Music production in the digital age is a thrilling journey full of exciting tools and technologies. One such tool, Virtual Studio Technology (VST) plugins, has revolutionized how we create music, offering a vast array of sounds and effects at our fingertips. Let’s dive into the world of guitar VST plugins and examine some of the best free options available today.
Immersive, realistic, and highly versatile, Ample Sound’s Ample Guitar M Lite II stands out in the realm of guitar VST plugins. This plugin meticulously emulates the sound of a Martin Acoustic Guitar, bringing the richness and resonance of this iconic instrument to your tracks.
Ample Guitar M Lite II offers multiple articulations, including palm mute, slide in and out, and natural harmonics. It features a Strummer with 14 strum notes, 26 keys for strumming, a sequencer, and an effects rack with 7 effects: compressor, overdrive, 5-band EQ, flanger, phaser, delay, and reverb.
This plugin excels in delivering an authentic acoustic guitar sound with a rich, resonant tone and great playability. It’s perfect for creating realistic guitar tracks in a variety of genres.
While it offers excellent acoustic sounds, it lacks in the electric guitar department. Therefore, if you’re looking for electric guitar tones, you might need to explore other plugins.
Spitfire Audio LABS – Acoustic Guitar is a fantastic option for those seeking a warm, intimate, and beautifully sampled acoustic guitar sound. This plugin captures the soul of the acoustic guitar, offering a deeply expressive instrument for your DAW.
Spitfire Audio LABS – Acoustic Guitar provides a straightforward, user-friendly interface with minimal controls, allowing you to focus on making music. The plugin features a variety of articulations, enabling you to create intricate and expressive guitar parts.
The strength of this plugin lies in its authenticity and simplicity. The sampled guitar sounds warm and intimate, and the simplicity of the interface makes it accessible to producers of all skill levels.
Given its focus on simplicity, it lacks some of the advanced features found in other plugins, such as a comprehensive effects rack or extensive articulation options.
DSK Dynamic Guitars is a versatile plugin that offers a trio of guitar types: acoustic, steel, and nylon. This diversity of tones makes it a valuable addition to any producer’s toolkit.
Each of the three guitars in DSK Dynamic Guitars has its individual controls for volume and pan, allowing you to balance the sounds to suit your mix. The plugin also features ADSR envelope controls, giving you more control over the sound’s dynamics.
The strength of DSK Dynamic Guitars lies in its versatility. With three distinct guitar types in one plugin, finding the right sound for your track is easy.
While it provides a range of guitar types, the overall sound quality may not be as high as some of the other plugins on this list. You may need to consider other options for more detailed and nuanced guitar sounds.
Emulating the iconic sounds of the ’60s combo organ, the Martinic Combo Model F is a unique and exciting addition to the world of VST plugins. But don’t be fooled by its organ roots – this plugin also delivers a warm, analog guitar tone, offering a different flavor to your music production palette.
The Martinic Combo Model F features six drawbars, percussion control, vibrato, and adjustable key contact simulation. It also includes a stompbox-style distortion effect to add grit to your sound.
This plugin’s unique appeal lies in its ability to recreate the classic ’60s combo organ sound, making it perfect for adding a vintage vibe to your tracks. Moreover, its warm, analog tone is a boon for guitar tracks, especially if you’re looking to step away from conventional guitar sounds.
While the Martinic Combo Model F excels in vintage organ and guitar sounds, it may not cater to producers seeking modern, high-gain guitar tones. Also, the plugin might be slightly complex for beginners due to its unique control set.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Player is a powerhouse in the guitar VST world. It serves as a comprehensive suite for all your guitar processing needs, boasting a vast array of amps, cabinets, and effects.
Guitar Rig 6 Player offers a wide range of high-quality components, including 17 amps, 27 cabinets, and 54 effects. The plugin also features a modular structure, allowing you to create custom signal chains to craft your unique sound.
The extensive collection of amps, cabinets, and effects make the Guitar Rig 6 Player an incredibly versatile tool. Whether you’re after a clean, vintage tone or a high-gain modern sound, this plugin has you covered.
As comprehensive as it is, Guitar Rig 6 Player can be overwhelming for beginners due to its array of controls and options. Additionally, while the free version offers a good variety of sounds, some users might find the selection limited compared to the Pro version.
Ignite Amps Emissary is a beast in the realm of high-gain guitar tones. This plugin emulates a tube amplifier, offering a range of sounds from clean to extreme distortion. It’s a godsend for rock and metal producers.
Emissary comes with two independent channels with gain, volume, and EQ controls. It also features a global input level control and a comprehensive cabinet simulation section with a selection of mic options.
The Emissary shines when it comes to delivering aggressive, high-gain tones with clarity and punch. Its highly responsive controls allow for precise tone shaping, making it a favorite among rock and metal producers.
While the Emissary excels in high-gain territories, it might not be the best choice for those seeking clean, subtle guitar tones. Its focus on heavy sounds makes it less versatile for genres outside of rock and metal.
