiffy by fiddling around a bit.
48) Valhalla Freq Echo
Freq Echo is one of the best free VST plugins you can get your hands on for adding phaser, chorus and flanger effects to your mix. Not to mention, it also doubles up as a swanky frequency shifter with analog echo emulation.
49) Softube Saturation Knob
Our list of best free VST plugins would be incomplete without mentioning an analogue emulation plugin, right? And what plug better epitomises it than Softube’s Saturation Knob? Snag this plug and stay happy!
50) TDR Nova EQ
Add more flair to your equalizer tricks with one of the best free VST plugins in the game, the TDR Nova, which is a four-band dynamic Equalizer (EQ).
51) ToneBoosters TB Reelbus Tape Emulator
You can simulate everything that forms the core of a tape machine with the TB ReelBus- from warm saturation, wow and flutter to tape hiss.
52) Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566 Tube Preamp
Wanna boost the warmth of your track? The SGA1566 chimes in as a solid saturation compressor that adds richness to your final mix with its tube overdrive.
53) TDR Slick EQ
A true workhorse for fiddling with EQ settings in your final mix, this nifty three-band EQ very easy to use and reckons an amazing sound.
54) Tritik Krush Bit Crusher
A stylish bit crusher, Krush is a nifty plug that can quickly forge together digital bit reduction effects in real time.
55) CableGuys PanCake 2
Rounding off our lineup of the best free VST plugins is PanCake2, a flexible panning effect that can spruce up your panning game. What’s more, it lets you manually draw the curves of your panning modulation.
And…that’s a wrap fellas! Did you like our list of the best free VST plugins? Did we miss out on any great VSTs that you know of? Sound off in the comments.
SEE ALSO: Best Free Autotune VST Plugins
SEE ALSO: Best Free Piano VST PluginsMayank’s a YouTuber and definitely not your run-of-the-mill tech fan boy. He becomes a conjurer of melodic, high-frequency sounds on the guitar, and a table tennis ninja in his pastime. Come unravel what else he’s all about on his YouTube and Twitter. Should you have any editorial queries, get in touch at: [email protected]
· A jazz guitar sample library for Kontakt and 4 free to download. Based on WarmJazz Full it has the same quality of the big brother. Dry samples for amp simulators, sweet sounding, warm, with solid bass, dynamic sound, perfect for any kind of jazz music. · I don't know, but based on the emails I get from online VST shops, it's jazz week or month with lots of sales on jazz-related music VSTs. When people actually answer, you might want to jump on some of the recommendations fairly quickly while you can get it at a discount.
Top 20 Free NI Kontakt Libraries In 2020 - Free Orchestra, Guitars, Pianos, Vocal, World Instruments
In this article I’m going to list 5 great sources of free Kontakt instruments. These libraries will not only work in orchestral scoring - you can easily use them in electronic music or any other genre. I hope you’ll find something you like!
1. The Alpine Project
This website is entirely dedicated to free orchestral libraries. I think it’s the best orchestral library out there right now. Bear in mind that the patches are not velocity sensitive - for dynamics, you’re going to have to work the modwheel.
„Alpine Project” libraries are split into 3 categories - brass, strings and woodwinds.
The brass section responds very nicely to modwheel movements. The option to turn off legato is great - this way you can play multiple notes at once. My favourite patches here are the trombones and trumpets.
The string section is divided into 4 parts, like in a real orchestra. Unfortunately there’s no „ensemble” patch with all 4 in one, but if you really need that - this freebie does that. My main complaint is that all of these patches are monophonic - meaning that you can’t play more than one note at once.
All the woodwind patches have two versions, I like the ones labeled as „Try”. Some patches sound a bit unnatural at times, but some sound great. My favourite patches are the saxophone and the clarinets.
Demo: Brass - Horns, Strings - Violin & Bass, Woodwinds - Saxophone & Bass Clarinet
Ever wondered what VST instruments are the most popular? Find it out here.
