The guitar gets a section to itself. Here’s a list of the best freeware guitar software, from full virtual instruments to pedal effects…
VB-1 – Virtual bass instrument
Although technically discontinued, Steinberg still makes its classic VB-1 available for download. It has made it free, too. It was a staple of early Cubase VST systems, and although a little basic it’s fun and can bring a proper electric bass sound to your tracks.
It’s four-voice polyphonic, which is fine for bass, which is usually monotimbral, and has damper, pickup position, pick position and wave morph controls as well as a ramdomiser. In
a world of mega-sample libraries, it’s a refreshing 4.3MB.
W: http://www.steinberg.net/en/support/unsupported_products/vst_classics_vol_1.html – Platform: Mac, PC
Keolab Spicy Guitar – Acoustic guitar synthesiser
Acoustic guitars are pretty difficult instruments to recreate the sound of. You either use lots of samples, or as Keolab has done, model using synthesis to recreate the guitar tones.
There are nine types of guitar here: four folk, two classical, one flamenco, one jumbo and one gypsy, as well as a choice of nylon or steel strings. It works like Kontakt in that you have MIDI keys for playing notes and then control keys for the playing articulations, such as legato, palm mute, harmonics, sustain or chord detection. There are different chord types and a strumming engine to recreate the action of playing.
W: www.spicyguitar.com – Platform: Mac, PC
NI Guitar Rig Player Free – Guitar processing suite
Available as a plug-in or standalone app, this free version of NI’s monster Guitar Rig processing suite is a free giveaway, expandable with extra packs. You get one amp, 17 cabs and 13 effects from the full version, as well as 50 presets. These include the tube compressor, screamer, studio reverb and delay, two tape decks, a tuner and a metronome.
The software uses a drag and drop system and a tag-based browser, and there’s MIDI learn and automation support, plus Live View to streamline the workflow while playing live.
W: http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/guitar/guitar-rig-5-player/ – Platform: PC
Voxengo Tube Amp – Virtual tube amplifier
Tube Amp is an AU and VST plug-in that applies asymmetric tube triode overdrive usually found in single-tube microphone pre-amp boxes. The sound this plugin produces varies from a mild ’warm’ overdrive to a fuzzy distortion.
It also includes a -6dB/oct low-pass filter that’s built into the plugin’s tube/valve modeling equation, and can imitate a lower-quality tube triode. There’s a switchable output saturation stage, which can be used to overdrive the output signal and all the standard Voxengo plugin features, such as full multi-channel operation, channel routing and built-in oversampling. It’s great for guitars and for dirtying up sounds such as vocals, drums or synths.
W: www.voxengo.com – Platform: Mac, PC
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite – VST guitar plug-in suite
This suite of plug-ins models various amps and analogue processors. Among the models are a Boss DS-1 distortion and SD-1 overdrive, Tube Screamer, phaser, modulation, a ’69 Fender Twin and a Marshall JCM900 Dual Reverb.
It’s provided as-is with no support, but it’s still well worth checking out if you’re on a PC. According to the developers, it was born inside an academic research project about the modelling of electric devices, and then applied to the musical instrument field as an evolution of the techniques available in commercial units. Its most important feature is the high precision of the simulation.
W: http://www.simulanalog.org/guitarsuite.htm – Platform: PC