19 Most Realistic Electric Guitar Amp Sims Available!

Electric guitar amp simulators have been around for quite some time now and there’s lots to choose from.

The question is, which one should you get?

Are the free ones-, and even the paid ones any good?

Should you spend money on one or should you save your hard-earned cash on an actual guitar amp?

I believe that amp simulators definitely have a place, now more than ever… since they actually sound fantastic!

Guitar Amp Sims vs. Real Amps

Both have their place…

There is no replacing real amps, at least not for now, especially in a live setting.

However, when we’re talking about the average musician who just wants to be able to record at home without ruining their neighbors’ day, spending a fortune, and having a huge amp in the middle of their room…

Then amp simulators win by a mile.

Plus, they are super cheap, with some of them even being free.

If you’re looking for a quick and good-sounding solution for your home, then definitely get an amp sim.

For live shows I’d stick with the real amp, even though you can actually run an amp simulation software, or even use the amp sims built into some of the new wireless mixers which sound absolutely fantastic!

Definitely check those out.

Moving on…

Free Electric Guitar Amp Simulators

These ones, while not providing the largest number of features, cabinets, amps, etc., actually sound pretty damn good…

And best of all, they’re free!

Bias Amp 2 Demo by Positive Grid

This plugin is absolutely fantastic; it sounds amazingly well and the amount of tones you can achieve are vast!

You can also download BIAS FX, which includes a huge array of stomp boxes, cabinets, and amps.

I would honestly recommend you download both of them!

Now, when you download the demo version you can use everything…

However, presets cannot be saved, which isn’t too bad on its own.

But the sound will automatically cut off after five minutes of use until the first seven days have gone by.

After this period, you will only be able to use the plugin for 20 sec before it cuts off…

This is why I’d actually recommend you buying the plugin if you like it since it’s one of the most affordable ones out there.

Plus, I think that it’s the best one overall.

Features

  • Amp Match
  • Dynamic Touch Response

You can download it here.

Related: Here’s a list of the best free Bass Amp Sim VST Plugins.

Guitar Rig Player

Guitar Rig Player is a stripped-down version of the famous Guitar Rig plugin.

While I don’t think it sounds as good as the new BIAS Amp 2, Guitar Rig Player definitely has a lot to offer.

First of all, you can use it indefinitely, without the amp simulation suddenly stopping… Like it does with BIAS Amp 2.

And it also comes with quite a decent number of effects, stomp boxes, amps, etc.

With its simple drag-and-drop interface you should be able to get a decent sound in no time.

However, getting some of those extremely realistic tones will require a bit of tweaking… but it definitely can be done.

Here’s what you get with the free version:

  • Tuner
  • One Amplifier
  • One Cabinet
  • 2 Delay pedals
  • Compressor
  • One tube screamer
  • A limiter and a noise gate
  • 2 Equalizers
  • Noise reduction
  • Volume Pedal
  • 1 Pro filter
  • Reverb and a couple more effects.

If you’re only looking for a heavy sounding amp sim, then maybe this one might not be the right one for you since it only comes with one Tube Screamer and that’s it!

Heavy rock tones can’t really be achieved as easily.

One issue with Guitar Rig Player is that they ask you to register in order to be able to use it.

After this they send you an email with a serial key which you then have to authenticate using the Native Access program (Separate download).

If you don’t mind jumping through a couple hoops, then definitely give this amp sim a try!

You can download it here.

Related: Here’s a list of the best free Drum VST Plugins.

Amplitube Custom Shop

Amplitube Custom Shop is very similar to Guitar Rig Player in the sense that it’s just a stripped-down version of the full software.

I personally like this one a bit more simply because it sounds better to my ears.

But this might not be the case for you, so trying them both out might be your best option.

One thing I really didn’t like about Amplitube is the same that I didn’t like about Guitar Rig Player…

They make you register and jump through some hoops in order to download the software…

Still, nothing too crazy!

Here’s what you get with the free version:

  • 3 Amplifiers
  • One Cabinet
  • Tuner
  • Delay
  • Overdrive
  • Compressor
  • Volume Pedal
  • Equalizer
  • Chorus
  • Flanger
  • Wah-Wah
  • Tremolo
  • And a couple more things.

All in all, Amplitube Custom Shop is a great free amp sim which you should definitely check out.

You can download it here.

LePou Amp Simulators

I don’t think you’ll find better heavy metal/heavy rock amp simulators than these… maybe just the next one on this list, but that’s up to you to decide!

All of the LePou amps are extremely light weight and can create some extremely realistic heavy guitar tones.

Here are some of the amps you can download:

  • LeCto, which is based on a Mesa Boogie’s dual rectifier.
  • Le456 based on Engl Powerball
  • LeGion, which is an Original of LePou.

