16 Best Amp Simulators For Epic Tones (Free & Paid)


The popularity of amp simulators among guitar players is increasingly on the rise.

And no wonder! Authentic amp tones, endless effects, infinite tone tweaking, and hassle-free recording, what’s not to love?

But with so many amp simulators on the market, it’s a tough task to pick the best virtual rig creator for your professional recording, experimenting, or jamming needs. 

Luckily, my post is the ultimate roundup of the best paid and free amp simulators for your convenience. 

What This Post Is About

Whether you’re on the hunt for a free simple plugin or a huge virtual tone library for creating your dream rig, this post has got you covered for players with a range of experience levels and budgets.  

Before downloading any amp sim, there are some key things you must know before opening your wallet to a pricey program. 

Always Try The Free Demo 

Before you drop any serious money on any software, always try the free demo. Most programs include a free demo to download so you can try before you buy. 

When trying out any programs free demo you should…

  • Test how genuine the amp sim and effects sound
  • Test the responsiveness of the EQ
  • Test the friendliness and usability of the interface 
  • Test out how easy it is to add, remove and edit presets
  • View the visuals   
  • Uncover any potential hardware or software issues or clashes 
  • Check CPU usage
  • Determine if the amp sim is the right software for you before buying the paid version 

Without further ado, Let’s get into it…

1. AmpliTube 4 MAX – Best Complete Amp Simulator

For many years now, IK Multimedia did a pretty great job at producing some of the best guitar amplifier simulations on the market with its AmpliTube series of products.

And to be fair, their AmpliTube 4 MAX comes at the very top. 

Why AmpliTube4 is a Complete Tone Library

And we’re talking both the quality and quantity here – 80 different amps, along with 92 cabinets, 24 rack-mounted effect simulations, 88 different pedals, 19 microphone models, and 2 tuners. 

The sheer number of these amps gives a lot of flexibility in tone-shaping processes.

The list of amp brands includes Fender, Orange, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, and even Soldano. As for pedals and other effects, we have a wide collection of model replicas that includes brands like Fulltone, Wampler, T-Rex, Morley, Zvex, and many others.

Furthermore, Amplitube 4 provides a mindblowing amount of customization along with all these presets which include: cabinet customization, microphone customization, and room ambience controls to dial in that perfect guitar tone. 

 It really does provide a complete guitar tone library of diversity for creating an army of authentic guitar tones for recording or jamming. 

However, this also poses a problem – with so many great amps and other pieces of gear, it gets hard to choose, maybe even too complicated for some users. 

But if you’re willing to spend a lot of time searching for your perfect combination, be it simple or a complex one, you just can’t ever go wrong with AmpliTube MAX package. 

Features

  • 92 amps
  • 88 pedals
  • 24 rack-mounted effects
  • 19 microphones
  • 2 tuners
  • Integrated recorder
  • 4-track looper
  • Can be used with MIDI controllers
  • Standalone mode
Pros
  • Very convincing replicas of famous amplifiers
  • An abundance of tone-shaping options
  • Complex signal chains
  • Can be used as a live rig with a MIDI controller switch
  • All in one solution for recording and jamming
Cons
  • Complicated for beginners
  • Very expensive for beginners
  • High CPU usage

Conclusion

It doesn’t take long to realize that the product is for professional or semi-pro users. It’s designed to completely replace entire amps and elaborate rigs in studios and provide experienced producers with a lot of options for guitar tones. 

2. BIAS FX 2 (Elite) – Best For Complete Tone Studio

Positive Grid also holds some mind-blowing realistic guitar-oriented plugins in their arsenal.

For this list, we would like to single out and take a closer look at their BIAS FX 2 Elite plugin and package of amp and effect simulations.

BIAS FX 2 comes with 100 amps, 100 effects, and 18 rack units.

However, it’s not the number of options that’s so amazing, but how well they’re made. The improved DSP engine makes it super realistic, even replicating the warmth and sonic realism of tube amps.

Simple Interface

The first thing that we find to be interesting is the overall interface and how easy it is to use.

It requires some experience and skill if you want to create more elaborate rigs, but it’s also very simple if you just want to add an amp, a few effects, and rock out.

The interface adopts a very simple ‘drag and drop’ style for crafting guitar tones at will. 

But you can create a full rig with multiple amps and rack-mounted units, work in stereo mode, or anything else you might need for live or studio settings.

We also have a very clear pedalboard surface where you can freely arrange pedals. 

