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The 9 Best Guitar VST Plugins – Free and Paid Options

Want to expand your guitar recording options but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on physical gear? No problem! Getting a good guitar VST plugin is a great alternative for all those who seek decent guitar tones.

Of course, the sound quality usually can’t match the sound of physical units but in most cases, you will be able to get more than decent tones, especially if the recording is your main concern.

There are a lot of decent guitar plugins available. Many of them feature pretty impressive sound quality and come with tons of features. However, such plugins are usually paid. If you don’t want to spend any money on a piece of software like this, there is still a wide offer of free plugins that can provide you with decent tones and a fine number of useful features.

We have picked some of the best guitar VST plugins around and the following list includes both free and paid options.

1. Guitar Rig 5 – Paid

Guitar Rig 5

From a product that comes from Native Instruments, you can expect nothing but great overall quality. This is one of the best-known names among guitar VST plugins, which has been around for many years. Of course, the company has been updating the plugin constantly, so the newest version comes as Guitar Rig 5.

The amount of features you get with this plugin is pretty impressive. You may count on a wide choice of amps, cabinets, and effects. All of them sound pretty good and closely resemble original units. Although you won’t find the exact names of original units, you will instantly recognize them thanks to excellent graphics.

You can also get a free version of Guitar Rig 5, which includes some of the most basic tones. Of course, the real fun starts with the paid version, but this is a great way to see how this plugin actually works.

  • Wide range of amp and FX tones
  • Free version available
  • Easy to use

Check It Out: Guitar Rig 5

2. Ample Guitar M Lite – Free

Ample Guitar M Lite

While most guitar plugins are all about amps and effects for electric guitar, this plugin emulates the sound of acoustic guitar. It does the job pretty well and also comes with a couple of additional features, such as certain effects, or doubling the guitar option. This small and simple plugin is definitely something you should try.

  • One of the rare acoustic simulator plugins
  • Decent sound quality
  • A couple of more features would be nice

Download: Ample Guitar M Lite

3. Amplitube 4 – Paid

Amplitube 4

Here is another legendary name among guitar plugins. This piece of software has been around for decades and it is known for its excellent tones, wide range of amps and effects, as well as for the easiness of use. The current version is Amplitube 4.

Once you purchase the Amplitube 4, you have a choice of 9 amps, 10 cabinets, and a dozen effects. However, that’s not all. The real fun starts with the “Custom Shop”, where you can buy all kinds of amps and effects, including emulations of some of the most iconic pieces of gear. Moreover, you can also buy presets that emulate the sounds of legendary guitar players.

Amplitube 4 also includes an 8-track recorder and a Looper.

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Easy to use
  • Loads of additional features
  • Additional tones cost a extra

Check It Out: Amplitube 4

4. Line 6 Helix Native – Paid

Line 6 Helix Native

Guitar players know very well what Helix name means in the world of guitar effects. The legendary guitar processor has been a household name for years and it is still one of the leaders in the business. It now also comes in the form of a plugin.

While the graphics and overall interface may look boring, the sound quality is impressive, probably the best among guitar plugins. Not only that you get excellent sound quality, but you can also count on an impressive collection of amps and effects. There are 62 amp models, 37 cabinets and 104 effects, which is one of the biggest collections around.

Given all the tones you get, it’s no wonder that the price is pretty high.

  • The plugin version of the legendary guitar processor
  • Impressive sound quality
  • Impressive collections of amps and effects
  • Uninspiring interface

Check It Out: Line 6 Helix Native

5. Positive Grid BIAS FX2 – Paid

Positive Grid BIAS FX2

Here is another piece of software that comes with an impressive sound library. The exact amount of amp and FX simulations depends on how much money you want to spend. The most expensive Elite version comes with 100 amps and 100 effects, while you can also download hundreds of additional effects on their online community.

Still, that main reason why this plugin stands out is the Guitar Match feature. This feature analyses your guitar tone and can transform it into one of 18 legendary guitars. Getting a Telecaster tone from a Les Paul has never been more convenient.

  • Unparalleled amp and FX collection
  • Guitar Match can turn your axe into any guitar

Check It Out: Positive Grid BIAS FX2

6. Waves GTR3 – Paid

Waves GTR3

The GTR3 actually comes as four separate plugins. There is a GTR3 Amp plugin that comes with 25 guitar amps, 7 bass amps, 2 cabinets and 2 microphones. The second plugin is called GTR3 Stomps, where you can find 26 stompbox effects.

The GTR3 Tuner is also useful, while the fourth, GTR3 Toolbox is where you can upload tones from previous plugins. You can add 2 amps, 6 effects and a tuner to this plugin.

The Waves GTR3 has a couple of strong points, starting from a quite attractive price. Also, you may count on nice graphics and easy navigation.

  • Looks great, sounds great
  • Affordable price

Check It Out: Waves GTR3

7. Ignite Amps Emissary – Free

Ignite Amps Emissary

Things are pretty simple here, as this plugin emulates nothing more than a single amp. You may lack quantity, but you definitely won’t lack quality. This is a two-channel amp, primarily designed for heavy tones.

You can also get a 3-channel version, which besides clean and hi-gain tones also offers an Overdrive channel and makes this plugin a little bit more versatile.

  • Good sound quality
  • Easy to use
  • Just a single amp emulator

Download Ignite Amps Emissary

8. AmpLion – Free

AmpLion

The thing with free guitar plugins is that it’s always better to get one with fewer sound options but better sound quality. AmpLion is definitely a good choice. Things are quite simple here, as you get an amp emulator with 5 channels and two cabinets.

Additionally, you may count on things like a metronome, audio player, recorder, etc. Furthermore, you can download a nice number of great-sounding presets.

Also, a good thing to know is that AmpLion works both as a plugin and a standalone app.

  • Decent sound quality
  • 5 channels look pretty versatile
  • Lots of downloadable presets

Download AmpLion

9. LePou Amp Pack – Free

LePou Amp Pack

If you’re looking for great hi-gain tones, this is the plugin for you. Although this company doesn’t work anymore, you can still get their plugins. This one comes with a couple of amp emulators and they actually sound pretty good. You will also like its straightforward design, which ensures a super-convenient user experience. The only drawback is that amp and cabinet emulators come as separate plugins, so you will have to download them both.

  • Good sound quality
  • Easy to use
  • Amp and Cabinets come as separate plugins

Download LePou Amp Pack

Conclusion

Whether you want to pay for them or not, guitar plugins can be very useful for music production. All plugins offer pretty decent quality, while some of them are pretty versatile as well.

You will get better quality with the paid plugins above, but the free software can be a good starting point.  If you have the budget for a good plugin or two, the above paid choices above are all great options.

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