Guitar is one of the toughest instruments to sample for a plugin. There’s so much detail and nuance that’s just too easy to lose in translation. Most of the time they end up sounding over-processed and fake—really far from the real thing. Still, a handful of developers have actually figured it out and done an incredible job! These are the best FREE guitar VSTs to fill out productions; no guitarist or previous guitar experience required!
If you’re looking for amp sims to play through, or impulse responses for the most realistic virtual rig, check out these other articles:
Ample Guitar M Lite by Ample Sound brings the sound of a Martin D-41 acoustic right to your studio in this intricately sampled virtual instrument. This free guitar VST is the little brother to a heftier paid version, but includes plenty to work with. You’ll get close to 1GB of sounds for fingerstyle acoustic, complete with realistic articulations like hammer-ons, pull-offs, and palm mutes.
DSK Dynamic Guitars contains three different styles: acoustic, nylon, and steel. It provides complete ADSR control, monophonic or polyphonic voices, and built-in reverb. It also has dynamic velocity response to make it feel more like the real thing, even if you’re programming it through a MIDI controller. Overall it’s a very expressive and responsive free guitar VST.
The Spitfire LABS series is just incredible, and if you’ve never checked it out, here’s a fine place to start. LABS is an “infinite” collection of totally free virtual instruments that gets routine updates and additions. Spitfire Audio is already known for its immaculate virtual instrument libraries, and LABS brings that quality and attention to detail to users for free.
The Peel Guitar is a Fender Telecaster run through a vintage tweed amp with a bit of vibrato, tremolo, and distortion—a sound synonymous with British indie music. All LABS instruments require the proprietary sample loader, which is also free, of course! Note, too, that Peel Guitar isn’t the only instrument available free from LABS. Feel free to download the other guitar samplers in the collection.
Spooky season is year-round, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Haunted Guitar Lite is a unique free guitar VST made with a multi-sampled Fender Strat. Each of the 8 presets in the plugin features 28 samples processed with various effects to get some really dark and creepy guitar sounds, for a total of 224 different samples. As a bonus, the GUI is pretty creepy as well.
Shreddage 3 Stratus by Impact Soundworks is a great free Kontakt library. It features an S-type guitar with up to three octaves of range and up to 24 samples per note. Articulations include sustain, palm mutes, and chokes for that extra touch of realism.
Emissary by STL Tones is an amp simulator plugin and a brilliant one at that. It’s a model of a two-channel amplifier with a clean/crunch channel and a high-gain lead channel. This is obviously perfect for metal guitarists, especially those modern ones who utilize a variety of tones within a single song. Emissary isn’t exclusive to metal players, though, because it’s versatile enough to work for other genres as well. It comes with six free cabinet IRs, so it’s everything you need to get into amp simulation plugins for free.
Komplete Start by Native Instruments is one of the best free plugin bundles you can get. It includes a total of 16 instruments and two effects. Of the sampled instruments in the selection, there’s a plugin called BAND that houses 13 rock/pop instruments itself. These include electric guitar and bass, though clearly the bundle is much more versatile than just that!
Pettinhouse has a good handful of free guitars to pick from, as well as tons of other instruments. The acoustic, funk, and warm jazz guitars are all excellent instruments in their own way. If you’re looking for a bit more variety, sift through what Pettinhouse has to offer in the way of free guitar VSTs to flesh out your collection.
Conclusion: Best Free Guitar VSTs
We tend to overlook guitars when it comes to VSTs. Strings, drums, horns, complete ensembles, synthesizers, and so many more tend to be the norm, though for some reason guitars seem off limits for sample libraries. Try any of the best free guitar VSTs here, though, and you’ll see the value it can add to your plugin collection and productions!