19 Best Free Standalone / VST Guitar Amp Simulators For PC, Mac


Buying an amplifier is essential for playing electric guitars. But getting a good one can be rather expensive. This especially the case if you are a beginner, or if you don’t earn money by playing. You can understand why someone can have problems with throwing a thousand dollars or more. 

But there is an alternative to an amplifier. You can get a variety of programs that can simulate an amp, and they will allow you to plug your guitar directly into your PC. While some of these programs are quite expensive, it’s possible to find ones that are free of charge. 

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If you still don’t know how to connect your electric guitar to your PC or laptop then check out my post 5 Easy Ways To Play Electric Guitar Through PC/Laptop

Standalone + Vst Plugin

One of the best options you can find, and the easiest to use, are standalone programs that can act as a plug-in as well. They can do a variety of things besides just being an amp simulator if you want to properly record your guitar there is an options built-in. Some programs can act as VST (Virtual Studio Technology) for your DAW (more about DAWs later on). If you already have a program, you might want to find just a plug-in that will enhance the DAW you already own, or to help you get the desired sound. 

Guitar Rig 5 Player

Available on Windows and Mac

Native Instruments offer a great simulation that comes in both free and paid versions. While the design is the same for both, the free version has fewer options when it comes to amps and effects. When it comes to a free version of the program, you will get one amp and one cabinet to use. However, you can use a couple of effect pedals like Ibanez Tubescreamer, for example. 

There are also a few delay pedals, as well as equalizers and noise gates. The UI is quite good, and you don’t need to spend hours trying to figure out how to use it. The main idea behind these two versions is that the basic or free program offers only a demo, hoping to get you hooked and getting a full version of the software. 

Whichever option you pick, there is no doubt that the program will serve you well, and that you’ll be able to create beautiful music. The paid one, of course, offers so much more when it comes to the choice of equipment. 

AmpliTube Custom Shop

Available on Windows and Mac

Over the years, AmpliTube gained incredible popularity and not without reason. The design of the program is similar to others where you can customize your experience as you would with a real amplifier. 

As you can probably guess, this software comes in several versions as well, but you can get a free plug-in as well. This plug-in will allow you to use AmpliTube 3, as well as 24 models that include nine stomps or pedals, four different amplifiers, three microphones, and two rack effects. It also has a built-in tuner that will allow you to always keep your guitar in key. 

One of the best qualities of AmpliTube is that the program is perfect for beginners. You won’t need a degree in engineering to use it, and you can experiment with sounds to find what you love the most. The UI is incredible and it will show you a virtual amp with all the potentiometers and buttons that you can mess around with until you get a tone that you love. 

Naturally, you can get a paid version as well that gives you an opportunity to use “real” brands like Orange, Fender, Mesa, and there are even simulations of player’s rigs available. So, if you really want to sound like Jimi Hendrix, you can buy a custom software that will allow you to achieve it in no time. 

AmpLion Free

Available on Windows and Mac

AmpLion works as a standalone program and plug-in. The program is developed by Audified, and if you like it, you can get a pro version as well. As you can probably guess already, there are several options that are not available in the free version, but you can still use it for practicing, recording, composing, and even playing live! 

What is interesting about AmpLion is that it gives you an option to use Track Player and play along with your favorite songs and artists. You can also use intelligent metronome, which is something that is perfect for practicing. 

AmpLion also allows you to adjust the microphone position while using the simulation, where you can choose the location of the microphone and the distance from the speaker. If you ever tried recording something with a mic and an amplifier, you know how important it can be. 

Finally, it gives an impressive amount of customization, and you can find several pedals and cabinets available even in the free version. AmpLion Free offers five-channel tube amp, two cabinets, metronome, audio player, and advance recorder. 

Bias FX2 

Available on Windows and Mac

The company that’s behind this software recently released their second and upgraded version of BIAS amps. If you compare it to the first one, there is so much improvement, and you will get a lot better feel while playing the newer version. It is worth mentioning that there are several versions of this program that you will have to pay, and the price is between $100 and $300. Why is it on the list, you might ask. Well, you can also get a free version of the program, that comes with certain limitations. 

