A guitar VST is a plugin you can download on your computer. How to use it? What to choose and why? Where to download some of them? You’ll get all the information you need here.
Basically, a VST is a software interface. There are a lot of various VST out there, guitar related ones are just like a needle in a hay stack. That’s why we’ll only talk about them. You’ll find out there are a lot to say, though. Read further if you want to learn more.
1. What are VST plugins?
Before learning how to utilize them, you have to understand their role. There are three types of VST: VST instruments, VST effects, and VST MIDI effects. The difference between the last two plugins is that the latter will always use a MIDI interface, protocol and MIDI connectors. For more information about MIDI, read the article.
A VST instrument is able to play some audio. It’s often represented as a synthesizer or a sampler. These virtual instruments can be played directly on your computer, but you’ll find out that having some hardware linked to your machine is easier and more intuitive.
VST effects can be added while playing or after playing. Reverb, phaser, wah-wah, distortion… There are a lot of them out there. These VST effects are really useful when you don’t have any effects unit.
2. How do we make them work?
Really simple. You’ll need a VST host or a music editor which allows VST plugins to be imported. Free VST hosts are common though they don’t offer as much as commercial ones. As for music editors, Audacity and Wavosaur, for example, are free and offers you to import VST plugins.
You can also decide to invest some money on a VST host or a music editor. If your intent is just to play some music with your computer, then a VST host is fine. However, buying a music editor is essential if your goal is to produce some great quality songs.
3. What guitar VST plugins to choose?
Once you have your VST host or Music Editor, you can download VST interfaces. Let’s start with guitar virtual effects as they are more numerous than VST instruments. So… What are the best ones you can buy?
- Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 – the amount of possible combinations with this software is impressive. Numerous presets, a great control room helping you to mix and record audio, and a simple interface. The sound is really good too, though its authenticity can be questioned sometimes.
- Amplitube 3 – as the name conveys, this VST gives you access to a large panel of amplifiers. And if you don’t like the synthetic sound you can sometimes overhear on Guitar Rig effects, this plugin will suit your needs. The sound quality is one its best points. Beware though, you need a good computer to make it run at 100%.
- Guitar Tool Rack 3– this VST is simple to use. And it is capable of producing great effects too. You can buy it at a very good price nowadays.
- Line 6 POD Farm 2.5 Platinum – very versatile product, especially good with clean sounds but Amplitude is better for saturated ones. If you like line 6 stuff in general, you’ll most likely love this one.
What about free VST effects for guitar?
- Le Pou – It’s not actually one great free plugin but six! Yes, it will not sound as good as Amplitube 3, but as it’s free, it is really worth the try. I’d advise you to test LeCab 2 which is, for me, the best Le Pou plugin.
- IK Multimedia Amplitube 3 Custom Shop – When it comes to free applications, Amplitube is also one of the best. 9 stompboxes, 5 speakers, 4 amps and 3 microphones. For something which does not cost you anything, it’s HUGE.
- Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 Player – Yes, another free version! Only one amp provided (Jump) with a dedicated speaker but many features like: Tube Screamer, a limiter, noise gate, noise reduction system, etc.
Now let’s talk about guitar VST instruments. A virtual guitar will never sound as good as a real one, but you can test them anyway and see if it suits your needs. Some of them produce great sounds. We’ll start with the commercial plugins:
- Vir2 Acou6tics: Vir2 made a really interesting product there for acoustic instruments: steel-stringed and nylon guitar, 12-strings guitar, ukulele, mandolin and guitalele. Many options and articulations are here : finger-picking, plectrum picking, hammer-on and pull off, slides, harmonics…
- Vir2 Electri6ity: have you ever dreamed of playing a Les Paul, Telecaster, or a Stratocaster guitar? With this VST, you’ll be able to feel the vibe of your favorite guitar. Other renown ones are present, and you can also simulate great amplifiers such as Modern, Metal or British and Classic. As regards effects, you’ll find chorus, flanger, reverb, and delay.
- Real Guitar 3: good diversity for this one : steel-stringed guitars (3 variations), a nylon stringed (1 variation) and a 12-stringed (1 variation) guitar.
- MusicLab RealLPC 3: you’ll have access to only one Les Paul guitar here. But the sound it produces and its expressivity are its best assets.
What about free VST instruments? The sound will not be as good as with those above, but with some effects, you’ll get closer to it.
- Ample Guitar M Lite: this is the lite version of AGM, the Martin D-41 acoustic guitar. And if you don’t know this plugin, you’ll be amazed by the sound it can produce with a great keyboard playing.
- DSK Guitar Series: 3 acoustic guitars available for this VST: acoustic, nylon and stringed.
- DVS guitar: it’s hard to find a free electric guitar VSTi sounding as good as a real guitar. This one is probably one of the best.
4. Other ways to get some effect
Guitar amplifiers, guitar pedals, rackmounts, multi-effect device are the most common ways to add some effect on your guitar sound, along with VSTs and Audio Editors.
Of course, some of them are more efficient depending on your configuration and what you want to achieve. Reading some guidance and testing will surely help you in that matter.