‘Guitar Match’ – Emulate Famous Guitars

There’s also their “Guitar Match” feature that can completely change your guitar’s core sound and turn it into a completely different instrument. 

‘Guitar match’ is a unique feature that samples your guitar’s pickups, it then emulates a pickup of your choice giving you the option to change your guitar’s core tone altogether.

For example, if you have a guitar with a humbucker pickup you can select a single-coil pickup which gives you a more spanky and bright tone.  

ToneCloud – Upload and Download Custom Rigs

And lastly, we can’t forget about ‘Tonecloud.’ Why not share your favorite tones with other users?

ToneCloud is Positive Grid’s online community allowing users to upload and download created presets. It enables you to try out other creations or upload your own custom tones.  

Features

  • 100 amps
  • 100 pedals
  • 18 rack-mounted unit simulations
  • 200 presets
  • Guitar Match
  • ToneCloud community 
  • Standalone 
Pros
  • Amazing and realistic tone
  • Complex rigs
  • Clear and easy-to-use interface
  • 200 easily-accessible presets
  • Guitar Match adds diversity
  • ToneCloud feature adds versatility
  • Can be paired with BIAS AMP 2
Cons
  • Might be complicated for some users
  • Expensive option

Conclusion

BIAS FX 2 is another example of a pro-level high-end amp simulator. However, what makes it stand out is a very large amp model collection, which is useful for producers working with musicians of many different genres. 

3. BIAS AMP 2 (Elite) – Best Option For Designing Custom Amps 

Knowing Positive Grid’s great reputation, we can’t help but include another one of their fantastic amp simulators to the table.

This time, we have their BIAS AMP 2, more precisely the Elite package.

The most striking thing about this software is the fact that you can basically create your own virtual amplifier from the ground up.

It’s not your regular amp simulator. To be fair, it’s an ‘amp building simulator!’

You essentially create your virtual dream amplifier from scratch. This is pretty insane, it’s perfect for tube amp purists who love to nerd up about technical aspects of amplifiers.

You have the option to choose and tweak all intricate components of your custom amp including the preamps, power amps, transformer, electronics, casing, and speaker cabinets.

‘Amp Match’ – Create Tones With One Click

There’s also the company’s “Amp Match” feature that lets you create models of your own physical amps or an amp from a recorded audio track.

The software does the work for you, it provides the virtual amp and eq settings from the audio it receives either from an audio track or your physical amplifier. This feature essentially allows you to get your favorite guitar tones faster. 

Again, Tonecloud is included with BIAS AMP 2 allowing players to show off their prized virtual creations, or download other users presets for more variation to your army of virtual amps. 

While we can list all the countless features and explain how they work in detail, what’s really important to note is that BIAS AMP 2 is heavily focused on bringing realistic tube amp simulations. 

The very feel of hitting a chord or a single note will make you believe you’re playing through an actual vintage amp. With the Elite package, you also get a lot of models of Official Celestion speakers.

Features

  • Custom amp creator
  • Wide choice of individual components
  • Modular plugin with very detailed controls
  • Options for modeling physical amps
  • Reamping feature
  • upload custom Impulse responses
  • Standalone mode
Pros
  • Offers immersive virtual amp building
  • Completely modular and extremely versatile
  • Comes with Celestion speaker simulations
  • Very realistic tube-like tones
  • Amp Match feature is cool and useful
  • Reamping features
  • Can be paired with BIAS FX 2
Cons
  • Only for advanced users
  • Not ideal as a complete tonal library like BIAS FX
  • Limited effects

Conclusion

It’s pretty clear that BIAS AMP 2 is a full-blown professional plugin. Completely modular, you’re able to “invent” your own amp with this. Just combine any of the previously unthought-of components, and the options are almost endless. It’s not a complete tonal library as it lacks effects and other elements you will want in a full-scale rig. However, it serves as an excellent platform for adding other free plugins to substitute for this.  

4. Helix Native 

Over the years, Line 6 has been pushing the limits of amp modeling with their multi-effects guitar processors.

It was only a matter of time when they’d a software version of some of their technologies.

With their Helix Native, Line 6 expands its Helix family and brings it to a whole new level. Aside from 60 amps and 100 effects, we also have 30 different speaker cabinet emulations.

Contains The Most Presents

Helix Native delivers the most presets on this entire list although it is also one of the most expensive amp simulators you can buy.

