Here are some free guitar VST plugins that cover effects, amps and virtual instruments.
Set up your virtual rig of effects, amplifiers and even instruments without the hardware and without spending money. These plugins offer sounds that can compare to commercial counterparts, and will serve as a free entry point for those that want to test the waters before diving into the digital realm of guitar instruments and sounds.
AmpliTube Custom Shop
AmpliTube's top spot is secured by its widespread popularity and positive user feedback. The free version AmpliTube Custom Shop comes with 24 essential guitar effects and amps that will cover basic guitar music production needs. There are 9 stompboxes, 4 amps, 5 cabinets 3 microphones, 2 rack effects and a nifty digital tuner. You can expand on this setup by purchasing virtual gear from their online in-app store. They offer various software reproductions of gear from big name brands like Orange, Fender, Soldano, T-Rex and many more. AmpliTube will cater to beginners who just want to try, and will also impress geeks who need depth and better options. Available for Windows and Mac OS X.
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite comes with a set of VST plugins that emulate commonly used guitar pedals and amps. It maybe old but it continues to be sought after because of its simplicity and quality. It is a product of academic research and is free from commercial hype. It comes with five popular guitar pedals which include Boss SD-1, Boss DS-1, Univox Univibe, Oberheim PS-1 and Tube Screamer. Its simple interface lacks the eye candy found on commercial software but the sound was to studied to have a difference of less than -40dB when compared to the original devices. Available for Windows.
If you think versatile and great looking interfaces are only available in commercial plugins, you will be surprised with the Shred Suite. It comes with six versatile virtual amplifier heads that cover clean tones up to over-the-top distortion. The Honken model is designed to provide you with sweet and glassy British clean and crunch, while the Quarter amp head emulates amp break-up ideal for blues. The Marvel, Supersound and Shred models provide you with three varying flavors of distortion that produces a lot of rock and metal tones. An all poweramp model called Enthalpos is also included which gives you transparent sound. Finally, you can build your own "FrankenAmp" by mixing the parts of the amp heads to your specs. Available for Windows.
DSK AkoustiK GuitarZ
DSK is a known producer of free virtual instruments and their AkoustiK GuitarZ is a favorite pick among the budget conscious music producers. This free VSTi (instrument) provides sample based acoustic guitar sounds that are velocity sensitive and produce respectable audio quality. It comes with 4 acoustic guitar types that offer versatile sounds, and you can fine tune to your preference. For coloration, it comes with delay, chorus and flanger effects and you can also use the built-in amplifier envelope for further tone shaping. This plugin will simply help you get simple guitar duties done without an actual guitar player. Available for Windows.
DSK Electrik GuitarZ
DSK Electrik GuitarZ is another free virtual instrument plugin from DSK, this time producing electric guitar sounds. This plugin gives you up to 10 electric guitar models which can be fine tuned via its wealth of tone shaping options - 5 band equalizer, amp envelope, fine-tune and portamento. You can add-in effects like delay, chorus, flanger and distortion. A unique feature of this plugin is its 2 oscillators with 134 waveforms and wave-draw options to help you make unique guitar sounds. Finally it allows for MIDI automation and velocity response. Available for Windows.
RS Stomp Box Collection
Retro Sampling Stomp Box Collection is a bundle of distortion stomp boxes in plugin format. It comes with the four distinct distortion effect flavors, the first two provide classic overdrive sounds - RS Recreate is a standard overdrive while RS Require adds more bite. The other two emulates distortion, with RS Stomp Sweep gives you high gain distortion with a weird hiss and the RS Stomp Twister adds a more punch to the voicing. To round up the bundle, it comes with RS Aqua Marine for a clean sound. All the effects have auto panning feature, a worthy add to anyone's collection of free plugins. Available for Windows.
Amplifikation Lite is the free version of Kuassa Amplifikation One. It is based on one of the amps of the commercial software and aims to showcase its impressive amp emulation sound. What makes this a cool plugin is its sheer plug and play simplicity - a straight forward virtual amp with three channels and intuitive parameters. You can select between Free, Rhythm and Lead channels. You can shape your tone by adjusting parameters which include Gain, Bass, Midle, Treble, Presence, Volume, Cabinet switch and others. Sample rate quality goes up to 96 kHz and it has a built-in Cabinet impulse response loader for realistic cabinet sounds. Available for Windows and Mac OS X.
Best Guitar Effects Software
See GuitarSite.com's report on the Best Overdrive Pedals here.
And check out their recommended gifts for guitarists here.
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