Are you interested in finding the best guitar VST plugins for you rig?
Would you believe me if I say it’s not always the guitar itself or amp, pedals and more that makes your instrument sound good?
Based on my experience, the use of guitar VST plugins, or Virtual Studio Technology (VST),can improve the sound quality and production of your guitar recordings and videos using built-in controls and other digital effects.
It was in 1996 when VST came along with the release of Cubase 3. VST was initially compatible with Windows Operating System, but now also with Mac.
It is a plugin software for your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) with two categories which are VST host and VST plugins.
VST 3.0 is the latest version in the market.
Think of VST plugins as investment software that can make your guitar sound like a real pro is playing!
There are different types of guitar VST plugins. It’s a matter of choosing the best one for your needs.
Read on as l share the top 20 guitar VST plugins in the market!
What is an Amp Simulator Guitar VST?
An Amp simulator (also shortened as amp sim) VST plugin allows you to run through hundreds of guitar tones on your fingertips.
An amp sim is a tool that imitates the guitar amp and gives you different ranges in a few SECONDS.
It allows you to perform efficiently, and it can naturally solve poor room acoustics which can dramatically change sound quality!
How Do You Use a Guitar VST?
Before we continue…
I know you want to know how to use a guitar VST.
Setting up depends on your computer.
In most cases, you will need an adaptor to connect the signal from the guitar to a computer.
Adaptors also come in various forms. I suggest you read the user’s manual carefully to ensure that you got the right adaptor and for quick and easy setup.
After setting up, you can now start tweaking to get the best tone.
You can also add, recreate or redesign the effects to get the perfect sound that you need.
It would help if you try the prebuilt presets to see how it sounds.
Lastly, blend the sound to achieve the best guitar sound.
Here’s how you can add VST plugin to your DAW using Studio One as the VST host:
- Click Studio One and select location.
- Click VST plugins tabs.
- Navigate to the location of the plugin by clicking ADD.Click OK and restart Studio One.
There are other VST hosts such as FL Studio, Reaper, Cakewalk, Digital Performer and more.
The 20 Best Guitar VST Plugins
So without further ado, here are the 20 best guitar VST plugins for electric and acoustic guitars.
- Positive Grid BIAS FX2
- Line6 Helix Native
- Neural DSP Archetype: Plini
- Neural DSP Archetype: Abasi
- IK Multimedia Amplitube 4
- Overloud TH-U Full
- Waves GTR3
- Waves PRS SuperModels
- Positive Grid Bias Amp 2
- Softube Metal Amp Room
- Softube Vintage Amp Room
- Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5
- Line 6 Pod Farm 2.5
- LePou Amp Pack
- Audified ampLion Pro
- Avid Eleven MK II
- Impact Shreddage 3
- Vir2 Electri6ity
- Vir2 Acou6tics
- Toneforge by JST
In this article, we’ll review each one of the guitar VST plugins to help determine which is the best for you.
I have also included clips with sound samples so you can get an idea of the quality and realism of the guitar tones.
Positive Grid BIAS FX2
Bias FX 2 is probably the best guitar VST plugin in my opinion in terms of value.
It offers hundreds of different amp sims and effects pedals that you can mix and match in one convenient package.
The user interface is the best I’ve seen in any amp simulator plugin. It’s clean, intuitive, and slick, making the learning curve seamless.
This plugin features new amps, effects and highly usable presets, which is great because it transforms sound quality and dynamics.
Another useful feature is the Guitar Match which can help you shift your favourite guitar into Strat, Tele, Gretsch, ES-335 and much more.
By far, my favorite feature is the Tone Cloud. This allows you to download user-generated and sponsored artist presets. If you’re like me, then dialing in the perfect tone is next to impossible. Tone Cloud is perfect because it allows me to easily find a preset that fits my style natively in the program without having to download and import external files. From there, you can just tweak the settings slightly to get your perfect sound.
I consider the Bias FX2 as one of my favourites as it makes it easy to explore different ranges which come handy if you are still in the process of discovering your repertoire.
Setting up the Bias FX2 is easy and there is no need for special pickups and processors.
Line 6 Helix Native
If you are a digitally-driven musician who loves to explore guitar sounds further, the Line 6 Helix Native is worth considering.
It is supported by Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) which allows you to automate Helix Native’s from your DAW using MIDI controller, which is also useful if you are a stage performer.
The Helix Native has 62 amplifiers, 37 cabinets, 104 effects and 16 microphones for pitch-shifting, harmonizing and tone amplification.
The Helix Native has a simple layout interface making it easy to edit and adjust the tone.
You can also save custom presets to the Helix library or on your computer and import it later if needed.