Amp presets are modeled from every popular amp company including Mesa Boogie, Marshall, Fender, Orange, Vox, Bogner, Soldano, and many more.

Guitar tones sound authentic with Helix Natives engine and modeling technologies rivaling other premium amp sims. 

Slider Interface

Helix Native is designed in such a way to be easy to use.

In contrast with some other amp simulations on this list, this one is a good option even for those who are not as experienced in this field. And all this is possible with very realistic tones, even of tube amplifiers. 

The interface is not the most visually appealing focusing on using sliders instead of cool amplifier visuals like other sims.

However, players like to customize with minimal bells and whistles offering little distractions when it comes to tone sculpting. 

However, the sliders offer a great amount of tonal customization and options for tone tweaking, it’s also handy that this software allows you to upload custom impulse responses IR if the stock ones are not to your tastes. 

But what’s also really exciting is that Line 6 made it possible to transfer all the presets to any of their physical units. Find your perfect tones and easily transfer them to any other floor or rack-based Helix devices. 

Features

  • 60 amp models
  • 100 effects
  • 30 cabinets
  • Works in conjunction with Line 6 Helix devices
  • Import IR’s
  • Slider interface
Pros
  • You can transfer your presets to any Helix family device
  • Optimized to work well with any standard DAW
  • Simple to use
  • Hyper-realistic tones
  • Works with 3rd party impulse responses
Cons
  • Most expensive option on this list
  • The interface is a bit bland
  • No standalone version for an expensive amp sim

Conclusion

Although versatile, it’s the best idea to use this amp sim if you have products from Line 6’s Helix series. It only gets its full potential when you combine it with them and use it for studio sessions and potentially live performances. Nonetheless, it’s a professional recording and jamming plugin. 

5. Guitar Rig 5 Pro – Popular Amp Sim  

Of course, if there’s a talk about guitar amp simulators, there’s no way that we can avoid mentioning Native Instruments and their legendary Guitar Rig.

Although similar to previous versions at a first glance, Guitar Rig 5 Pro sees a big advancement in the world of amp simulators. 

The main thing that we need to point out about this amp simulator is its overall simplicity.

Just line up the components in the stacked interface and you’re good to go. You can even use its simple recorder to lay down some guitar tracks or play to a backing track. 

The collection of amps and other components, however, is not as large as the plugins that we mentioned above which are somewhat reflected in the more affordable price.  

There are 17 amps, along with 27 cabinets, and 54 effects in total. Although somewhat modest, the collection includes some realistic models of Marshall, Fender, Mesa Boogie, Orange, Vox, and other amps.

There’s also one amazing model of Roland’s famous Jazz Chorus amplifier with its famous stereo chorus in all its glory. 

Mic models are really good and you can also completely reinvent the tone by implementing and mixing in different combinations of mic models.

Furthermore, how you place them in front of any amp’s speaker affects tone giving you total flexibility over your sound.   

Guitar Rig 5 Pro is an excellent choice that won’t break the bank compared to other paid sims but offers plenty in terms of amps, cabinets, and pure tonal customization for professional recording and jamming alike.  

Features

  • 17 amps
  • 27 cabinets
  • 54 effects
  • Control Room Pro for microphone placing and mix
  • Tuner
  • Recording and Playback features
  • Standalone 
Pros
  • Easy to use interface
  • Very realistic amps and effects tones
  • Up to 8 microphone sims in the Control Room feature
  • Easy-to-do stereo presets
  • Versatile amount of tones for a wide range of genres
Cons
  • Amp collection is small for this price

Conclusion

The best thing about Guitar Pro 5 is that it has a wide use. Any genre, any skill level, and any other preferences – it’s a very useful plugin. Maybe not the ultimate choice for high-gain stuff, but it’s still very versatile in many musical genres. 

6. Overloud TH3

Overloud is one of those companies that focuses solely on digital products.

But at the same time, they manage to create some pretty realistic-sounding guitar amp and effects models all across their arsenal of products. 

This can also be heard in their good reliable TH3. Pretty similar to TH2, it’s an improved and updated version that brings their amp models to a whole new level. 

Compared to its predecessor, TH3 plugin comes with 24 new amplifiers, 3 of which are for bass and the rest that are for regular guitars.

We can also find 10 more effects and 7 more cabinets. But the one thing that TH3 is praised for is its great tones and selection of amps and effects. The amp simulations manage to keep the tones pretty realistic. 

But one thing that caught our attention is its intuitive interface and overall ease of use.