2. Pettinhouse Audio
This site offers 5 stunning guitar libraries. There’s a beautiful acoustic guitar, electric guitar (labeled DG), classical guitar, jazz guitar and a bass. You can also find some hammond organ patches on the site.
Here’s a demo of the guitars: Acoustic, Classical, Electric & Bass, Jazz
3. Hugo Kant
This guy made a few awesome libraries and shared them for free on his website. There’s a little collection of world instruments, a rhodes piano, a bass guitar and a vibraphone.
Here’s a demo of the world instruments: Nanga, Banjo, Zither
4. Ivy Audio
On this website you’ll find 4 professional sample libraries - a grand piano, a vocalist, a trombone and a drum kit.
„Piano in 162” is a professional sampled grand piano, ready to use in a track. It includes two mic positions and sounds really great.
Btw, an alternative free grand piano is the "Amore Grand Piano" by Precisionsound.
Looking for more free pianos? Check out this article with top 5 free VST pianos.
„Clare Solo” is a solo vocalist patch. It sounds great in legato but allows unison as well. It’s very realistic and sounds professional. The modwheel response and reverb are also awesome features.
The „Carpenter Trombone” is very cinematic. Make sure to use the modwheel!
„Scott Drums” is a pretty standard drum kit. There’s some effects built in too, you can edit each sound individually.
Looking to improve your chord progressions? Check out this tip.
5. Bigcat Instruments
This is a blog run by Joe Stevens, a free sample library enthusiast. He’s got hundreds of free sounds, so I checked all of them and picked my favourites.
Natural Concert Guitar,Acoustic Nylon Guitar, Steel Guitar
Acoustic Bass, Pick Bass
Church Organ, Drawbar Organ, Percussive organ
Upright Piano 1
Upright Piano 2
Thanks for checking out this list, I hope you found something useful!
I’m a music maker who likes to share his experiences with other producers.
I regularly show up with tutorials, articles & project files at PML.
Skype lessons with me: zvukfm.club
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17 Best FREE Guitar VST/AU Plugins that actually sound Great!
We all want the best sound, but getting a great guitar, amp, pedals and so on is quite expensive, so why break the bank when you can get some Virtual Instruments that will do the job.
Of course, they will not sound EXACTLY like the real thing, but close enough!
There are many Guitar VST Plugins, most of them are not free and cost up to $200 (some of them are actually worth the money), but luckily there are some FREE options out there that are quite impressive as well.
The Best FREE Guitar VST Plugins are;
- Ample Guitar M Lite
- Amplitube 4 Custom Shop
- Guitar Rig 5 Player
- Amplifikation Lite
- Poulin Amp Pack
- Emissary by Ignite Amps
- TSE 50x v2
- Ignite Amps NRR-1
- Blue Cat
- Mercuriall Tube Amp Ultra 530
- Amped Roots Free
- The Nick Crow Plugins
- TSE 808 (Tube Screamer)
- Ace Vintage Tube
- FREEAMP 3.6
- Simulanalog Guitar Suite (only 32 bit, not supported in 64 bit)
I also want to add 3 plugins to the list which are not free, but which are really good, should you choose to invest some money into them.
- Guitar Rig 5 ($199)
- Amplitube ($149.99)
- BIAS FX ( Standard $99 and Pro $199)
Ample Guitar M Lite II
This little plugin surprised me quite a bit, mainly because it’s an acoustic guitar emulator.
These don’t usually sound all that great.
Most of the times they don’t even come close to the sound of an actual acoustic guitar.
But this is not the case with Ample Guitar M Lite.
It sounds absolutely fantastic, while also giving you the option to add some effects. You can even double the guitar with the simple press of a button, which will add width and body to the sound.
I think that everyone should download it. Electric guitar plugins are extremely common, but not acoustic ones and like I said, they tend to sound terrible.
Here’s the official download page.