On the flip side, you need a reasonably good audio interface and monitor to make the most of the Helix Native.
Neural DSP Archetype: Plini
A bit of trivia:
This plugin is inspired by Plini, a successful guitarist and songwriter with exceptional instrument skills.
Archetype Plini features state of the art tube amplifier modelling with extreme accuracy.
If you are fond of live rehearsals, the Standalone feature enables you to install and integrate this plugin into your guitar quickly.
I appreciate the transparent, clean and crystal sounding because it captures the crisp sound making my guitar sound more authentic and creative.
Another feature of the Archetype Plini is the onboard 9-graphic equaliser which controls the frequency response.
It also has an adaptive cab sim module with six virtual microphones placed around the speaker system.
One more thing…
The Archetype Plini has different presets with accurate sounding, which is perfect for fast palm mute and chugging riffs.
Neural DSP Archetype: Abasi
If you want to learn some guitar playing techniques similar to Abasi’s, we present Archetype Abasi!
As the name suggests, Archetype Abasi is Tosin Abasi’s signature plugin conceived by Neural DSP.
The main highlight of this plugin is the three onboard amp models (clean, rhythm, lead) which vary the tone and dynamics of the guitar.
I appreciate the clean amp model, considering how it has made me nail down jazz and country tones without any issue over the years of playing.
The Archetype Abasi features two pedals which are Pathos (drive distortions) and Logos (compressor) pedals.
IK Multimedia Amplitube 4
Do you want to try a new amp modelling software?
IK presents Amplitube 4!
It has a hyper-realistic tone and hyper-responsive power amp speaker which makes you feel like you are playing real amp!
It features an acoustic simulator which allows you to try different guitar tones and IK patented digital tuner that can precisely tune your guitar.
Plus speaker cab rooms where you can create customisations!
Overloud TH-U Full
If you are looking for an upgrade after TH-3, here comes TH-U the brand new updated version of modelling amp by Overloud.
TH-U has more new amps, cabs, pedals, response loader and more enhanced features which set it apart from TH-3.
TH-U features a complete set of electric guitar and bass amplification tools, cab sim with microphones, pedal effects and other tools for mixing, tuning and sounding.
It has a wide selection of 200 gears that allows you to create a variety of guitar tones at your fingertips.
It has unique amps which may not be present in other amp modelling platforms including the classics and other essentials.
I have been using the licensed product, and the quality struck me.
The layout and graphics are also user-friendly, which makes it enjoyable and fun to use.
You will also appreciate the drag and drop system because it is easy to navigate.
Say hello to GTR3!
Many people claim that GTR3 is one of the easiest sounding plugins to use.
I have also talked to a few beginners, and they told how much they had appreciated the GTR3.
It is affordable, easy to use and has tons of presets for you to try out.
GTR3 has 19 guitar amps, 22 cabs, 26 stomps and seven bass amps which give amazing tone and best sounding effects.
The stompboxes allow you to choose different pedals and adjust it easily to get a good sound.
It has multiple microphone settings, presets, cabs, effects and real-time MIDI control feature.
For a starter, this is a cool plugin for learning how to manipulate sounds which can help you achieve your masterpiece.
Waves PRS SuperModels
The main highlight of PRS Supermodels are the three PRS guitar amps (PRS Archon, PRS Blue Sierra, PRS Dallas) that use Waves’ Precision Analogy technology.
PRS Archon works best with lead or crunching rhythm and provides a clean channel for different ranges.
Hit it harder to get a powerful and glorious distortion.
PRS Blue Sierra is formatted for PRS J-MOD 100 which is also rare hardware that is present in American guitar amps.
You will appreciate this feature because of the big 3D sound.
It works best with medium gain overdrive tones and can also make your guitar sound clean.
Lastly, if you like the sound of classic American reverb amps, PRS Dallas can help you with that!
It is ideal for solid low and mid-range tones as it produces an open classic tone with different variations and natural-sounding reverb.
Waves PRS Supermodels has eight cab speakers IRS with Smart Mix for controlling the volume when using the cab speakers.
The PRS Supermodels are one of my favourites because of the substantial features that are useful if you are serious about expanding your ranges.
Positive Grid Bias Amp 2
I consider the Bias Amp 2 as the “King of Tweaking” in the VST plugin world.
It covers various ranges of styles that can fit your needs. (No matter what your style is)
The Bias Amp 2 has tons of amps (including bass and acoustic amps) for you to try and learn.
You will appreciate this plugin more if you start using ToneCloud.
The ToneCloud has a wide selection of amps by Positive Grid and other users which you can download for free.
Another useful feature of this plugin is amp designer which allows you to modify existing tracks or create a new one.