TSE X50 v2.4 is a faithful digital emulation of a renowned US guitar amp, celebrated for its signature high-gain sound. Offering rhythm and lead channels, a pedalboard, and various cabs, this plugin is a one-stop shop for heavy guitar tones.
The TSE X50 v2.4 includes an adjustable power amp section, a comprehensive pedalboard with overdrive, EQ, chorus, and delay effects, and an array of cabinet simulations. Moreover, it features a tube screamer simulation and a 4×12 custom cabinet IR.
The plugin excels in delivering a high-gain, aggressive sound, making it an excellent choice for hard rock and metal genres. The comprehensive pedalboard and adjustable power amp section offer plenty of tone-shaping possibilities.
While the TSE X50 v2.4 provides fantastic high-gain tones, it might not be as versatile for those seeking clean or vintage tones. If your musical style leans more toward softer genres, you might need to look at other options.
The LePou Amp Suite is a collection of five amplifier plugins, each emulating different types of guitar amplifiers. This suite offers a broad spectrum of tones, from sparkling cleans to heavy distortions.
Each amplifier in the LePou Amp Suite comes with its unique set of controls for adjusting gain, EQ, presence, and resonance. Moreover, the plugins are compatible with cabinet impulse responses, offering you a world of tonal possibilities.
The LePou Amp Suite shines in its versatility. Whether you’re after a clean, country twang or a high-gain metal roar, this suite has an amplifier to meet your needs.
While the LePou Amp Suite offers a wide range of amplifier emulations, it doesn’t come with its cabinet impulse responses. You’ll need to find and load these separately, which might be a bit of a learning curve for beginners.
Voxengo Boogex is a powerful amplifier and cabinet simulator offering a wide range of tonal possibilities. Its ability to load custom impulse responses allows for an endless variety of guitar tones.
Boogex features an adjustable input gain, an amplifier gain control, and a comprehensive EQ section. It also includes a dynamics processor and a reverb module, allowing you to shape your guitar tone further.
The strength of Boogex lies in its versatility. With the ability to load custom impulse responses, you can recreate virtually any guitar tone. Moreover, its dynamic processing and reverb module add extra dimensions to your sound.
Though Boogex offers a broad tonal palette, its interface might be a little intimidating for beginners. It requires a basic understanding of amplifiers and cabinets, and finding the right impulse responses can be challenging.
Audio Assault’s Grind Machine II is a must-have for those seeking heavy, aggressive guitar tones. This plugin offers a wealth of high-gain amps and cabs, perfect for rock and metal genres.
Grind Machine II features 15 amplifier models, 7 modelled cabinets, a noise gate, and a selection of high-quality filters. It also includes a dynamic ‘Djent’ contour switch for achieving that tight, percussive metal tone.
This plugin excels in delivering high-gain, aggressive guitar tones. Its wide range of amplifier models and the ‘Djent’ contour switch makes it an ideal choice for rock and metal producers.
While Grind Machine II is a powerhouse for heavy tones, it might not be the best choice for those seeking clean or vintage tones. Its focus on high-gain sounds makes it less versatile for other musical styles.
While we’ve covered the features, strengths, and weaknesses of the top free guitar VST plugins, we would be remiss not to share some tips and tricks for getting the most out of these powerful tools.
Whether you’re using Ample Sound Ample Guitar M Lite II for its ultra-realistic guitar sounds, or the high-gain beast that is Audio Assault’s Grind Machine II, it’s essential to understand the plugin’s functions. Spend time exploring each knob, button, and slider. This knowledge will prove invaluable when you’re trying to sculpt the perfect tone for your track.
While it might be tempting to stack multiple effects on your guitar track, remember the adage: less is more. Too many effects can muddle your guitar tone, making it sound overprocessed and artificial. Use effects sparingly and purposefully to enhance the natural sound of your guitar.
Many guitar VST plugins come with a selection of presets. These can be a great starting point for crafting your sound. However, don’t be afraid to tweak these presets. Remember, the goal is to create a guitar tone that fits your specific track, not to fit your track around a preset tone.
Just as a guitarist might use different guitars for different songs, don’t be afraid to use different plugins for different tracks. Blending the sounds of two or more plugins can result in a unique and complex tone that sets your music apart.
Ensure that each stage of your signal chain – from the VST instrument to the effects to the track fader – is not clipping or distorting (unless intended). This practice, known as gain staging, is crucial for maintaining a clean and professional sound.
By following these tips and tricks and by leveraging the unique features of these free guitar VST plugins, you’ll be well on your way to crafting guitar tones that are as unique and expressive as the music you make.
The beauty of music lies in its boundless potential for creativity and expression. And with the right tools, this potential is at your fingertips. These free guitar VST plugins are more than just digital replications of real guitars – they’re powerful creative tools that can breathe life into your music.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a beginner just starting out, these plugins offer a world of possibilities. From the authentic strumming patterns of Ample Sound Ample Guitar M Lite II to the high-gain fury of Ignite Amps Emissary, there’s a plugin for every style and genre.
So explore these incredible tools, and let your creativity shine. After all, there are no boundaries in the world of music, only horizons to chase. Let these free guitar VST plugins be your guide on this exciting journey.