Best FREE VST Instruments


When it comes to free VST instruments, there are tons of free options out there, but only a handful of instrument plugins stands above the rest.

Not all VST plugins are made equal. You need to make sure you’re using high-quality virtual instruments if you want to keep your music production on a pro-level.

To make sure you don’t have to scroll through pages and pages of Google searches, we’ve put together a list of the best of the best free VST instruments on the web.

These are must-have instrument plugins for beginners and music producers who are setting up their DAW for the first time.

FREE VST Instruments (2022 Update)

  • Vital
  • Surge
  • Tyrell N6
  • LABS
  • BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Komplete Start
  • Decent Sampler + Pianobook Libraries
  • Grace


Vital by Matt Tytel

Vital is an incredible free synthesizer, by Matt Tytel, with a refreshingly well-designed take on wavetable synthesis.

First and foremost, Vital is a pleasure to use! The interface is simply beautiful to look at, and you get instant visual feedback for most controls in Vital.

Hands down, the most exciting feature about Vital is the Spectral Oscillator Warping, which can give tons of character to your patches. Spectral Warping directly acts on the harmonics of a waveform, allowing you to create unique timbres and movements with Vital.

Vital is quite well known now, and there are tons of great Preset packs and tutorials you can use.

With a beautiful interface, tons of modulation and control, MPE Support, and lots more, Vital is a very capable and deep synthesizer. Yet, at the same time, Vital manages to be sleek and easy to use, so for a list free virtual instruments, Vital is a no-brainer.

More info: Vital (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/LV2 plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)

Surge XT

Surge XT

Surge XT is a hybrid open-source synthesizer, and it’s probably one of our all-time favorite free synth VST plugins.

For those familiar with the original Surge synthesizer, everything you love is still there with Surge XT but wrapped up in a more streamlined package than ever!

The main interface of Surge XT contains what they call two “scenes,” which are essentially two instances of the same synthesis engine. In more colloquial terms, it’s essentially like two synths in one, letting you make complex split patches or layer them together.

With three oscillators per scene and 12 oscillators on offer, it’s safe to say you’ll be hard-pressed to run out of options with Surge XT.

With super powerful filters, expansive modulation, and deep routing, Surge XT is a dream come true for the sound designers out there.

While Surge XT is not as easy to use as Vital, the possibilities you get with Surge are nearly limitless.

More info: Surge XT (64-bit VST3/AU plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)

Tyrell N6

Tyrell N6 by U-He

Tyrell N6 started as a hardware synthesizer blueprint designed by forum members.

Manufacturing a hardware synthesizer is extremely complicated, though. Thankfully, U-He stepped in to make a free VST instrument based on the blueprint. What came out of this collaboration is probably one of the best software synthesizers ever made.

Unlike more modern software synths like Vital and Surge, Tyrell N6 is a good old “virtual analog” synthesizer.

Made to look and function like an analog hardware synth, Tyrell N6 hits all the sweet spots for those of us who are analog nerds.

That being said, Tyrell N6 is way more than just another analog synth plugin. The variety and nuance of analog-like sound you can get out of this virtual instrument is almost overwhelming.

Not even kidding; we’ve spent hours just exploring and enjoying the different soundscapes and sonics this thing is capable of.

While the Tyrell N6 doesn’t have infinite oscillators or ultra-sonic extra-dimensional filterbanks, the simplicity of its analog architecture is what makes the N6 such a banger of a synthesizer.

Download: Tyrell N6 (32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)


LABS by Spitfire Audio

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a pro who can afford expensive plugins. Everyone needs to get Spitfire Audio LABS. It’s just that good.

LABS is a hub for the free LABS instruments you can download from Spitfire Audio’s website. The outstanding quality of the freely downloadable expansion packs is what makes LABS this good.

Each free pack is unique and so full of character that there is nothing out there that can replace LABS. The sounds you can download for LABS range from atmospheric strings to textures, rare instruments, strange arpeggios, and way more.

That said, sometimes we wish that there was a little more control over the sounds you get, which is probably our only gripe with the whole thing.

But individual control aside, the sheer quality of the sound libraries that LABS offers are irreplaceable, and you need to get on this train right now.