The Bias Amp 2 is worthy of your investment because of its high-end features and compatibility with any user.
Remember not to get distracted when tweaking!
Softube Metal Amp Room
Advertised as “the most brutal, evil and aggressive sound that is possible to squeeze out of your DAW,” Metal Amp Room can give you the best metal sound.
If you are looking for a plugin that has straightforward features, this one’s for you!
No fancy effects and chains to control. Can you believe that?
Choose the cab, move the microphone around then blend it – you’re good to go if you are satisfied with the tone.
The Metal Amp Room is one of the best plugins for metal sounds.
It features three bass knobs, a gain knob, middle and treble, two shaping knobs and buttons for scoop, deep and lead.
It is essential to figure out how these knobs function for you to create an excellent setup.
Having said that, this plugin has no onboard feature, which means that you will need to unplug your guitar to tune it.
The Metal Amp Room uses the standard VST preset management system, which also means that you need to secure your preset by saving it on a specific location.
Still, you should give this plugin a try!
Softube Vintage Amp Room
Vintage Amp Room is the first amp plugin that was developed by Softube, which is also available in formats like VST, RTAS and other hosts similar to PC and MAC.
Similar to Metal Amp Room, it has three amps that are based on Vox AC30, Fender and Marshall.
By the way, the amps are named White, Brown and Green.
The White amp is highly compatible with distorted rock n roll and classical music. It has different levels of sounds from screaming to warm and breaking power amp distortion.
The Brown amp is for all ranges of styles and instruments because of the clear and crisp sound. It may suit you if you like playing country and blues music.
If you want to get quirky, you can integrate the Green amp by using vibrato.
The Metal Amp Room has impressive graphics and is easy to use.
So, if you want a plugin that can let you create the best rock n roll music, the Metal Amp Room could be a promising choice!
It has speaker cabinets and microphones, which can be useful during live and recorded performances.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5
Guitar Rig 5 features 50 ready to use presets, amp simulation with matched cabinet and three effects.
It also includes a free KOMPLETE start package with 2000 sounds which can be downloaded and installed via Native Access.
The Guitar Rig 5 player provides you with a wide selection of high-class components, routing tools and effects enabling you to shape guitar sounds precisely.
Guitar Rig 5 has features and effects that are straightforward and easy to find.
I suggest you also check Guitar Rig 5 Pro to see which suits your needs.
Line 6 Pod Farm 2.5
Pod Farm 2.5 version gives you access to a broader range of tones and sounds. It is also the latest update of Line 6, along with Pod Farm 2.5 Premium.
The good news is… if you are using POD Farm 2, you can get a free upgrade to the 2.5 version.
The Pod Farm 2.5 version is compatible with any USB interface and 64-bit support.
There is a free download of the lite version featuring only two guitar amps with two speaker cab models, two bass amps with two cabs, 13 stompboxes and effects and two preamps.
I know the full version is better because of the effects and pedals…
Since it’s free, it wouldn’t hurt to try to see if the Pod Farm 2.5 is your cup of tea.
The Pod Farm 2.5 has Standalone feature which makes it convenient to use. (In fact, you can use it without loading up your DAW)
It features MIDI for controlling the volume, mute, global tap tempo and more.
Another good feature is the simple browser that allows users to drag and drop models to create soundtracks.
LePou Amp Pack
Every guitar player loves LePou! Not only because it’s free but also the quality is outstanding.
The LePou Amp Pack is a combination of different plugins which are HyBrit, Lecto, LeGion, LeXTAC, SoloC and Le456.
Wait… there’s more.
They have also added impulse response loader and a separate VST for cab sim impulses.
HyBrit is a hybrid amp model with the character of two British gears which are PLS and MCJ.
LePou 546 has two channels with two modes and has the style of German gear.
What struck me the most among all of the LePou plugins is LeGion which suits any hardware gear.
Also, there is no need for a booster because of the heavy tone controls.
Next is LeXTAC, inspired by the Californian boutique amplifier. It has three channels with a gain boost which can make a big difference in your guitar sounds.
The SoloC does not have a power amp or cabinet model, but it can be sort by adding one on your signal chain.
I can say LePou plugins are suitable for those who love to experiment with British and German amps.
It will give you a satisfying and excellent guitar sound.
Audified ampLion Pro
ampLion Pro has a selection of amps like Fender, Engl, Mesa and Marshall including boost, drive, distortion, modulation and delay pedals which can give you clean tones.
It features seven power amps, 12 speakers, nine guitar preamps, eight microphones and lots of effects to help you achieve a variety of guitar sounds.
The ampLion Pro is another choice of a plugin for live and rehearsed performance as it can enhance your guitar tracks big time.
