Today’s edition of bpb Freeware Studio features a list of the best free guitar amp sim VST/AU plugins for Windows and Mac.
The list below is split in two parts – the main section with my favorite plugins and the bonus section which features some older or more peculiar plugins which are still pretty cool and definitely worth checking out.
IMPORTANT: Please keep in mind that some of the amp sims listed below come without built-in cab sims. That is like listening to a guitar straight through the amp, without using a cabinet. Which is actually a good thing, since it gives you the opportunity to use your favorite virtual guitar amp with your favorite cabinet.
I will soon be publishing a list of free guitar cab sims and IR loaders. Until then, I advise you to install LeCab2 or NadIR (both are zero latency and work well for tracking and live performances) and pair them up with the IRs listed in BPB’s round-up of the best free guitar cabinet impulse responses. Place the cabinet emulation after your virtual guitar amp and jam away!
Follow the links for screenshots & download info:
- 7170/8505 by Nick Crow (Windows)
- Amplifikation Lite by Kuassa Amplifikation (Mac, Windows)
- ampLion Free by Audiffex (Mac, Windows)
- AmpliTube 3 FREE by IK Multimedia (Mac, Windows)
- Boogex by Voxengo (Windows)
- Dirthead by Ndzeit (Windows)
- Guitar Amp 2 by Plektron (Windows)
- Guitar Rig 5 Player by Native Instruments (Mac, Windows)
- Juicy77 by BTE Audio (Windows)
- LePou Plugins by Poulin Amplification (Mac, Windows)
- NRR-1/The Anvil by Ignite Amps (Mac, Windows)
- POD Farm™ FREE by Line 6 (Windows)
- REVOLUTIONZ by Ronald Passion (Windows)
- Shred by AcmeBarGig (Windows)
- SimulAnalog Guitar Suite by SimulAnalog (Windows)
- TSE X50 by TSE Plugins (Windows)
Extended list: Amps, AradazAmp2, Brackenbury-1 Tube Amplifier, British Valve Custom, California Sun, Combo, Cortex Stack, Extremist, GreenMachine Amp II, NoAmp!, Pink, Saro, ScorchCrafter C120, Slego, SoftAmp GT, Soldano SLO-X88, Torpedo PI-FREE, Tube Amp.
HyBrit and SoloC are my two favorite Poulin Amplification plugins, but pretty much everything in the LePou Plugins series sounds absolutely amazing! That’s why I’ve simply included them all in the list and I recommend you to try them all. Definitely among the best free amp sims out there!
TSE X50 by TSE Plugins is a freeware emulation of the Peavey 5150+ guitar amp with a fantastic sound and some pretty cool features like changeable tubes! The plugin is still in beta, but this doesn’t affect the functionality apart from a somewhat higher CPU hit.
Plektron has done an amazing job with the free edition of their Guitar Amp 2 virtual guitar amplifier. It is a superb little effects suite for guitarists, with great sound and enough features to make high quality guitar tracks. It comes with a built-in british amp, a cabinet simulator, several effects, and also features a full blown bass amp!
NRR-1 and The Anvil are two brilliant freeware guitar amp sims developed by Ignite Amps. The Anvil is basically my number one choice for cleaner tones (although it has a great high gain tone, too!). The clean channel sounds very convincing and you can hardly beat it when paired up with a proper cabinet IR. NRR-1 works great on high gain settings.
AcmeBarGig have been perfecting their guitar amp sim programming skills over the years and the Shred suite is their current flagship plugin. It is a collection of six unique guitar amp heads which you can combine and create your own FrankenAmp.
Amplitube 3 FREE, Guitar Rig 5 Player and POD Farm™ FREE are free versions of well-known commercial guitar amp simulation plugin suites. When going for classic guitar tones, I do prefer using individual amp sims and cabinet impulse responses – but when I’m in the mood for experimenting and building crazy effect chains, these three plugins and their built-in amps and pedals are great fun to work with!
I must also mention the SimulAnalog Guitar Suite which used to be THE freeware guitar amp simulation suite until a few years ago. The competition is much larger nowadays, but it’s still a very cool set of plugins with decent guitar sound and ultimate ease of use.
There are many demos on YouTube showing most of the amp sims listed above in action – I’ve selected this one by CharlesOnABoat, showing what NRR-1 can do:
And that’s all for today! What are you favorite guitar amp sims? Favorite guitar cab IRs? Any secret tips you’d like to share with us? Leave your answers in the comments section below!
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