Last Updated on February 19, 2021.
Today we will be taking a look at the best Free guitar VSTs currently available. I will be including amp simulators, acoustic guitar emulators, and electric guitar pedal VSTs.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
The 5 Best Guitar VSTs are;
|Guitar Rig 6 Player||Standalone, VST, AU, AAX||Windows, Mac 64-bit|
|Amplitube 5 Custom Shop||Standalone, VST2, VST3, AU, AAX||Windows, Mac 64-bit|
|Amped Roots Free||Standalone, VST3, AU, AAX||Windows, Mac 64-bit|
|Emissary by Ignite Amps||VST, AU||Windows, Mac 64-bit|
|NRR-1 by Ignite Amps||VST, VST3, AU||Windows, Mac 64-bit|
Guitar Rig 6 Player
The newly released version of Guitar Rig (Guitar Rig 6) comes with a whole new-looking user interface as well as some cool improvements over the previous Guitar Rig 5 and of course, there’s a stripped down version of this software for you to try!
Guitar Rig 6 Player is the free version of Guitar Rig 6 Pro that comes with a lot less features, such as amps, cabinets, pedals, and other effects, but it’s free and you can use it indefinitely without any restrictions.
It includes a British-style tube amp with a matched cabinet, 13 effects, such as Delay, Reverb, Distortion, EQ, and more, as well as 50 presets.
Guitar Rig features a drag-and-drop interface which makes this amp siulator ideal for beginners since it’s so easy to use!
Guitar Rig 6 Clean Guitar:
Amplitube 5 Custom Shop
Amplitube 5 Custom Shop is very similar to Guitar Rig in almost every way since it also features a drag and drop interface, it doesn’t come with any limitations, such as working for 5 minutes and then needing to close- and open it back again, etc.
In fact, once you download it you will have access to the pro version of the software for a 10-day period where you can try all the different features.
Once the 10-day trial is up, only a couple of the features will remain active, which are; 5 amplifiers with matching cabinets, 6 cabinets, a Tuner, about 10 effect pedals, and some other simple features like being able to change the mic placement.
Just like Guitar Rig, Amplitube works as a Standalone software, which means that you don’t necessarily need a DAW to run it, and in terms of the sound quality, it really does sound fantastic!
Amped Roots Free
Amped Roots is by far the best heavy-sounding and high-gain free amp simulation I’ve tried so far, and best of all, it’s extremely easy to use since it only has a couple controls and that’s it.
It features a couple different presets and they all sound fantastic, even the “high noon” one, which simply sets all the knobs to 12 o-clock.
Additionally, it features a cabinet simulator and two pedals; A Noise Gate and a Drive.
If you’re into metal, djent, heavy rock, or any other genre that requires a lot of gain, I honestly think that this amp sim is the way to go since it sounds perfect right from the start.
Amped Roots using the Dard Rock Preset:
Amped Roots using the High-Noon Preset:
Amplion follows a Similar approach to Amplitube and Guitar rig in the sense that it’s not just emulating one type of amp, but it also includes a couple different cabinets and effects (if you download their Intone 2 plugin as well).
The free version of Amplion includes a 5-channel amp, 2 cabinets, a metronome, an audio player and an audio recorder, and if you want to add effects to it you will have to use the Free Intone 2 plugin.
Amplion 2nd Amp Channel:
Additionally, it lets you adjust the mic placement on the cabinet to further control the sound.
I have to say that Amplion, at least the free version, is nowhere near as good as any of the other plugins on this list, but it’s free and it may come in handy at some point, but the overall sound quality isn’t as realistic as Amplitube or Guitar Rig.
Emissary by Ignite Amps
If you’re looking for a fantastic free guitar amp for heavy tones, then this one’s it (as is Amped Roots Free).
The Emissary features two channels; Clean and Lead, and they sound pretty damn good, but the one I that sets the Emissary apart from most other freeware amp sims is the Lead channel since it’s capable or reproducing some pretty convincing high-gain tones.
Now, you will need to use an Impulse Response (Cabinet sim) with it since it doesn’t come with one built in, but Ignite Amps were kind enough to create the NadIR dual impulse response convolver which is absolutely fantastic since you can choose between different microphones and mix them together.
Like I said, the Emissary is the ideal amp sim for recording heavy music, and both the Lead and Clean channels sound absolutely fantastic!
NRR-1 Ignite Amps
NRR-1 is a digital emulation of a three channels tube preamplifier for guitar and it’s based on a real amp made in ’88.
It features a Clean Channel, as well as a Rhythm Channel and a Lead Channel, all with their respective EQ, Gain and Volume controls.
I prefer the Emissary over this one, but the NRR-1 is slightly more versatile since it’s got three channels!
Oh, and you will need to use an Impulse Response (Cab Sim) with this one as well, so make sure to get the NadIR!
Amplifikation Lite is a lightweight and easy to use amp sim that features three different channels: Clean, Rhythm and Lead and you can control the Input level and Gain as well as the output level.
A basic EQ is also available with the typical Treble, Mid, and Bass controls, as well as presence.
Additionally, you will be able to turn on and off its built-in cabinet simulation, which means that you could use a different one if you wanted to.
In terms of the sound quality, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised, especially with the Rhythm channel since it sound quite realistic, and it’s the one I ended up using the most.
Here we have a whole set of amp sims, 7 in total, and all of them are focused mainly on High-Gain tones.
Most of the LePou amp sims don’t include a built-in cabinet, but luckily you can use LePou’s “LeCab2”, which works as a cabinet impulse response loader and place it in the chain right after the amp.