By the way, you can also download a free bass emulator plugin which sounds terrific, make sure to try it out as well.
Related: I also put together a list of the best Guitar VSTs, not just the free ones. If you’re interested you can check that article out here. There will be a couple free ones included, but the vast majority are premium ranging from about $20 all the way up to $350.
Amplitube 4 Custom Shop
One thing I don´t like is that you need to register to be able to download it. (Quite annoying, since it´s free, but hey…still great plugin!)
In this Free Version you get;
- 3 Amplifiers
- One Cabinet
- Volume Pedal
- And a couple more things.
Amplitube can work as a Plugin or as a Standalone program, just like Guitar Rig 5.
It sounds great, a bit better than Guitar Rig in my opinion and when you download the FREE version, you get the full version for 10 days also, which, if you are considering buying the full version of one of these Softwares, is great!
Of all the Plugins on this list, I think it´s the best one.
Check it out here:Amplitube 4.
Related: List of the 18 best Free Synth VST Plugins.
Guitar Rig 5 Player
It sounds just as good as the full version, the BIG difference is the amount of cabinets, amplifiers, effects, etc. that you get.
In the Free Version you get;
- One Amplifier
- One Cabinet
- 2 Delay pedals
- One tube screamer
- A limiter and a noise gate
- Noise reduction
- Volume Pedal
- 2 Equalizers
- 1 Pro filter
- Reverb and a couple more effects.
The great thing about this plugin is that it´s really easy to use, very intuitive, and sounds great. With only the tube screamer though, you won´t be able to achieve really heavy sounds.
It can also be used as a standalone program.
One issue that I had while getting this program was that they ask you to register, just like with Amplitube 4…
Then send you an email with a serial key, which you then have to authenticate using the Native Access program, which you need to download separately.
Other than that, it´s a great choice!
Check it out here: Guitar Rig 5 Player.
If you’re struggling to get a good sounding signal to your DAW it might be due to the quality of your audio interface.
Here’s an article I wrote about to very affordable yet great-sounding Audio Interfaces which will get you sounding better in no time.
Amplifikation Lite by Kuassa
Amplifikation Lite is one of the amps that comes with the Amplifikation One guitar simulation software by Kuassa, which incidentally you can also try out for free, but there will be sound played every 40 sec.
Amplifikation Lite features an Amp with three channels; Clean, Rhythm, and Lead, and let me tell you… they sound fantastic.
If you you’re trying to get one of those 80’s and 90’s rock tones, then this amp sim has definitely got you covered.
The thing I like the most, other than the sound quality, is that it’s extremely easy to use and tweak, thanks to the limited number of controls.
Additionally, it comes with a cabinet, so you don’t have to put one in the chain yourself.
The rhythm channel is by far the one I like the most, but all three of them sound terrific.
So, make sure to give it a try!
Check it out here: Amplifikation Lite.
Note: Kuassa also created one of the best-sounding blues Amp Sims that I ever tried called “Matchlock” that you should also check out! (This one is not free, however, but it only sells for about $22).
LePou Amp Pack
Now we are getting to the Hi Gain Amp section!
These plugins are fantastic for really heavy music, they sound great, and it´s extremely easy to make them work on any DAW.
You need to put a cabinet in the chain though, when you download the amplifier you don´t get the cabinets included…
But you can download LeCab right there on the same website, which is a VST for loading cabinet simulator impulses.
You can actually load 6 simultaneous cabinets and mix them to your liking (LeCab is 32 bit though, you won´t be able to run it on a 64 bit system).
A couple of the amps you get are;
- LeCto which is based on a Mesa Boogie’s dual rectifier.
- Le456 based on Engl Powerball
- LeGion, which is not based on any amp. It’s an Original of LePou.
Honestly these are the best plugins for heavy tones! Try them out!
You don’t need to register, simply download and copy to VST folder.
Check it out here: LePoulin Amp Pack.