There isn’t much more to say about these great amp sims, just download them and give them a try…

I promise you’ll love them.

You can download them here.

Related: Here’s a list of the best free Orchestral VST Plugins.

Emissary by Ignite Amps

Created with GIMP

If there’s one amp simulator that’s absolutely excellent for achieving extremely heavy tones, it’s got to be the Emissary.

It does still have a clean channel which ranges from clean to slightly overdriven tones that sound pretty darn good…

However, the lead channel is where this amp really shines.

You can definitely record some amazing djent, heavy metal, and more with this amp and it will be near impossible to think that it’s not the real thing.

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.

Features

  • 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

You can download it here.

Freeamp by Fretted Synth Audio

This is not your traditional amp simulation plugin…

Freeamp sounds completely different from a regular amp sim, even though it provides all the same effects, stomp boxes, etc. as many other ones, however it does have a very unique sound to it.

This is why it’s on this list…

It’s so different that I had to include it, plus you won’t be able to achieve these tones with almost any other amp sim.

You can download it here.

Affordable Electric Guitar Amp Simulators

Now you’re arrived at the section where I’ll go over all the amp plugins that you need to buy in order to use, but which are actually super affordable!

BIAS Amp2 and FX 2 (Under $100)

I already mentioned both of these right at the start of this article since they provide a free demo version which allows you to use virtually anything the plugins have to offer for about 5 min and then the audio cuts off.

If you tried any of them out and found that you really like them, then I’d highly advice you to upgrade to the paid version.

BIAS FX already provides you with loads of amps, stomp boxes, cabinets, etc. but if you really want to take advantage of the full range of models they offer, then you should also get AMP 2.

You could, however, purchase one and then get the other one later down the line.

No matter which one you choose, both of them would be my top recommendation as far as affordable plugins go.

At this price point I don’t think that there’s any other amp sim that can beat these two.

You can get them here: BIAS FX and AMP 2.

Related: Here’s a list of the best free DAWs.

Amplitube 4

The full version of Amplitube 4 is completely amazing.

The great thing is that you can download the free version first, which I already described in the free amp sim section, and try the whole thing out for a couple days…

If you like it, then simply upgrade to the full version.

Note: Like I mentioned earlier, the trial of this software gives you access to everything…

Once this time-period runs out you’ll lose access to some of the features unless you upgrade.

Amplitube is probably the most widely-used amp sim plugin out there, and even artists like Malcolm Young from AC/DC used it.

If this isn’t a testament to its quality, I don’t know what is…

Features

  • Ultra-realistic virtual amplification for your guitar and bass
  • Five new “British” amp models from ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s
  • Acoustic Guitar Simulator
  • UltraTuner – precise digital tuning accurate to 1/100th of a cent
  • Power Amp/Speaker dynamic response
  • 3D Cab Room with selectable room simulations
  • Dual mic placement on any speaker
  • Individual speaker selection
  • Speaker interaction modeling

You can get it here.

Matchlock by Kuassa

Kuassa have been in the amp simulation business for quite some time now and their latest amp sim, the Matchlock, is absolutely fantastic.

Now, it’s not an amp designed to achieve heavy rock tones or anything like that…

It’s actually modeled around the earlier Fender amps which means that the blues tones it can crank out are just insane.

Just listen to this short demo of it and you’ll see what I mean;

The great thing is that it’s also super affordable, only setting you back $49 to get the whole thing.

Even better than this is that you can actually download it for completely free and use every single thing without limitations.

However, there will be noise generated every 40 seconds until you purchase the license key… at least you get to try out the tones before having to buy it.

If you are looking for an amp sim that has an amazing blues sound, then look no further!

You can get it here.

PRS SuperModels by Waves

The PRS SuperModels were created in collaboration with Paul Reed Smith.

Even though you only get three amps, they are actually quite versatile… allowing you to achieve loads of different tones which should fit in perfectly in nearly every mix.

The three amps you get are; The Dallas, Archon, and Blue Sierra/V9.

The Dallas and V9 are for more laid-back styles of playing, while the Archon is designed completely for metal and other heavy styles.

I actually like the V9 a lot for rock/metal guitar solos as well… the tone is just killer!

This plugin bundle is super affordable, setting you back only about $39 (at the time of writing this article).

You can download them here.

S-Gear by Scuffham ($129)

I had not heard of this amp sim until very recently, but I’m very happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how it sounded.

It’s a bit more expensive than the ones I’ve listed so far, but it might be worth it for you!

Luckily, there’s a 15-day free trial…

So, download the free trial, see how you feel about it, and then decide!

All the amps and effects were designed by Mike Scuffham (former product designer for Marshall Amplification).

There’s not much else to say about this amp simulation plugin…

Here’s a video where you can see it in action;

You can download it here.

