Here's the complete list of the best electric guitar VSTs available:
- Shreddage 3 – Impact Sound Works
- AmpleSounds Ample Guitar G II
- Spitfire Audio – Ambient Guitars
- Wavesfactory Strum Guitar
- Heavyocity Scoring Guitars 2
- Sonivox Bright Electric Guitar
- Native Instruments Session Guitarist – Electric Sunburst
- Music Lab RealEight
- Peel Guitar from Spitfire Audio (FREE)
While we're on topic, check out our free standalone guitar vst amp simulators list!
What Are The Best Guitar VST Plugins?
When looking for the best electric guitar VST, you'll encounter, what might seem like an unending amount of options. With that in mind, you can't be expected to try all of the electric guitar vst plugins and decide for yourself.
That's why we'll try to run through what we think are the best electric guitar vst plugins you can get today, and why we like them.
So let's start with our first guitar plugin!
Shreddage 3 – Impact Sound Works
From heavily overdriven rock, to wailing wah-wah sounds of the 70s, Shreddage 3 by Impact Sound Works, is an impressively versatile collection of guitar sounds.
While it may not be the absolute pinnacle in incredibly realistic guitar tones, the playability and customizability of Shreddage 3 is inspiring.
Anything from palm mutes, pinch harmonics, vibrato etc. can be performed with this guitar plugin. In addition to this, you can also choose from different picking and fretting modes, as well as go up and down the neck, and even play with a capo.
You get built-in amps, mics and mic placements in addition to FX and a powerful mix section, to control your tone exactly the way you want it.
That being said, they sell every instrument separately, so we've linked to the free version of Stratus, for you to check out.
How Does It Sound?
When trying to emulate real instruments in the digital world, either through sampling, or emulation, the key to making a believable recording is the playability of your instrument.
Shreddage 3 allows you to play both rhyhm and lead, with tons of strum patterns and ways to express your great guitar skills.
Performability is the name of the game. With awesome amps included and plenty of sonic customizability, you can make Shreddage 3 sound indistinguishable from a real guitarist.
AmpleSounds Ample Guitar G II
Revered in the community, AmpleSounds' awesome metal and heavy rock tones have been popular ever since being released. With different types of guitars available, our favourite, the Ample Guitar G II is a sampled Gibson Les Paul electric guitar VST plugin.
Included are 6 classic Amp models, from Mesa Boogie models, to Rolands and even a couple Fender heads.
Add to that 7 matching cabinets, with 8 mic options for each in addition to room mics and you've got a really customizable sound out of one, legendary guitar.
A Strum Sequencer is also present, with fully customizable rhythm, letting you design full, rocking rhythm sections, as well as screeching solos.
How Does It Sound?
As per usual, AmpleSounds' sampling is incredible, and makes this instrument sound better than 90% of home guitar recordings.
To play with your tone you also get an 8-band high-order EQ, a compressor, Tap Echo and an IR Reverb machine, with different room algorithms.
This is a very playable instrument and the humanization settings make for even more realistic performances. Whether you're writing a bright and distorted solo or dark, chugging chord progressions, the Ample Guitar G II gets a recommendation from us!
Spitfire Audio – Ambient Guitars
A little different from usual, we're mentioning Spitfire Audio outside the context of their incredible LABS collection (don't worry, we'll have something for LABS later on).
In collaboration with Leo Abrahams, Spitfire Audio have sampled a Gibson 335, a Danelectro Hornet and Trussart guitar. Probably one of the most unique and diverse collections of guitar sounds you can get right now, Ambient Sounds is a 50 GB behemoth.
With that being said, this is one of the more expensive downloads on our list, usually going for over $300. If you catch a sale, like there was in Spring 2021, you can get Ambient Guitars for up to 40% OFF.
Whether you buy it full price or wait for a discount, Ambient Guitars is worth the money twice over, giving you incredible depth of new, exciting sonic possibilities.
How Does It Sound?
While these may not be conventional guitar sounds, leaning more towards the ambient, distorted and washed-out, these are some of the most unique guitar tones you'll ever hear.