I love playing with the advanced track player because it has a broad selection of songs from my favourite artist.
The speed control is also useful if you want to speed up or slow down if you can’t keep up with the tone.
The ampLion Pro also lets you record clean guitars signal and decide for the mixing sound while recording.
Go for the ampLion Pro for ultimate guitar tracks and effects!
Avid Eleven MK II
With Avid Eleven MK II, you will get 29 amp models, 15 speaker cab models and ten microphones which are more than enough to give you the best guitar music.
Plus you will get access to presets use by famous musicians. How cool is that!
Fender, Marshall, VOX, Boogie and Saldano amplifiers are amongst their list of sound collections.
What I appreciate the most about this plugin is it allows you to recreate and design a guitar tone by mixing and matching amps, cabinets and mic models.
You can also use the off-axis microphone for tonal flexibility.
Avid Eleven MK II uses cutting edge modelling techniques allowing you to get emulation just like a real gear.
Note that you will need Protools DAW to run it.
Try Avid Eleven MK II if you are looking at owning a designer tone or cranking up a perfect tone for a particular genre.
Impact Shreddage 3
Do you want to add a bit of guitar to your music but you lack the skill?
The Impact Shreddage 3 is at your advantage.
I think one of the most noticeable features of this plugin is the control and mapping flexibility that allows you to customise vibrato, mutes, bends, etc.
The Shreddage 3 also features Poly Input which makes switching strums and single strings easy.
The strumming engine can also be customised if you want to control the strum and other dynamics.
The Shreddage 3 also features a page called “Console” which is useful when monitoring the tone and sound of your guitar.
With this plugin, you don’t need to add effects, pedals, amps, cabinets, etc.
Just look at the features closely and figure out how to use it!
Vir2 Electri6ity is another virtual guitar plugin that provides an advanced guitar library for all.
Electri6ity features a 28GB core library with thousands of samples and techniques including four DVDs with free Kontakt 4 Player.
It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to take care of the sound aspect such as noise, upstroke, downstroke, etc.
The aim is to achieve a precise guitar sound with excellent quality and dynamics.
It also features key switch zones allowing access to articulations and also will enable you to perform directly from your keyboard.
There is no doubt the Electri6ity plugin can give you the best guitar sound to very high detail.
You will also need patience and time to study all the features of this plugin.
It features thousands of samples for every guitar including mutes, releases, sustains, pull-offs, slides and more.
Another good feature of Acou6tics is the virtual room control with microphones that are adjustable and a vast collection of MIDI files for strumming patterns.
The Mics & FX function of Acou6tics is also one of its most highlighted features.
It gives the perfect tone by using the volume control and calculating the mic distance.
Acous6tics users have full access to MIDI files which are useful for starting your compositions.
Toneforge by JST
Toneforge by JST suits musicians, engineers and producers who want to produce guitar sounds and quickly.
The Toneforge line from Joey Sturgis Tones (JST) features four amps which are Menace, Ben Bruce, Guilty Pleasure and Jason Richardson.
These amps are “guitar tone simplified” with Graphical User Interface (GUI) that are straightforward, providing you with mix-ready tones at an affordable rate.
All amps relatively operate in the same manner with features that are unique and user-friendly.
They all have a front panel for setting, cabinet, microphone, equaliser, compressor and (Impulse Response (IR) loader.
Toneforge Menace, being the first in the line, became the basis for iterations in the later collection, also the cheapest in the collection.
It has one cabinet with four preset microphones.
Although it has a limited scope, it can be a good starter for learning heavy guitar tones.
Toneforge Ben Bruce was the next one to be released with added features such as delay, a clean channel and rotary effect.
Next is Toneforge Guilty Pleasure which can cover a wide range of tones from active rock to full metal.
And now the latest addition is Toneforge Jason Richardson which is the most unique of all the Toneforge.
It features two impulses, equaliser and a three-channel design (clean, lead, rhythm) which provides various tones.
It’s worth checking out all Toneforge collections to test how your guitar sounds using the different amps.
We all have different tastes in guitar music and each one of us wants to achieve a unique style.
Finding the best guitar VST plugins for your setup can make a big difference in your style and production of guitar music.
There are various types of plugins in the market which can be purchased or accessed for free.
I am not saying “Use the most expensive plugin with heavy features”.
But I want you to understand the importance of choosing the best plugin for your needs and learning about their features.
Learning about the features of your chosen plugin is a big part of discovering the best guitar music ever. (Investing a little bit on plugins is another part of the story!)
I suggest you consider trying out this list of the 20 best guitar VST plugins and weigh up other options as well.
Let me know how it goes!