But even if you get a demo, it is still an incredible software, that will allow you all kinds of customizations and options to tailor the sound to your needs. Using your virtual amplifier is easy. Based on the version of the software you get, you will have hundreds of different effects and amp simulations. Similarly to the real thing, you can add or remove reverb, gain, loop, and so on. 

DAW With Built-In Amp Simulator

DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstations might not be the best thing for beginners, due to the complexity of these programs. Some of the programs are designed for audio editing, recording, and such, but they don’t offer an amp simulator you can use to record guitar, but if you find one that does, you won’t have to bother downloading and installing VST plugins.

If you are a beginner and really don’t know anything about DAWs. Here is a video that demonstrates how to play\record your guitar with Cakewalk DAW. This is just to get you started.

Cakewalk With TH3

Available only on Windows

Cakewalk is designed by BandLab, and as other products on the list, is free. You can record, edit, mix, master, and almost anything you’ll ever need. The BandLab takes pride in its product, and they claim that this is the most complete package you’ll ever find. While Cakewalk works almost like a demo for the THU, TH3 is a free plug-in for Cakewalk you can try out for yourself. It is quite decent software you can try, and since it is free, it offers you a chance to play with it without worrying about a thing.  

Magix With Vandal SE

Available only on Windows

Another great software you can try if you are looking for something heavier is Magix with Vandal SE. Here, you will have a variety of crunch tones, drives, and other effects that are perfect for any heavy metal or rock lovers out there. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t use it on clean as well. It works great for both singles and humbuckers as well. Magix is great for both beginners and more advanced players, and you can check it out on the link above. 

VST Plugins That Works On DAW

Now, things get a bit more complicated if you are looking for a VST for your DAW only. This means that you already have (or plan to have) a Digital Audio Workstation, and there are so many incredible programs available. While the best ones are usually quite costly like Steinberg’s Cubase, there are some you can download for free as I mentioned in the section before.

You can use either Cakewalk that is available for Windows, or Tracktion T7 that’s available for both Windows and Mac. After you downloaded and installed your DAW, you will need to download and install the VST plugin.

If you opted for Cakewalk, which is free, you can follow the link below to see how to install and add VST plugins into it. This will allow you to have both DAW and VST that you can use for free. 

Blue Cat Audio Free Amp

Available on Windows and Mac

Blue Cat is a free simulation plug-in for your DAW, which can be great if you are looking for more variations to your guitar sound. Since this program is free, you can easily download it, and check it out for yourself. The design is easy to use, and it works as a demo to their Axiom program. You will get a taste of their popular amps. There are three amps available and you can use them regardless of your music taste. Settings for each of the three amps allow you to use anything from clean and soft guitar sound to crunchy heavier sounds for rock lovers. As with a real amp, you can experiment with potentiometers to make something that’s perfect for you. 

Voxengo Boogex

Available on Windows and Mac

Boogex is a rather interesting program. While it has a similar function to the others on the list, the design is a lot different. Here, you won’t have a visual representation of an amplifier, but you will still have an option to customize your sound. Where Boogex shines is with low and medium settings for gain. You can still play it with higher gain, but the sound will be a lot less clear. However, this might be appealing to some players anyway. Higher gain settings are a lot more fizzy and compressed. 

There are also a lot of built-in impulse responses, and you can add different loaders as well. Voxengo also made sure that you have an impressive selection of amplifiers, cabinets, and even microphones. 

The quality of this software lies in variations and changes you can try out. Almost anything is possible, and you can try both smooth jazz sound and heavy metal drive. The latency is almost zero, which means that you can use it for real-time processing. 

Finally, the program won’t be a trouble for your CPU, and you can even add additional cabinet speaker impulses. 

Ignite Amps

Available on Windows and Mac

The main thing about Ignite amps is they are completely free to use. Their product covers both tube amps and solid-state ones. If you were wondering about how it works, the technology is based on analog modeling and derives systems of nonlinear differential equations. The entire software is based on C++, and more importantly, it’s free. 