We could keep going on about how awesome it sounds, and how unique the characteristics of all the patches are, but, we'll let Spitfire talk for themselves, with this incredibly Teaser clip.
Wavesfactory Strum Guitar
The Wavesfactory Strum Guitar, is a pack, from their collection of Kontakt libraries. Strum Guitar in particular, includes 4 different guitars and a lot of strumming options.
Strum Guitar features all major and minor chords, recorded with both upstrokes and downstrokes. everything was recorded on 4 guitars, an electric, acoustic, and an electric 12 string and acoustic 12 string.
With an intelligent, built-in sequencer with chord recognition, this Kontakt plugin will analyse and play your desired chords in a realistic way.
Extremely easy to use and master, Strum Guitar is a great option for an electric guitar VST plugin.
How Does It Sound?
The Wavesfactory Strum Guitar doesn't have to deal with any single notes, or weird polyphony issues. All it does is chords, and it does them incredibly well.
All of the samples in Strum Guitar were recorded through DI (Direct Input), so you can add your own amps, cabs and effects on top, for a truly customizable tone.
One of the better sounding guitar virtual instruments for sure, Strum Guitar is a must-have, in our opinion.
That being said, Strum Guitar provides a dry guitar output, so you will need amp simulators and other ways to alter your tone, to get the best sound possible.
Heavyocity Gravity – Scoring Guitars 2
Similar to Ambient Guitars by Spitfire Audio, the Heavyocity Scoring Guitars 2 is a giant pack of edgy, intense and experimental guitar textures.
Aimed at sound designers for film, tv and game music, Scoring Guitars can also be perfect for your next metal project.
With a smooth and intriguing interface, Scoring Guitars excels with it's workflow and ease of access and customizability. Guitars such as the Gibson 335, Fender Strats and others have been sampled in literally more ways than you could imagine.
How Does It Sound?
Filled with over 360 different sounds, Scoring Guitars 2 sounds absolutely fantastic.
While you might not use Scoring Guitars 2 for a lead guitar solo, they are perfect for creating a foundation to your compositions.
Both sharply produced and inspiring, Scoring Guitars 2 is perfect for cinematic atmospheres and intriguing guitar textures.
Electri6ity is one of the best gutar VST plugins for high-gain metal tones, perfect getting some realistic metal vibes.
Hammer-ons, pull-offs, harmonics, slides and mutes, etc. all add to Electri6ity's incredible playability and performance capabilities. In addition to this, you also have a performance page, where you can find settings like vibrato, strum patterns and master volume
While They tend to keep things simple, if you explore the settings enough, you'll discover a vast amount of control and customization.
How Does It Sound?
Using more than 24,000 24-bit samples per guitar, the guitar tones have been recreated incredibly well, and offer a lot of articulation options.
With incredibly deep and detailed performance capabilities, Electri6ity is a super playable vst instrument. The amount of samples used also cakes this a very authentic and realistic sounding eletric guitar vst.
Included are a bunch of stompboxes, in addition to more standard reverb and delay units. Shaping your tones however you want them is super easy, and fun to play with.
Sonivox Bright Electric Guitar
Part of the Sonivox Singles line, the Bright Electric Guitar vs plugin is a modeled after a classic Fender Stratocaster, which sounds crisp and beautiful.
For fans of stratocasters, this will be one of your best options. With deep playability, strum patterns and chord variations, Bright Electric Guitar s a super usable Guitar VST.
Bright Electric Guitar won't be your most versatile guitar plugin, more suited for clean tones, rather than heavy gain, but it sure as hell sounds awesome.
For the price, you won't find a better Stratocaster sound.
How Does It Sound?
Recorded by the Boston guitarist Jud Crane, with his Classic Fender Strat with Seymour Duncan pickups, through a Fender Vibrolux, Sonivox's guitar vst sounds sweet and lively.
While some guitar vst's can sound muted, Sonivox have made sure that this guitar vst lives up to it's name, offering a bright and splashy guitar sound.
