The 10 Best Bass Guitar VST Plugins of 2023 (Free & Paid)
Getting a good recording of a bass guitar can often be difficult, but it’s even harder to find a plugin that realistically emulates a bass guitar without sounding too inorganic.
While there are several VSTs for bass synthesizers available, most musicians are hesitant to use bass guitar plugins because of the concern that they will sound synthetic.
A good bass plugin will generate the warm sounds we associate with the low-end on an acoustic or electric bass guitar, without being too bulky on your computer. So, if you have been looking for a good plugin for bass, here is my list of the top free and paid ones available:
1. Ample Bass P Lite II by Ample Sounds- Free
Although there is also a paid version, the free one has essential bass features such as fingering noise, sustain, hammer on and pull off, and accent. This makes it perfect to turn a MIDI line into a realistic-sounding bass.
With the ‘Tab Player’ you can load and play tablatures of different songs. This can be a handy tool for beginners who do not necessarily play the bass.
This VST supports 64-bit in Windows and macOS machines. It can be used as standalone software or as a VST2, VST3, AU, or AAX plugin for a DAW.
2. OMB1 by Samsara Cycle Audio (Free)
Once you select from the 4 different styles, you can adjust the tone and volume like you would on the guitar and then make changes to the amp settings such as level, distortion, attack, decay, sustain, and release. There is also a pickup position slider that lets you make additional adjustments to your tone.
Whether you are familiar with the anatomy of a bass guitar or are interested in learning about the different components and how they affect the tone, this plugin is a good way to learn the basics of the instrument.
It is available as 32-bit for Windows users.
3. Bass Module by Max Synths (Free)
The Bass Module also includes a chorus and a dynamic processor to help tweak the bass frequencies to your liking.
Overall, it is a light plugin that occupies only 101MB of space on your computer. However, the only drawback is that it is only available for Windows users at 32-bit.
4. 4 Front Bass by George Yohng (Free)
It is based on the concept of reproducing the timbre of a bass guitar and you can use your MIDI controller to trigger or play different notes.
While it is CPU-friendly and available for both macOS and Windows users, one needs a plugin hosting software such as Cantabile to run it.
5. Modo Bass by IK Multimedia (Paid)
Once you select your bass model, you can choose your pickup configuration and the plugin offers 20 models to choose from. There are 7 different effects pedals and 2 amp models to help customize your sound further. You can switch between the 3 different playing styles (pluck, slap, and pick) for a realistic sound.
The plugin is available in 64-bit for both macOS and Windows users.
6. Trilian 1.5: Total Bass Module by Spectrasonics (Paid)
You can choose between different playing techniques such as fretless, fingered, slapped, tapped, muted, and picked.
With a resizable GUI, it integrates seamlessly with your DAW of choice and if are familiar with Omnisphere, then this plugin offers the same synthesis functions that most are used to.
Each patch has its custom controls with settings such as filters, FM mods, compressor, etc. that can you use to find your ideal sound. There is also an arpeggiator with different patterns and chord voicings to help you develop new and interesting melodies.
The plugin is available in 64-bit for both Windows and macOS users.
7. Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass by Native Instruments (Paid)
Since the original bass guitar was known for its clear mid-range sound and was often played with a pick by musicians, this software rendition of it aims to recreate just that.
You can shape your tone by tweaking the amp models that have different controls such as bass, mid, treble, presence, etc. If you make pop or rock music, then this plugin should be a good fit for you.
However, this is a Kontakt instrument and you need the full version of it to be able to run this with the DAW of your choice. A free version of the software is available for trial for both Windows and macOS users.
8. Bass Packs by Ilya Efrimov Production (Paid)
The ‘Rock Bass’ emulates the sound of a Sadowsky NYC 5-string bass played with a pick and you can choose between different articulations such as palm-mute, slap, and pick. The ‘Modern Bass’ bundle emulates the Canadian F-Bass 5 string, while the ‘Classic Bass’ is an emulation of the Fender 1972 Precision bass.
They also have a fretless bass with three non-dominant hand positions such as normal, soft, and jaco. Lastly, the ‘Retro Bass’ pack is an emulation of the 1952 Fender Bass.
You can choose between many legato or open string modes in all these bundles and there is also a ‘Chord Detection’ mode which can be a handy tool for some.
While the bundles can be used by both Windows and macOS users, one needs the full and unlocked version of Kontakt to run them.
9. Chris Hein Bass by Chris Hein (Paid)
You can switch it up between an electric bass picked or slapped, a fretless bass, an upright nylon string, an upright steel string, or an upright gut string. There are 42 articulations in one preset with up to 8 velocities.
There are 4 different modes such as chord or strumming, legato, and slide to best fit the tone you require for your music.
It occupies around 12.7GB of memory and needs a Kontakt player to run.
10. Ample Bass Yinyang by Ample Sounds (Paid)
Modeled after Victor Wooten’s Fodera Yinyang bass, the samples have a rich fingering noise that is associated with Wooten’s style of playing. You can choose between different techniques such as hammer-on and off, sustain, palm mute, slap, pop, tap, and many different kinds of legato playing styles.
There are 3 amp models to choose from and each has its customizable settings such as mic models, cabinets, and room mics. Apart from that, you can shape your sound using the FX such as compression, echo, reverb, and an 8-band EQ.
The plugin can be used as standalone software or as VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX by both macOS and Windows users.
If you do not have access to a bass guitar, then the plugins on this list are the next best thing. While bass synths are versatile instruments, certain genres may require a more realistic bass sound to make your vision come to life.
For those who want to experiment with new sounds, you can try some of the free VSTs and explore them for your next project. But if you already have a rock, metal, pop, country, etc. sound in mind then it is best to invest in a paid one.