Toneforge by JST (Starting at $59)

Toneforge by Joey Sturgis Tones is a line of amp simulators which, to be honest, are mainly focus on the heavier tones.

All of the amps are original designs which, contrary to most other amp simulators out there, means that they aren’t emulating any of the classic amplifiers.

The sound quality is outstanding and the tones you can achieve are also excellent!

Like I mentioned, your best bet would be to use them for heavy driven tones.

Some of its signature amps are by Jason Richardson, Misha Mansoor, and more, and their prices range from $59 up to $129.

Here’s a video about the Misha Mansoor amp;

The Toneforge amps are definitely worth a try…

With the only downside being that there doesn’t seem to be any demo/free trial version of any of the amps…

You can download them here.

Archetype by Neural DSP & Plini ($119)

Plini is one of today’s best guitar players out there.

He teamed up with Neural DPS to work together on an amp sim that sounds absolutely amazing!

Archetype features three different amps: A Clean-, Crunchy-, and Lead one… and they all sound fantastic!

A compressor and booster/overdrive pedal are included to provide additional flexibility and adaptability to different styles and instruments.

A 9-band EQ is also included, as well as some Reverb and Delay effects.

Lastly, it includes a fantastic cab sim.

And that’s really it…

It’s a super simple amp simulation plugin that comes with a very clean and clear interface, making everything super intuitive… and the sound is just absurdly good!

Not only that but you can try it for free, since they offer a free 14-day trial.

Note: Neural DSP created a lot of other amp sims which you should also check out.

You can download it here.

Premium Electric Guitar Amp Simulators

In this section I will list a couple amp simulators that provide way more amps, cabinets, stomp boxes, etc. with the only downside being that they are a bit more expensive.

To be honest, I don’t think that spending around $300 is worth it for most people.

The fact of the matter is that most of these plugins, even the free ones, already sound pretty darn good, and they already offer a huge variety of features.

Moving on…

Guitar Rig Pro 5 by Native Instruments ($199)

To be honest, I haven’t gotten the best guitar sounds out of this amp sim.

It’s super easy to use since you just drag-and-drop whatever you need into the chain.

However, it did take me some time and a lot of tweaking to get a great tone out of it.

I’ve seen many people use Guitar Rig with far more success than I have, which is why I believe you should try Guitar Rig Player first, which is the free version I discussed earlier, and see how you like it.

With all the features it provides, like 17 different amps, 27 cabinets, a huge array of effects, stomp boxes, etc., Guitar Rig is definitely worth the money and I know that loads of people love it!

You can download it here.

TH-U Full by Overloud ($269)

I’ve never seen any other amp sim out there that provides so many different amps, cabinets, etc.

Yes, it sounds absolutely fantastic, there’s no doubt about that…

But, is it easy to use? And is it worth the money?

As far as the ease of use goes, there’s definitely a learning curve.

More than with any of the other amp sims on this list actually.

The reason for this is that you can get a bit lost and overwhelmed due to the huge number of options that you have at your disposal.

As far as the price goes…

I think it’s a completely fair price simply because of everything you get with it… plus, it sounds great!

Features

  • 89 guitar amplifiers and 4 bass amplifiers
  • 50 guitar cabinets and 2 bass cabinets
  • 77 pedal and rack effects
  • 18 microphone models, with up to four mics on each cabinet
  • More than 1000 presets covering all musical styles

Note: You can also download a free demo version of the TH-U.

You can download it here.

Helix Native by Line 6 ($399)

Helix Native is definitely not geared towards the complete beginners.

I would only recommend this this one if you already got some experience with amp simulators under your belt.

But if you do, this one can definitely help you improve your tone since the customization options are just insane.

The clean tones sound fantastic and the heavy metal tones are just amazing…

Now, is it worth the price?

With other amp sims being so much more affordable, I’d say that only if you feel like you can really take advantage of all its features, then it’s worth the price.

Otherwise you would be much better off saving a couple bucks and purchasing something cheaper since you won’t utilize all the features.

You can download it here.

And lastly…

BIAS FX 2 and AMP 2 Full Versions (From $259)

I know I mentioned both of these plugins quite a lot already, so I’ll keep this short.

Both of them are excellent, provide you with loads of amps, cabinets, stomp boxes, etc. and the full versions simply pack a lot more features than the free- and standard ones.

If you tried the free version and liked it, then by all means… upgrade to the full version.

You can download them here: BIAS FX and AMP 2.

Conclusion

Is it really worth spending money on an electric guitar amp simulator?…

I believe so, yes!

Most of the free ones will work just fine, but some times you’ll need that little extra which you will only be able to get from a premium one.

There’s no need to spend a fortune though; the BIAS ones are great and pretty affordable, so is Archetype by Neural DSP, and a bunch of the others as well.

I hope this information was useful!

Have a great day!

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