With multi-velocity mutes and tones, in addition to a great selection of chords, Bright Electric Guitar is awesome to cut through the mix, for some smooth guitar goodness.
Native Instruments Session Guitarist – Electric Sunburst
Native Instruments' Session Guitarist is one of the most famous electric guitar vst plugins. Capturing a classic sunburst Les Paul guitar, with high-end cables, vintage tube pre-amps and high quality converters, the quality of the sound here cannot be understated.
The bridge and Neck pickups were also recorded separately, so that you could take full control over your guitar tone.
Amazingly playable, electric sunburst offers a comprehensive set of arpeggios, riffs, strumming patterns and real-time performance controls.
How Does It Sound?
The warm and rich sound of Electric Sunburst is characteristic of the gear recorded. All nuances of the gutar are reproduced faithfully, offering awesome sound for a fraction the price of a classic Les Paul.
In addition to the dry signal, a condenser mic, mounted above the strings has captured tiny sonic details like string hum and scratch, to further ground your performances in reality.
Great for people, who've absolutely no idea how to play guitar, Electric Sunburst offers a lot of easy playability, with riffs, loops, arpeggios etc.
Music Lab RealEight
The fifth instrument, in the line of MusicLab's “Real” Virtual guitar plugins, RealEight is the perfect 8-string guitar VST. Perfect for progressive metal and epic sweeps, 8-strings are characteristic of heavy-distorted sounds in the 2010's
The biggest difference between RealEight and other VST's we've mentioned up to now, is that RealEight was built for solos.
Stuff like chords detection, harmony etc. is not to be found in RealEight. While you can still strum chords, the main way you'll be usng this is for virtuosic guitar shredding and riffs that will take advantage of your 5-octave range.
How Does It Sound?
In terms of sound, RealEight delivers above and beyond. From lightning fast tapping, to shredding solos, RealEight offers a positively massive souund
RealEight can be played in 4 different configurations, a single guitar, a double, quad and bass. The Double and Quad modes are essentially like having more than one guitar playing the same notes at the same time.
Needless to say, with Quad enabled, a few amp sims and pedals after it, and you've got a certifiably massive sound.
Peel Guitar from Spitfire Audio (FREE)
The second Spitfire Audio entry on our list, Peel Guitar is part of the LABS sampling instrument. This means that this is a free guitar VST.
Created using a Fender Telecaster through a 15W vintage tweed amp, with added tremolo and distortion, the sound of Peel guitar is almost synonymous with British Indie music.
This is a free guitar vst, so, just like other LABS instruments, you don't get much in terms of tone control or customizability, other than a few knobs and sliders. That being said, don't let the simplicity of the UI dissuade you, this is one of the best sounding free Guitar VSTS
How Does It Sound?
Peel Guitar has a single tone mode, which is the aforementioned telecaster tone. The vibrato and distortion on your sound makes Peel guitar great at both standing out in the mix and laying down chords.
It's hard to describe tone, so we'll let Spitfire talk for themselves.
What is a VST Guitar?
A VST Guitar is essentially a digital guitar, you can play with MIDI. That can be either using a piano roll, to program your guitar notes, or playing them with a MIDI keyboard.
Either you can't afford a classic vintage guitar and amp, to add to your music arsenal, or you just want something simple to add a few guitar notes in, a digital, VST Guitar is an awesome tool.
Some plugins also come with Strumming patterns, chord detection and other types of assists, that let even complete novices, play the guitar like a touring professional.
Do Guitar VSTs Really Sound That Good?
Most guitar VSTs in 2023, sound miles better, than what a lot of producers record at home. What sets the great apart from the not so great, however, is playability.
In terms of sound, you'd need thousands of dollars in equipment and vintage gear, to successfully reproduce the sound quality of some of these plugins.
Sound quality does not matter in the least however when your playability is clunky, slow and tiresome. Other than that, you shouldn't worry about how good a VST Guitar sounds, because truthfully, most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway.
How Do I Choose A Guitar VST?
