The 10 Best Rhodes VST Plugins of 2023 (Free and Paid Options)
Rhodes pianos have quite an iconic sound, and thankfully, there are plenty of great rhodes VST plugins that can help you achieve that sound in your tracks.
The Rhodes piano was invented by Harold Rhodes and in 1959, he entered a joint venture with Leo Fender. The Rhodes thus came to be known as the Fender Rhodes piano.
While it quickly became a favorite among jazz musicians such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, the Rhodes was also used extensively by Ray Manzarek of the Doors and can be heard on their song ‘Riders On The Storm’.
The 70s saw many musicians using the Rhodes because of its unique sound and in 1987, the company was sold to Roland who produced digital versions of the sound.
Although the instrument was reissued in the 2000s, they are expensive and rare. But thanks to technology, you can now download a plugin that emulates the warm, lush sound of a Rhodes to perfection.
Here is our list of top paid and free Rhodes VST plugins:
1. Arturia Stage-73 V
The Stage-73 V plugin is modeled after the Fender Rhodes Suitcase Piano and the Stage Piano. You can even choose between the 1973 and the 1974 models for the latter.
Apart from the emulation of the piano, you can also set up your pedalboard and an amp to customize your sound.
The plugin is compatible with both Windows and macOS machines and is available in 64-bit. You can use it either as standalone software with a MIDI keyboard or with your DAW.
There is a slight learning curve to the software but if you have used any other Arturia products like the Analog Lab or other versions of the V collection, this one should be pretty easy to navigate through.
Although this is on a higher price point, the V-Collection also includes many other equally legendary piano and synth sounds. So at the end of the day, it is still a great purchase whether you are a singer-songwriter, an electronic musician, or just like the sound of a Rhodes.
2. Waves Electric 88
The Electric 88 by Waves emulates this vintage quality of the piano and celebrates its imperfections. The sampling process for this plugin was designed to “capture the non-linearity of the keys”, according to Waves.
One can make modifications to the sound by using the ‘mix’ control. The sounds can be transposed and additionally, there are effects such as tremolo, auto-pan, phaser, chorus, and reverb. You can EQ the sound using the bass, mid and treble controls.
The plugin also has an amp and a compressor to fine-tune your mix.
The Electric 88 is compatible with DAWs on Windows and macOS machines. You can also use it as a standalone instrument.
3. Native Instruments Scarbee Mark I
Made by Thomas Scarbee, the plugin focuses on a single instrument to give you a realistic emulation of the original instrument.
All 73 keys of this plugin were sampled in 12 different velocities, which adds a more human feel to your playing.
You have access to effects such as reverb, chorus, phaser, amp simulation, auto wah-wah, distortion, pan, compression, delay, bass, and treble.
While the plugin is easy to use and compatible with both Windows and macOS machines, you do need to have Kontakt or the free Kontakt Player to run it with the DAW of your choice.
4. Lounge Lizard EP-4
While you can choose from 100 custom presets, you can make multiple modifications to your sound by controlling the real-time hammer hardness, tone color and decay, damper noise, and pickup placement.
Additionally, the new and updated version of Lounge Lizard has a compressor and equalizer, to add definition to your sound so it can cut through a mix. The ‘character control’ has five classic studio and stage signal path emulations (cabinet, pre-amp, microphone, and recorder chain) to emulate the piano’s output.
The Lounge Lizard is compatible with nearly all DAWs on Windows and macOS machines.
5. Addictive Keys MKI Rhodes
But not just the amp, the samples are also a product of room recordings, direct outputs, and even the acoustic strings.
This results in a warm and accurate sound that captures the essence of the Rhodes. This elaborate sampling process of the acoustic instrument is what sets this plugin apart, from a host of available options.
The plugin is available in VST, AAX (32 and 64 bit), and as a standalone application. It is compatible with most DAWs on Windows as well as macOS machines.
6. Air Music Technology Velvet 2
Apart from the 350 presets and sound customization options, the MIDI Learn function automatically maps the plugin to your MIDI controller. This can be very helpful if you have a portable setup and do not want a dedicated controller for just the electric piano tones.
The plugin is available in 64 and 32 bit for Windows and macOS machines. However, you do need a working internet connection to download and authorize it on your computer. You also need to set up your free iLock account and License Manager to authorize the software.
7. Clavia Lab
You can modify your sound by tweaking the source, amplifier, and modulation. The parameters let you have plenty of control over the dynamics and tone. The knobs have 120 steps and can be used to accurately fine-tune your sound.
The VU meter is an indicator of tone distortion. This can be helpful if you do not have a deep understanding of audio engineering.
Unfortunately, since this plugin is available only in 32-bit for Windows machines, macOS users will not be able to run this on their machines.
8. MDA ePiano
The plugin is based on 12 Rhodes samples and has a 1-32 voice polyphony.
It has controls such as decay, release, and stereo width. Since there is a velocity sensitivity, you can use your MIDI controller to record or perform live with it. The muffling filter is a great tool that ensures your output sound is not distorted.
This plugin is ideal for those looking for a no-frills Rhodes plugin. It is compatible with both Windows and macOS machines.
9. NoiseAsh Suitcase
However, you can make adjustments to the tone as needed using the bass boost, bell, and modulation effects which include pan, tremolo, and pitch.
It has a resizable GUI and is light on CPU usage.
The NoiseAsh suitcase is compatible with both Windows and macOS machines.
10. GSi MrRay 73
If you are looking for a plugin that allows dynamic playing, then this is a great option. It has velocity sensitivity so when you hit the notes hard, there is almost a vibration effect like one would get from the acoustic instrument.
The lower notes on the piano have a certain “growl” to them and it also features mallet noises, wooden noises, and metal artifacts. These are dependent on how hard or soft you play the individual notes.
The only drawback, however, is that this plugin is compatible only with Windows machines.
The Rhodes is an incredibly versatile instrument that can be used in any genre of music. If you need a plugin that has great playability and can be used as standalone software, then you may want to look into investing in Arturia’s Stage 73-V, since the V collection comes with multiple other piano sounds.
In case you want something simple and don’t intend to heavily use the plugin, then definitely go for one of the free ones. After all, a new addition to your library can come in handy someday in the future.