Important Note: I wrote a complete guide on how to make a Guitar Amp Simulator Sound good which should be useful to you since they don’t tend to sound as one would expect right from the start!
Emissary by Ignite Amps
Another extremely good heavy sound amp is the Emissary 2.0.
It still has a clean channel which ranges from clean to slightly overdriven tones and a lead channel that is just insanely good for for any kind of metal tones.
The emissary plug-in bundle also includes the NadIR dual impulse response convolver, which is designed to be used as a cabinet simulator both for guitar and bass pre amplifiers.
- Three Routing Modes: Mono, Dual Mono and Stereo
- Automatic high-quality resampling for IRs with different sampling rates
- High-quality analog shaped filters
- Selectable delay
- Continuous morphing control between loaded IRs
- Global input level and single IR level controls
- Fully automatable controls
Check it out here: Emissary by Ignite Amps.
If you are someone who records entire songs at home, then I’m sure that you’re also going to be interested in this article I wrote about the best Free Bass Amp VST Plugins.
TSE x50 v2
This one I also really liked, you can get a huge variety of sounds out of this plugin, from crisp clean tones and cool crunchy sounds, all the way to heavy metal tones.
You can also get the Pro version, which I didn’t try since the free one was more than enough for what I needed.
In this FREE version you get;
- Noise Reduction
- A huge amount of Cabinets
- 4 Distortion pedals
Try it out, it´s easy to use, really intuitive and simply works great.
Check it out here:TSE x50v2.
Related: I wrote a post about the best free DAWs available right now which I think you are going to like.
Another good option is AmpLion, it works as a Plugin and also works as a standalone program.
It comes with;
- 5 channel guitar amp
- 2 cabinets
- Intelligent metronome
- Audio player
- Advanced Recorder
It actually sounds quite nice, you can get great tones out of it!
You can scroll through the presets which all sounds fantastic. Also you have the ability to change the Mic placement on the cabinet.
For being free, you get a lot of variety and control.
Check it out here: AmpLion.
Thinking about building your first home studio? Here’s a list of the essential components that you’ll need.
Ignite Amps NRR-1
The NRR-1 is a digital emulation of an actual three channel tube amp.
It was built for Cristiano Tionfera and it actually resembles the original amp quite a lot.
It’s a fairly simple yet great sounding amp which you should absolutely check out!
- Ignite Amps 3rd generation triode modeling engine.
- Three channels: clean, rhythm and lead, each with fully separated controls.
- Mono / Stereo processing support.
- Selectable oversampling rate (up to 8x).
- Global input / output level controls.
- Double precision (64-bit) floating point mathematical model.
- Fully automatable controls.
- Ignite Amps proprietary preset management system with bank file import/export functions.
Check it out here: Ignite Amps NRR-1.
To take full advantage of your Guitar VSTs, it might be very useful to get some great sounding Drum VSTs as well to achieve that amazing sound you’re looking for.
This guitar amp simulation plugin offers three different amp models;
- Classic clean
- Classic drive
- Modern drive
This is a great sounding plugin which covers a wide range of tones; from clean vintage sounds from the early days all the way to the high-gain heavy sounding metal tones.
They say that this is a plug n’ play amp sim, meaning that once it’s running you’re ready to go…
I found that I needed to fiddle around with the controls a bit to get it to sound quite to my liking.
Still, it’s fantastic, it’s free…
What’s not to like?
Check it out here: Blue Cat free amp sim.
Mercuriall Tube Amp Ultra 530
This would be the Plugin version of the ENGL E530 Preamp. It has a two channel design, Clean and Lead.
You can get all kinds of tones out of it, from crisp cleans, all through crunch to really heavy metal tones. I think it´s best suited for heavy tones though!
It has its limitations (specially the free version) but it is still very useful.
Free version limitations:
- Modeled Triodes – one Tung-Sol.
- Allowed Samplerates – only 44.1 kHz.