You can also get a plug-in for the majority of DAWs or Digital Audio Workstations, and you can play, record, and test it as much as you like. 

Among the amp plug-ins, you can get are Libra, Emissary, The Anvil, NadIR, and many more. While it might not sound as impressive as having a Fender, these simulations are incredible, and you can adjust and customize them as much as you desire. These plug-ins have different purposes, and you can find ones designed for mixing, jamming, simulations of tube amps, solid-state, and so much more. 

LePou Plugins

Available on Windows and Mac

Another exciting thing you can try is one of the LePou plugins. These are designed to simulate one several popular amps. You can find, for example, a hybrid guitar amp, which is a solid-state amp with tubes in the preamp. Furthermore, there is a preamp simulator, as well as a variety of cabinets. 

The best thing about these plugins is that they are free of charge, and you can download them whenever you desire. Most of these are quite good and give you an option to further customize the sound. All you have to do is try a few and see which one suits your style and taste.

Kuassa Ampilfikation Lite

Available on Windows and Mac

If you are looking for a more classic, vintage style, Kuassa might have a perfect thing for you. Their amp software, Amplifikation, allows you to experience the best of the bygone era, and enjoy traditional bluesy rock style. Like many other entries on the list, there is a lite version that is completely free and allows you to try out their product.

Lite offers an amplifier that sounds like a combination of Marshall and Peavey amps. Naturally, you can use gain if you are looking for a harder music genre, but you can play it clean as well. The simulation is able to perfectly capture that late seventies sound, and if you are looking for something like this, Kuassa might be the best choice. 

Kuassa also offers a couple of pedals that you can take free of charge, like equalizer and noise-gate, and you can always check their paid models if you want something more. 

Shattered Glass Audio Ice

Available on Windows and Mac

If the seventies are too recent for you, Shattered Glass might have a product you’ll like. Their amp simulator is based on Fender’s Tweed Champ, which is arguably one of the best amps from the fifties. The original inspiration is 5W, all-tube amp. What is interesting here is the option to adjust the level of feedback. 

There is also a mod to the real circuit and it includes grip stopper resistors. You can also use a plug-in that can be oversampled up to eight times. 

Interestingly, the volume on the amp simulator can go all the way to twelve, just like on the original amp. It’s a nice detail which tweed lovers will undoubtedly appreciate. 

X50 V2

Available on Windows and Mac

This software comes from TSE Audio, and it is definitely worth your attention. As some of the previous examples on the list, you can find a demo or free version that is a stripped version of the original program. Some of the functionalities will be unavailable, but you will still get a very clear idea of what they have to offer. 

X50 V2 is rather versatile, and you can get anything from a crisp clean tone, all the way to heavy metal distortion. But even if you get a free version, you will still be able to use a tuner, equalizer, delay, phaser, reverb, and several distortion pedals. 

But one of the main qualities of the software is simplicity. You will notice from the start that the program is rather intuitive and easy to use. you won’t need an expensive PC to run the X50 V2. Furthermore, a demo version is available for both platforms, and you can download it and check system requirements in the link below. 

NRR-1

Available on Windows and Mac

If you are a heavy metal player, there is a chance that you are not satisfied with some of the entries on the list. Finding an amplifier that has a good distortion can be challenging, especially if we talk about software simulations. Ignite designed NRR-1, and the program was created for Cristiano Trionfera. Trionfera is currently playing with an Italian symphonic death metal band, and NRR-1 is quite similar to the original amp he used. 

This program offers three channels: clean, rhythm, and lead. Each of the channels has its own separate controls, and you can choose between mono and stereo processing support. It also allows you to use preset management systems as well as bank import and export functions. 

For everyone looking for a digital version of his amplifier from 2009, this will be an incredible option. You can find more info on the link, and you can try it for yourself if you are into a heavier sound. 

