Recording guitars have become accessible nowadays through the use of an audio interface. You do not have to use a microphone to record directly out of an amplifier, which can be very loud and time-consuming.
You will have to find the best mic position, not to mention you have to get a suitable microphone and amplifier as well.
Fortunately, many guitar VSTs could help you ease the process in the form of amp sims, stompbox effects, and many more. You can achieve the tone you want without all the extra work.
What do you Need to Start?
First off, you’re going to need an electric or acoustic guitar. (Make sure you changed the strings and have good working cables to ensure excellent tone)
Finally, you will need the required software such as a DAW and the best guitar VST plugins I will recommend on this list below.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5
Native Instruments are back with their take on virtual guitar technology. Known for creating various virtual instruments, Native Instruments always aim to improve their software. After years of development, Native Instruments launches the latest version of Guitar Rig Pro. This guitar VST offers a wide range of comprehensive tools such as:
- 17 amps
- 27 cabinets
- 54 effects
With this collection of guitar processing components covering the classic Fender, Marshall, Orange, and Vox sound, you don’t really need to by any other VST. The Guitar Rig Pro has it all.
You can select any combination you want to create the right sound that suits your needs. By simply dragging and dropping amps, cabinets, and effects, you can stack them up to create a guitar tone you can use to melt the listener’s faces.
The guitar amp and effects on this plugin sound incredible, but the one feature that really stands out, is the simplicity of creating the sound. The user interface is easy to navigate, opening endless creative possibilities with an optimized workflow.
The Control Room section gives you precise control of the amp and cabinet sims. You can configure the mic positioning with the use of 16 high-end microphones.
The Guitar Rig Pro 5 is for people who are looking for guitar VST equipped with all the essential features for recording guitar tracks. Without having to purchase anything else on top of it, you get a set of tools that can unlock a wide range of creative possibilities.
Line6 Helix Native
Line6 is well-known for creating some of the best hardware guitar effects processors and amps. With the growing popularity of virtual studio technology, Line6 is bringing out their brand of guitar effects processing in the form of VST plugins.
The user interface does not seem interactive at first. However, the Helix Native focuses more on the sound. The collection comes with a total of 62 amps, 37 cabinets, 104 effects, and 16 microphones. As long as your CPU allows it, you can load up several signal chains and effects.
Despite the user interface being a bit dull, the amps and effects sound superb. You get a long list of presets working on a single functional sound chain. If you have ever tried something like the Line6 Amplifi amp, the UI is highly similar to the Amplifi app for your mobile phone.
If you have the hardware version of Helix, you can use the programmed user presets for live gigs. You can also share your own presets and download presets made by other Helix users.
This guitar VST is not only for Line6 fans but for people who want a sleek and functional guitar VST jam-packed with ready-to-use presets. This VST offers the best of both software and hardware worlds. It may be a little on the expensive side, but the massive selection of high-quality amps and effects sims are worth it.
GarageBand Amp and Effects Collection
If you are a Mac user, you do not need to purchase anything else. The fully functional DAW has a collection of decent amps and effects sims you can use to record demos and steamtable audio. Aside from the guitar sound collection, you also get a DAW that has everything you will need, such as synths, drummers, and other useful features.
For a free DAW, the sounds are pretty decent. You also get a selection of presets that could sound excellent, with only a couple of tweaks.
This DAW, together with its collection of guitar sounds, is suitable for beginners that want to experience working with a DAW. If you are a Mac user, you should definitely check out GarageBand. If you like GarageBand, you can download Logic Pro x, which is its premium version.
Find it in your plugin tab in GarageBand.
Positive Grid Bias FX2
The Bias FX2 is one of my favorite go-to guitar VSTs. The sound and effects included are beautifully rendered to perfection. By purchasing one of the three available versions, you can turn your computer into a guitar sound paradise. The Elite version has a total of 100 amp sims, and 100 stomp effects, plus the option of downloading of additional effect pedals from the Bias FX online community. Despite the massive selection of sound presets, the user interface remains straightforward and easy to use.
The Bias FX allows you to build every sound from scratch. You can create ambient clean sounds or bright lead tones with full control of the microphone placement. After you make your pedalboard, you can share it with the online community. You can also download the sounds that are shared by other Bias FX users.
One of the best features included in this plugin is the Guitar Match feature. It analyses the sound of your guitar and morphs it into one of the legendary guitars included, such as a Les Paul, Stratocaster, or Telecaster.
It is impressive how the Bias FX by Positive Grid manages to keep everything integrated and work smoothly despite all of the features. The interface is straightforward, and I recommend this guitar plugin for beginners and pros alike.
LePou Plugins (Free Guitar VST)
These LePou plugins are not that popular. However, I think it is worth to mention because of the fact that you can download them for free. These plugins lack some of the extra features found in the other paid VSTs on this list, but you can still take advantage of these plugins.
You can download each of the LePou plugins individually. I think these plugins sound impressive. You can get amps that are modeled after Marshall and Mesa/Boogie. Each of the amps you download come with their own set of parameters such as EQ, drive, reverb, and distortion. There is nothing fancy about the interface, but the plugins are very easy to use.
The LePou plugins is a good choice if you are on a budget. The sounds are not too bad, considering you can download them for free. If you are just getting into guitar VST plugins, the LePou plugins should be a solid choice for you.