- Allowed Oversamplings – Fixed in the X2 state.
- Computing engines – Fixed in the Fast state.
- Allowed Cabinets – 4×12 Modern V30 cabinet.
- Restrictions of tweaking – The change of many parameters was restricted.
- Processing precision – 32-bit (lower precision).
Check it out here: Mercuriall Tube Amp Ultra 530.
Amped Roots Free by ML Sound Lab
Here is another guitar amp sim designed specifically for metal/heavy tones.
Amped Roots free is, basically, the free version of Sound Lab’s software bundle and it comes with one amp: The “5034 Fluff”.
However, to get three more amps: the “5151 Fluff”, the “Freeman Fluff” and the “Mega Fluff”, you need to purchase Amped Roots Full License.
Additionally, it also features a cabinet simulator and two pedals; A Noise Gate and a Drive.
The whole point behind this free amp simulation plugin is to be as simple as possible and to sound perfect right out of the box, and I think they nailed it.
I can absolutely recommend it to anyone who is interested in getting realistic heavy guitar tones out of their guitar.
Amped Roots and the Emissary are probably my top recommendations as far as heavy sounding amps go.
Check it out here: Amped Roots Free.
Nick Crow Plugins
Nick Crow has got some great amp simulators which are mostly really high gain.
I don´t think I would use these to get a clean or a bluesy tone. But if you’re into metal, you will probably find them to be quite useful!
You also need to run them through a VST cabinet, otherwise they will sound horrific, like all amps that you don´t run through cabs!
These are only plugins, no standalone version sadly!
You can download these four from the main site;
- Tube Driver v1.3 (Tube amplifier emulator plugin).
- Nick Crow 8505 Lead v.1.2.
- Nick Crow 7170 Lead v.1.2.
- Wagner Sharp (Tube guitar preamp emulation plugin).
Check it out here:Nick Crow Plugins.
Want some Drum VST Plugins? Here’s my List of the 14 best Free Drum VST Plugins which will take your songs to a whole new level!
TSE 808 Tube Screamer
Yes, this is not a whole program or plugin set, it´s just one Tube Screamer pedal and man is it great! It also comes with the TSE x50 v2, listed above.
It sounds great, you can use it for all kinds of music, to get a blues tone, to make those rock sounds have that little extra bite to them.
I absolutely recommend this one, just fantastic plugin!
Check it out here:TSE 808 Tube Screamer.
Ace Vintage Tube
Ace is a digital emulation of the 1950s, American, all tube, tweed, 5Wamp.
They added to the model two of the most common amplifier mods: Adjustment of the amount of feedback and addition of grid stopper resistors. They both can be turned off if you want to get the original amp sound.
After trying it out for quite a while I thought it sounded great.
You can get a really warm clean tone. It’s not really that useful for heavy rock music but you could try running some distortion pedals through it as well and seeing what happens.
Check it out here:Ace Vintage Tube.
Other essential plugins are the orchestral ones. Here’s my list which includes 20 Free Orchestral VST Plugins which sound fantastic!
This isn’t your typical guitar plugin…
While it does come with the traditional effects, it does have a very distinct and unique sound to it.
I would absolutely recommend downloading it since it’s so different from all the other plugins on this list.
Not only that, but it has a wide variety of tones that can be achieved which can be edited a lot as well.
I comes with a huge array of pedal effects such as overdrive, compressor, delay, etc. which all sound great and very unique!
Check it out here. FREEAMP 3.6.
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite is a free software that contains a couple of amplifiers and some pedals.
Right of the bat I have to say that this plugin is 32bit only, won´t work on 64bit Systems.
The interface is a bit rough but the sound is great and you can achieve quite a variety of them.
This plugin contains;
- Fender Twin 1969 (Amplifier)
- Marshall JCM900 Dual Reverb (Amplifier)
- Boss ds-1 (Distortion)
- Boss SD-1 (Super Overdrive)
- Tube Screamer (Overdrive)
- Oberheim PS-1 (Phaser)
- Univox Univibe (Modulation)
Check it out here:SimulAnalog Guitar Suite.