Download: LABS (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)

Spitfire Audio BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover

BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover by Spitfire Audio

The second entry from Spitfire Audio product on this list, BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover, should be in everyone’s virtual instrument collection.

This free instrument VST features 33 orchestral instruments recorded from the incredible BBC Symphony Orchestra. Using the most advanced sampling technology out there, Spitfire Audio has brought out some of the best orchestral sounds you’ll ever find

The BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover has everything you’ll need to start writing compelling orchestral arrangements, from violins to horns, percussion, and more.

The plugin is straightforward to use and sounds world-class, truly one of the best orchestral collections ever made.

If you’d like to get BBC Symphony Orchestra for FREE, you’ll have to sign up and go through a 14-day waiting list. You can also purchase it for $55 to get instant access.

Download: BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS)

Komplete Start

Komplete Start by Native Instruments

Native Instruments are, by now, one of the most famous names in music production software. Their expansive Komplete ecosystem is one of the most easily recognizable collections of plugins, effects, and virtual instruments.

While the entire Komplete offering will run you way north of a thousand dollars, you can get started (ha!) with Komplete Start for free.

Komplete Start offers Komplete Kontrol, Kontakt 6 Player, Reaktor 6 Player, as well as a selection of Kontakt libraries, Reaktor-powered virtual synthesizers, and several FX plugins.

So, you’re getting two free instrument VST plugins with Komplete Start: Kontakt Player and Reaktor Player.

Easily the most popular and universally beloved digital sampler ever, Native Instruments Kontakt 6 is a mainstay in modern production studios.

And for a good reason.

The user gets tons of control over every Kontakt instrument. Kontakt offers a vast selection of sample customization tools, built-in effects, different performance modes, and more.

However, the freeware version of Kontakt isn’t perfect. Kontakt Player does lack some crucial features that would put it higher on our list.

Most importantly, Kontakt Player is only compatible with a handful of sound packs, all of which you’ll find in our free Kontakt libraries article. Also, the instrument editing, sample editing, effects, and filter sections are inaccessible if you aren’t using the full version of Kontakt.

Apart from that, Komplete Start is a fantastic way to get started with the Native Instruments ecosystem.

Thanks to the freely available libraries like Kontakt Factory Selection and Project Sam, the Kontakt Player is one of the best VST instruments on the market.

Download: Komplete Start (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS)

Decent Sampler + Pianobook Libraries

Decent Sampler

Decent Sampler is precisely what it says on the tin. It’s a decent little sampler plugin that’s easy to use. It’s also one of the best free VST instruments you can download at the moment.

Another aspect worth highlighting is Decent Sampler’s die-hard user community. The users are creating new patches, sounds, and instruments all the time, expanding the Decent Sampler ecosystem.

The Decent Sampler plugin alone is as lightweight and streamlined as possible. However, combined with the free instrument libraries available from various sources (such as the Pianobook project), Decent Sampler instantly transforms into an extraordinary virtual instrument.

The instrument libraries available on Pianobook range from experimental textures and ambiances to wavetables to sounds from Chinese ceramic tables.

Indeed one of the best FREE instrument VST packages available, you should check out Decent Sampler and Pianobook as soon as you can!

Download: Decent Sampler (32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux, and iOS)


Grace by One Small Clue

If you’re looking for a VST instrument that will let you twist and mangle your own samples, take a look at Grace by One Small Clue.

Grace is a powerful sampler plugin with many excellent features like drag-and-drop support, SFZ patch import, a sample browser, and audio preview. It offers many modulation options, including AHDSR envelopes, LFO modules, and a modulation matrix.

The only drawback is that Grace is only compatible with Windows-based digital audio workstations. If you’re on Windows, Grace is definitely a VST instrument you should add to your collection.

More info: Grace (32-bit & 64-bit VST2 plugin format for Windows)

Best FREE VST Instruments – Bonus Section

The VST instruments listed above are what we believe are the best FREE instrument plugins out there.

On the other hand, there’s an enormous amount of free VST instruments you can download. You can spend days downloading virtual instruments and installing them in your DAW.