One great sounding combo is to use the HyBrit amp head with the LeCab2 impulse response loader and to add the Greed Smasher Pedal by Mercuriall (linked further in this post) to the chain.
If you do this, you will be able to get some pretty convincing metal tones out of this setup.
Blue Cat Free Amp
With the Blue Cat Free amp pack you are granted access to three different amp models; Classic Clean, Classic Drive, Modern Drive.
This means that you should be able to get a wide variety of tones out of this amp sim; from vintage all the way to modern rock- and even high-gain tones.
Every amp offers the same controls, such as Gain, Drive, Bass, Mid, Treble, Tone and Volume.
All in all, these three amps are quite basic and you will have to play around with the settings to get them to sound how you want them to, or maybe you’ll even have to add one or two pedal VSTs to the chain, but once you invest some time into learning how to tweak them, they will sound great!
Blue Cat’s Classic Drive Amp:
Free Acoustic Guitar VSTs
I just listed loads of Amp simulators, but there are other Guitar VSTs that you might find useful, which is why I decided to include one Free Acoustic Guitar emulation (the only good free one I managed to find), and some honorable mentions which aren’t as good, but they do still work.
Ample Guitar M Lite II
Ample Guitar M Lite II is by far the best Free emulation of an Acoustic Guitar, and with the right settings it can sound very similar to the real deal.
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.
Just download some free MIDI files and use them with this plugin… You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Now, these next to acoustic guitar VSTs are nowhere near as good as Ample Guitar m Lite II, but they do have their place.
- DSK Akoustik Guitarz: Features 4 acoustic guitar types and a couple simple parameters to control the sound.
- DSK Nylon Guitars: Classical Guitar Emulation with a very basic control set.
Free Electric Guitar Pedals and Effects
Now that you have your new amp sims, you might find it useful to place some pedals in the chain as well to improve the sound, so here are a couple I found.
TSE 808 Tube Screamer
If you’re looking for an emulation of the classic Tube Screamer sound, then the TSE 808 might be what you need.
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, and more.
It features the typical Drive, Volume and Tone knobs, as well as two switches that let you control the Audio Quality and between Stereo and mono.
Mercuriall Metal Area mt-a
The Mercuriall Metal Area mt-a is an emulation of the BOSS Metal Zone MT-2 pedal, which I actually used to own, and it does offer the same controls and even a similar overall sound quality.
The controls it features are; Level, Distorsion, and the EQ which has High, Low and sweepable Mid bands.
If you’re into metal, give this one a try!
HEPTODE Deep Crunch
HEPTODE offers two Pedal VSTs that you can download, the Deep Crunch and the Heavy Tone.
Deep Crunch is the official emulation of the analog boutique guitar pedal manufactured by Heptode. Inspired by the Soldano SLO-100 amp crunch channel, Virtual Deep Crunch produces very realistic tubish crunchy sounds.
The Heavy Tone is the official emulation of the analog boutique guitar pedal manufactured by Heptode. Inspired by the Soldano SLO-100 amp overdrive channel, Virtual Heavy Tone produces a very realistic tubish hi-gain distortion.
Mercuriall Chorus WS-I
The Mercuriall Chorus WS-I is a simple yet great-sounding Chorus pedal that features the following controls;
- Depth, Speed, Mix, Mono/Stereo, On/Off knob
I very rarely reach for this pedal, but it’s mainly because when I’m recording using an amp sim I use Amplitube or BIAS FX, and these come with included effects, which is why I generally don’t need this one.
But it does work, so give it a try.
Ignite Amps ProF.E.T.
ProF.E.T. is a digital emulation of a high gain distortion preamp/stomp-box for guitar. It has been developed to accurately model its real hardware counterpart.
It is capable of delivering tons of tube-like saturation and it features a couple different controls, such as Gain and Volume, Bass, Low Mids, High Mids with a shape switch.
Mercuriall Greed Smasher
The Greed Smasher is based on the Mesa Boogie Grid Slammer overdrive pedal, and while the original pedal is pretty damn impressive, Mercuriall managed to make this pedal simulation quite similar to the original.
Out of all the Mercuriall pedal VSTs I just mentioned, I’d have to say that this one is my overall favorite.
If you’re looking for a good-sounding overdrive to boost your amps with, then try this one out!
Here I will include a couple Amp Simulators that didn’t make the cut, but not because they don’t sound great but rather because their “free” versions are actually “demo” versions that cut the sound every so often, which means that you really can’t use them to record properly.
However, the 3 that I will mention are FANTASTIC if you manage to purchase the license, which in the case of these software isn’t that expensive (about $40-$70 for each).
The amp simis I’m talking about are;
- BIAS FX II: This one is similar to Guitar Rig since it features many amps, cabinets and effects, and the overall sound quality is fantastic, plus it sells for $59. The demo version cuts the sound every 4-5 minutes.
- BIAS AMP II: Best in-depth amp tweaking software. However, no effects included. Sells for $59 and the demo version cuts the sound every 4-5 minutes.
- TSE x50 v2: One of the best sounding Amp Sims out there because of how well their Cabinet Simulation (impulse responses) work, and it only costs $69. The demo version cuts the sound every 30 seconds.
Give Guitar Rig 6 and Amplitube Custom Shop 5 a shot, but if you’re into heavier tones then please try out Amped Roots Free and the Emissary since they sound incredibly well!
Other than that, try out all of the pedals I mentioned and if you think that you can invest some money into an Amp Sim, consider the last three I listed or just the pro version of the free ones I listed in the beginning.