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 70s saw many musicians like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock using the Rhodes because of its unique sound. In 1987, it was sold to Roland, who produced digital versions of the sound. Now, you can find many VST plugins to emulate the warm, lush sound of a Rhodes piano.
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 piano emulation, 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.
Although this is at a higher price point, the V-Collection includes many other legendary piano and synth sounds. So, 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 piano quality and celebrates its imperfections, highlighting its character. The sampling process for this plugin was designed to “capture the non-linearity of the keys,” according to Waves.
You can create modifications to the sound with the ‘mix’ control. The sounds can be customized with transpositions, 3-band EQ adjustments, and effects like tremolo, auto-pan, phaser, chorus, and reverb. The plugin also has an amp and a compressor to fine-tune your mix.
The Electric 88 is compatible with major DAWs on Windows and macOS machines. You can also use it as a standalone instrument.
3. Native Instruments Scarbee Mark I
If you use MASCHINE by Native Instruments, this is the ideal plugin to get that classical Electric Piano sound. 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. Plus, effect choices are 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
The Lounge Lizard EP-4 by Applied Acoustics Systems is based entirely on physical modeling for accurate sounds. It is one of the most popular piano VSTs around, and it shines with its dynamic range.
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
Addictive Keys MKI Rhodes was sampled with a Music Man 112 RD Combo Amp through a Telefunken U47 Tube Condenser, a Coles 4038 Ribbon, and a Shure SM57 Dynamic mic. 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 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
Velvet gives you access to 5 vintage piano sounds: Fender Rhodes Suitcase, Fender Rhodes MKI and MKII Stage Pianos, Wurlitzer 200A, and Hohner Pianet-T. All of these pianos are legendary in their own right and a great option for you if you are looking for that typical 60s and 70s sound.
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 want something other than a dedicated controller for electric piano tones.
The plugin is available in 64 and 32-bit for Windows and macOS machines.
7. Clavia Lab
The Clavia Lab by Simple Media is a 32-bit hybrid analog and physically modeled electric piano for Windows machines.
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 fine-tune your sound accurately.
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 cannot run it on their machines.
8. MDA ePiano
This is a simple and easy-to-use electric piano plugin ideal for beginners. If you want a good Rhodes plugin with great sound but limited features, this is the one for you.
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. 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
Like most of NoiseAsh’s products, the Suitcase, too, is a ready-to-mix instrument. This means that you don’t have to spend time adjusting any controls to get that vintage analog sound. This can be helpful for beginners looking for an easy-to-use Rhodes plugin.
However, you can adjust the tone 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. Plus, the NoiseAsh suitcase is compatible with both Windows and macOS machines.
10. GSi MrRay 73
This is a great option if you are looking for a plugin that allows dynamic playing. MrRay 73 is a Rhodes Mark I emulation plugin that uses the piano’s imperfections to capture its essence.
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 feature 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.
What is the Rhodes Piano?
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 hit song ‘Riders On The Storm.’
In the late 80’s, Roland bought it to create digital versions of the sounds, which made it even more popular. After that point, the Rhodes sounds were used in almost every genre.
Although the instrument was reissued in the 2000s, they are expensive and rare. But thanks to the technology, you can now download a plugin that emulates the warm, lush sound of a Rhodes to perfection.
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.
If you want something simple and don’t intend to use the plugin, then go for one of the free ones. After all, a new addition to your library can come in handy someday.