Softube Vintage Amp Room
This guitar VST plugin does not have a wide selection of amps and effects. However, this plugin focuses on creating a simple guitar amp that sounds authentic. Even the user interface is true to hardware amps. You don’t get a lot of fancy presets, but you do get three incredible amps that sound highly similar to the real thing. To use this VST, all you need to do is plug in your guitar and adjust the knobs to your liking.
The three amps included resemble a version of a Marshall tube amp, a Fender Twin, and the classic tone of a Vox AC30. The Marshall amp uses all tubes with no effects. You get a bright signal made for creating heavy rock riffs and leads with a powerful distortion.
The Fender-Esque amp is best for clean bluesy and jazzy chords, while the Vox amp boasts a warm and bright distortion, which includes three channels.
The Softube Vintage Amp Room is the ideal guitar VST for people who are looking for something more straightforward and more accurate to the hardware amp simulation. The Sound quality is very accurate, and you will instantly fall in love with the incredibly pleasing sound.
Overloud TH-U Full
This next plugin features a vast selection of amp models and effects. It consists of:
- 89 guitar amps
- 4 bass amps
- 50 guitar cabinets
- 2 bass cabinets
- 77 effects
- 18 microphones
- Over 1000 presets
Sound creation is very precise. You can customize almost everything with the amp, even changing the tubes. The user interface may take a lot of time to get used to. Still, once you can navigate through the software, you can maximize the utility of this fantastic guitar VST.
The microphone placement feature can be positioned anywhere in front or behind the amp cabinet, giving you more precision when recording. The response to every adjustment is compelling.
Overall the THU-H is an extraordinary guitar VST that deals with more detail when crafting tones. I recommend this VST for producers with more experience on the sound engineering side of the recording process. The advanced configuration of this VST may not be suitable for beginners. However, it is also an excellent way to start being more technical.
The GTR3 has been around for quite some time now. This VST consists of 4 separate plugins inspired by the classic Marshall, Mesa/Boogie, Fender, and Vox Amps. It has a total of 25 guitar amp modelers, 7 bass amps, 2 cabinets, 26 effects, and 2 microphones.
Each of the amps has its own separate drive, phase, delay, and pan controls. The controls are simple, which makes it easy to navigate through and learn the basics of sound design and engineering.
With the combination of amps and effects, you can create almost any type of guitar sound from scratch. It also has a tuner which can be useful for recording guitar and bass.
For a reasonable price, you can get this collection of decent guitar sounds. It might lack some features compared to the other items on the list; still, this VST is worth a mention because of its user-friendly interface.
IK Multimedia Amplitube
The last guitar VST plugin on the list is none other than IK Multimedia’s Amplitube. After decades of development, IK multimedia came up with its latest version, the Amplitube 4. This plugin is extraordinary in terms of tone and authenticity. It has a license to recreate and use the name of the best guitar hardware amps and effects.
To set up your tone, you get 9 amplifiers, 10 cabinets, and 29 speaker models. The amp collection is versatile, which you can use to create a wide variety of tones. Aside from Amplitube 4, you can get more packages such as artist packages like Slash, Hendrix, etc.
To create the sound, you will go through an extensive process of customization. You start things off by selecting a preamp, cabinet, microphone, and even the room size. Aside from the comprehensive customization features, the IK Multimedia Amplitube 4 also includes an 8-track recorder to lay down your tracks.
Amplitube 4 is a thorough and versatile plugin that focuses on the authenticity of the sound. Aside from its hyper-realistic tone, Amplitube 4 also offers a wide variety of features. You can use these features for recording tracks at home or playing live shows when you are on the road.
- How do guitar VSTs work? Guitar VST plugins are used in place of large and loud amps. It is a virtual software that processes the signal coming from your guitar with the use of a computer. It the technology similar to digital multi-effects processors but offer more sounds, customization options, and better quality depending on the plugin. You will need an audio interface to translate the sound of your guitar into a digital signal that a computer will understand.
- How can I record guitar without an audio interface? Without a guitar interface, other devices can help you connect a guitar to a computer such as:
- Using an amp or effects with a built-in audio interface – Some modern amps have built-in audio interfaces that you can use to record from your amp directly to your computer. Amps such as the Line6 Amplifi or Boss Katana will feature this technology. Because they already have a built-in amp and effect sims, you do not need to download a guitar VST plugin. However, if you want to use a guitar VST, make sure you use a clean signal from the amp so that the tones won’t stack up and clash with each other.
- A mixer with a USB output – Some mixers like the Behringer Xenyx 502USB can connect to your computer via USB.
Using virtual studio technology is a more convenient way to record and process a guitar signal with some of the most fantastic guitar amps and effects. With the best guitar VST plugins, you can’t even tell if them apart from recording with real amps and microphones. Using guitar VSTs are nothing to frown upon; it is the kind of technology people should embrace. Thanks to virtual studio technology, producing music is more accessible than ever.
However, if you have the necessary equipment for recording electric guitar through a microphone, you should probably give that method a try. It is best to experience both virtual instruments and organic sound recordings. If you have quality amps, and a collection of effects, you can put them to good use by recording the natural guitar signal.
Last update on 2020-06-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API