SimulAnalog Guitar Suite

Available only on Windows

SimulAnalog Guitar Suite is a free program that offers a variety of amplifiers and pedals. While it is not as polished as some others from the list, there is no paid version. This means that you will get the whole product, and you won’t be tempted to invest if your goal was to experiment on your computer. 

Furthermore, the software comes only in the 32-bit version, which might be a deal-breaker for some. However, the sound that you can create using this program is well worth the trouble. The plugins you can find here offer two amplifiers, Fender Twin from 1969 and Marshall JCM9000 Dual Reverb. 

When it comes to effects, there are Boss DS-1 and SD-1, incredible TubeScreamer, Univox Univibe which is for modulations, and a phaser based on Oberheim PS-1. As you can see, the options for pedals and amps are rather impressive, and they are able to cover a plethora of genres. With this equipment, you’ll be able to play anything from blues to heavy metal. 

Black Rooster Audio Cypress TT-15

Available on Windows and Mac 

Black Rooster designed Cypress TT-15 that is incredible for all the metal lovers out there. As with other entries on the list. Finding a good drive or distortion for hard rock or metal is not easy, and most VST will give you an unsatisfying tone. However, Cypress can be quite good if you know how to use it. The settings for this VST are amazing, and it allows you to create a lot of incredible tones that work amazingly with heavy riffs. 

Cypress is good for both lead and rhythm sounds, and you can use a variety of effects like delay. The amp is a solid-state, and it has three knobs for tone, gain, and volume. While it would be amazing if they offered a treble, mid, bass, as well, we can’t really complain since it is free. 

Lost in 70’s Tone Deluxe

Available on Windows and Mac

The main idea behind Tone Deluxe by Lost in 70s is to create a full analog tube amplifier. What is interesting here is that Tone Deluxe completes everything from preamp to the cabinets. If you are into tube amps, you’d love to hear that it simulates ECC83 and EL34 tubes. You can also reduce the signal processing time which will create a more pleasurable experience. 

This software also offers two channels, one for clean and other for high gain. You can also use two spring reverbs, and five cabinet models. While the program is not great for metal, it works incredibly with rock, blues, hard rock, and other softer genres. 

Nick Crow

Available on Windows and Mac

Nick Crow Lab offers 8505 Lead that’s available for both Windows and Mac. The main quality of 8505 is the variety of tones you can get from it. The amp simulation comes with several knobs you can use. The first one is gain, and you can choose anything from heavy metal to soft rock. There is also an option to adjust lows, mids, and highs, which is something that other amps simulations are lacking. For anyone looking for heavier sounds, 8505 is an incredible option.

Nick Crow Labs also offer a 7170 amp simulation, as well as a couple of other amps, pedals, and effects you can test. As with other entries, the entire Nick Crow plug-in pack is free to use, and you can check it on the link above. 

ReValver 4

Available Windows and Mac

ReValver by Audio Media Research is actually a Peavey amp simulator, and it is incredible. If you ever played a Peavey amp, this is something you need to check as soon as possible. Naturally, the software is backed up by Peavey, and there are so many effects and options you can try out. One of the exciting options is to adjust the microphone position, as well as reverbs and many other options. 

You’ll be surprised by how many adjustments are available from different amps and effects to tubes and speakers. If you are looking for great software that offers a variety of effects and simulations, ReValver might be the thing to check. You can also add as many stompboxes as you want, and all of the effects sound quite good. At first glance, it seems that there is no limit to what ReValver can do. Peavey and AMR decided to show everyone how you should create an amp simulator, and they really managed to set a new standard. 

Summary

Playing an electric guitar without an amplifier might be challenging but it is far from impossible. There are so many companies developing software that will allow you to play your guitar using a computer. Most of these apps are available for both Mac and Windows, and the only thing you’ll need to do is plug in your guitar, and start playing. 

If you were wondering about price, most of the software companies offer free and paid versions, and you can try them both. Free software is usually a stripped version of a paid program, and you won’t have as many options. However, you can still play your guitar and create music without spending a dime if you don’t want to. 

If you found this article useful you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board

Jacob

I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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