But no matter what, knowing one instrument VST plugin inside out will get you further than having 30 synths you don’t know how to use. That’s why we wanted to keep this article short and give you the must-have free virtual instruments.

If you want more choices, here are a few more instrument plugins you could check out.

  • Dexed – A well-made and faithful clone of the Yamaha DX7 FM synthesizer
  • VCV Rack – Digital modular environment with a lot of available modules.
  • TAL NoiseMaker – Super capable 3-oscillator synth, perfect for evolving pads
  • Highlife – A free sampler that lets you sample other virtual instruments.
  • Piano One – A physically-modeled piano instrument.
  • SSD5 – The easiest way to add acoustic drums to your music.
  • PG-8X – One of the best free virtual analog synthesizers.
  • FB-7999 – A fantastic virtual hybrid synthesizer by Full Bucket Music.

Want even more options? Read our articles about piano VST plugins, synthesizer VST plugins, and sampler VST plugins.

We’re looking forward to hearing your suggestions and tips in the comments section below.

For more freeware effects and instruments, return to our Free VST Plugins page.

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About Author

This article was written by two or more BPB staff members.


  1. Thank you for all the hard work! On a side note, a wider list of “real” sample-based or modelled instruments would be nice. Not that I have something against synth =)

    • unfortunately i do believe these are more difficult to come by.
      everything is either sampled by some random dude, or it’s “light” versions of paid products, so you get way less articulations, etc.
      “free synth” make more sense as a category, since these really can compete with paid products – vital can damn near stand side by side to serum – the free u-he synth, despite not trying to emulate something specific, can “compete” with some arturia emus, etc. so it’s not like you’re missing out on anything with these.
      with free “real” instrument plugins however you are almost always missing out.
      that being said, i’d love to see this list also
      would also see a roundup from BPB of best free effect effect plugins moving into 2022

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      That’s definitely on my to-do list. It will include sample players like Kontakt Player, Sampletank Free, LABS, and romplers like Ample Guitar M Lite, SSD5, etc. Coming soon. :)

  2. Thanks for this update info :-)
    I think you should update the link in the post about Tyrell to point to this page, which holds the latest version of that plug:

  3. This is great timing.

    I’ve been having problems with vembers shortcircuit sampler since I updated windows, and was about to go looking for a replacement, preferably free.

    Stumbled upon this page by chance, found Grace, and now I needn’t look any further for now. :)

    Thanks, hopefully it’s a solid replacement to vembers.

    • Hey shortcircut was released in v2.01 as free beta by the same comunity that stands behind surge xt and it’s 64bit as well.So no waste was made.That said it’s worth having both Grace and Shortcircut – (Grace is perfect for more melodic material such as sampled instruments like synths and guitars where Shortcircut is spot on with drums and more orchiestral libraries).
      I personally love Grace for it’s very inuitive filter section and multisample capabilities for single patch creation
      (just like Surge XT’s scenes).
      And Shortcircut is just massive in terms of using grouped libs :)

  4. It’s again a great selection of free virtual instruments listed in this article. But it does not contain any of these great Full Bucket Music synths. Worth mentioning that pianobook contains some free sfz libraries as well, and that you might get some hundreds of instruments more if you just decide to get the full Kontakt version preferably via one of these crossgrade options (which might be no information for a freeware blog, I confess).

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      Hi Johannes, thanks for the tips! I will add Full Bucket Music to the Bonus Section. However, the idea is to keep the main list short. This article provides a must-have selection of instrument VST plugins for new producers. I think it’s better to download a handful of excellent plugins first, learn how to use those, and then expand your plugin arsenal later on if needed. I know I spent loads of time testing hundreds of free plugins back in the day, instead of making music, so I want to help new producers not make the same mistake. :)

  5. It’s worth a mention that Highlife is only free for non-commercial use, and that only the older, 32bit version (Highlife 1.4) can sample other VSTis. Highlife 1.3 is the newer version (last updated on 2014) and has 64-bit support, but won’t sample VSTis.

  6. Kinda dissapointing how I can’t really use any heavy metal sounds in my tracks without spending money. I am unable to find any free heavy metal guitar plugins.

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