That concludes the list of the Free Guitar Plugins. Just as an extra I’m going to list 3 Plugins / programs that are not free but that are really the best, should you decide to invest your money into something like this.
Important Note: I wrote a complete guide on how to make a Guitar Amp Simulator Sound good which should be useful to you since they don’t tend to sound as one would expect right from the start!
Check it out!
Guitar Rig 5 Pro
Yes, this one costs $200 but if you are seriously considering using plugins to record, then this one will definitely be a great choice.
It comes with 17 amps, 27 cabinets and over 50 effect, you can edit everything, from shaping the tone to choosing the mic placement.
Guitar Rig is one of the, or probably THEE most popular guitar amp simulation plugin around today for the simple fact that it’s so versatile, plus it sounds great.
It can take you some time to get the tone you desire since right out of the box the sound quality won’t be what you expect; some tweaking is definitely required.
Check it out Here: Guitar Rig 5 Pro
The great thing about downloading the free version, is that get get to try the full version for a couple of days, so you can see if it is worth it.
The difference is that you get way more Amps, Cabinets, Effects, and so on.
Is it worth the money? About $150? I think so, yes. If you plan on really using it.
Check it out Here:Amplitube 4
BIAS FX II and BIAS AMP II
BIAS FX also has a free version, and it’s definitely worth giving a try since it will let you decide whether or not you like it or not..
However, in the free version, every ten seconds or so you get a message saying that you have the demo version and it stops processing your signal for a second, then goes back to reproducing it with all the effects that you assigned to it…which is really annoying!
BUT the full version is actually great. I’ve heard of people having issues with it, like crashing and not working, but for me it works just fine!
You can buy two version, the standard ($100) and the Pro one ($199).
The standard version comes with 12 Amps and 30 effects, while the Pro version comes with 32 amps and 64 effects, plus 10 Studio Rack Processors.
Check it out Here:BIAS FX II and BIAS AMP II.
Learning to Play the Guitar
In order to really be able to record music with these amp sims, you’re going to need to play as good as possible, and I say this because recording is very different to just playing; for some reason, as soon as you press the record button, you feel as if you can’t play anymore!
I’ve been using this website called GuitarTricks for a while now, and they teach you everything there is to know about playing the guitar.
I know that most of you searching for amp sims already know exactly how to play, but if you’re looking for affordable ways to improve, then this is definitely one of them.
I also wrote an entire post on the best websites to learn to play the guitar online, in case you’re looking for a genre-specific course.
If you really need a good sounding plugin for professional recordings, maybe buying a Pro one would be in your best interest, but the free ones sound quite nice and they are, well, FREE!
Just download them all and see which one fits your needs!
I hope this was helpful! Have a great day!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a guitar plug in?
Guitar plugins are often classed as ‘VST‘ plugins. VST stands for ‘Virtual Studio Technology’ and refers to audio plugins that use digital signal processing to simulate hardware and create extremely realistic guitar sounds.
What is a VST host?
VST plugins generally run within a digital audio workstation (DAW) which works as a host, however a few standalone plugin hosts exist which support VST.
What are VST effects?
VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology and there are three different types of VSTs;
VST instruments: These plug-ins generate audio and are either virtual synthesizers or samplers that emulate how the original hardware sounds.
VST effects: Effects process audio instead of generating it. These effects are; Reverb, Relay, etc.
VST MIDI effects: MIDI plug-ins process MIDI messages and send MIDI data to other VST instruments and hardware.
I've worked in a music studio a couple of years back and now I mostly record at home and try to learn as much as I can about producing music and about the gear that is required to do so.
This is something I really enjoy doing.
The whole point of this Website is to help you and others learn more about how to produce music, especially from home.