So we've given you options, now, to have you make a choice. Let's look at some things you should consider before buying any virtual instruments.
You want the best bang for your buck, the most fish in your boat. With options, comes freedom. Anything from mic-position, to cab selection to performance options, plays a big part, when getting the best guitar sound possible.
With that said, option paralysis can be a real issue, and you need to consider your needs. If you're looking for an in-depth monster, with all the possibilities, go for something like Scoring Guitars or Ambient Guitars.
If you want something more simple and laid back, try Electric Sunburst, as well as in our opinion, the best free guitar vst, Peel Guitar from Spitfire Audio.
Pricing and Budget are usually the biggest considerations when purchasing anything, not just plugins.
First of all, it's important to know your budget, what you're willing to spend for a guitar sound. That being said, it might not always be the best to go with the cheapest option.
Some, cheaper guitar software can sound less than realistic and even robotic. Not to say all cheap plugins sound bad, but in a market where sampling expertise and technique is everything, more often than not, the more expensive option will sound better than the cheaper one.
Importance of sampling over emulating.
When it comes to realism, it's important to choose the right instrument for the job. It'd be unfair to say emulated instruments sound worse, but in the case of realism, there is an argument to be made.
With Sampling, you can recreate all the tiny intricacies and nuances that go into what humans perceive as “real” sounding. No matter what, synthesized emulations will not bring with them an organic and natural sound.
We've tried to include more or less only sampled instruments in our list however, so you don't have to worry about that 🙂
Lastly, before you go and buy anything, it's worth checking if the developer offers a free trial. Try before you buy, and you'll only be better off for it.
No matter the amount of videos and reviews you've looked at, if you haven't yet used it, you can't say much about whether it fits your production style or not.
If a trial is available, download it first!
What is The Best Guitar Amp Simulation Software?
Having a guitar is one thing, to make your tone even more realistic and pleasant, you'll need an amp sim.
While you can re-amp your plugins through real amps, usually, it's just simpler to use a digital amp.
Guitar Rig 5 is probably the best overall collection of amp sims, stompboxes and other signal processing units. With tons of amps and other hardware, you'll never miss your real amp ever again.
If you don't want to spend money on an amp sim however, consider going for a Free amp sim. We'd suggest the Blue Cat amps for versatility and quality.
Additionally, feel free to check out our list of the best free guitar amp simulators!
How To Make a Guitar VST Sound Real
Making a guitar VST sound realistic is a balance between your arrangement and mixing.
Guitars only have 6 strings, so you can't write chords like you do on the piano. We suggest looking up guitar chords and inversions, to use instead. Articulation and strumming also helps to add a layer of realism into your performance.
If you want to learn more about chords, and how to write awesome progressions and pads, we made a great little tutorial for you.
When mixing and processing your guitars, use a good amp sim and cabinet simulator, as well as subtle room reverb, if you want to emulate a real studio recording.
Adjusting your dynamics, either by using a compressor, limiter or saturator, can make your tone more consistent, which will also help to make your sound more realistic.
Whether you want to add some light Stratocaster chords to your song, or make a high gain metal track, you don't really need a real guitar anymore.
Virtual instruments have gotten so good, that added processing like amp simlation, can bring your VST instruments on par with a real guitar.
Music Production professionals already use a lot of these instruments, and so should you, even if you already own and play a real guitar.
With a wide range of possibilities on offer, finding the best guitar vst can be tough. With that being said, we hope you found a good addition to your studio setup.
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Toms is a music producer & DJ, born and raised in Post Soviet Latvia. Currently based in Brighton, Toms has had over 6 years of experience with all things production and in that time, he's done a tonne of cool stuff! He's played multiple festivals, had experience in the field with mixing & mastering and even become a freelance journalist in the music industry.
Toms currently creates music under the alias Sovereign. Producing music that's intimate and subtle, while full of edge and energy, the young producer combines the artistic sounds of Trip Hop artists like Massive Attack, with the energy and youthfulness of producers like Flume, Jamie XX and Yaeji. You can check his stuff on Soundcloud.