You may not get some of the features that we discussed in the plugins described above. But it’ll definitely be simple for you to make a regular signal chain and just play. 

Features

  • An upgraded version of TH2
  • 24 new amps
  • 10 new effects
  • 7 new cabinets
  • Standalone mode
Pros
  • The intuitive interface makes it easy to use
  • great tones
  • cool amp and effect visuals
  • Caters well to the metal players
Cons
  • Not as versatile compared to other high-end plugins
  • Not as popular as other premium amp sims

Conclusion

Despite the lack of versatility in the price level, there’s still a lot of stuff that you can do with Overloud’s TH 3. Maybe not as professional as some plugins that we mentioned above, but it’s still a good choice for experienced advanced guitarists. 

7. Peavey ReValver 4 – Best Affordable Amp Sim (Most Value) 

Knowing that Peavey made some of the best amps, especially for hard rock and metal music, it was only a matter of time until they’d go into the plugin territories and create something nice here.

If we’re talking about the digital amp modeling game, Peavey’s ReValver comes up as a perfect budget option. 

But despite its relatively lower price, ReValver 4 comes with some surprisingly versatile tone-shaping features.

Firstly, you can completely model every individual component of an amplifier. And even if you choose an already available amp model, you can always tweak an individual component and get the right sound. 

To add to this equation, there’s also a detailed cabinet modeling feature that lets you choose different speaker combinations, as well as microphone models and microphone placing.

And the most essential component is there – the tone. You not only get a very realistic representation of these amps but also that true dynamic response.

As if all this wasn’t enough for such an affordable plugin, there are even instrument models helping you change things right at the very input.

All this is rounded up with the option to combine third-party plugins within ReValver’s own interface.  

Another cool aspect is that you don’t just get Peavey amplifiers, you get a selection of other amp brands with a great bundle of effects.

This amp sim is a great option for players who don’t want to go fork out a small fortune and just get started with digital amp simulator plugins. 

Features

  • Individual component modeling
  • Cabinet modeling
  • Instrument simulation
  • Standalone 
Pros
  • Very versatile for its price
  • Great value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Realistic amp and pedal models
  • Great tones and a nice amount of features
  • Slick interface
Cons
  • Nothing for its price level

Conclusion

The one thing that Peavey ReValver 4 stands out for is its great value for the money. The option to add third-party plugins also makes it a great choice for anyone who loves modular stuff and who likes to have many options at their disposal. 

8. ToneLib GFX – Awesome Affordable Amp Sim 

As you can see, we love value for money. And because of this, we’d single out ToneLib GFX. 

This software is somewhat considered a premium amp sim killer. Why? Well, this software comes packed with many amps, effects, tools, and features for a fraction of the price.

ToneLib GFX stands up to many of the expensive amp sims without forking out a hefty price.  

ToneLib GFX provides a simple interface that comes with easy-to-make presets, as well as a vast library of premade presets. There’s also a nice collection of 18 pretty realistic amp models, as well as a vast choice of effects pedal models.

Although we don’t have any names mentioned, it’s clear that some of these are copies of Marshall, Vox, Fender, and other big brands.  

But aside from these models being done according to the original circuits, what makes it so special is that it runs really smoothly, even if you don’t have a top-tier computer and an audio interface. To add to all this, we have a very clear and precise interface. 

As we said, it’s really easy to use, but you rarely ever find such simplicity along with its drag-and-drop feature for creating signal chains.

We also have an option for playing along to backing tracks and even simple demo recording. So aside from the tone, the focus is on functionality and simplicity.

If you are new to the world of amp emulation software,  ToneLib GFX is the perfect platform before upgrading to an expensive program.  

Features

  • 18 amps
  • Abundance of effects pedals
  • Onboard recorder
  • Metronome
  • Tuner
  • Standalone 
Pros
  • A very intuitive interface makes it easy to use
  • Pretty realistic-sounding amp and pedal tones
  • Great premade presets
  • Amazing value for a small price
  • Great for beginners
Cons
  • Not as versatile as some other plugins

Conclusion

Intuitive interface and its overall simplicity and really good tones are what made it our personal favorite. There were definitely some more versatile plugins here, but this amp sim just combines simplicity with great features, which is extremely important. 

9. Softube Vintage Amp Room – Best For Vintage Tones 

There are still many guitarists who prefer vintage over modern stuff. These players can’t ever go wrong with Softube Vintage Amp Room. 

Fittingly enough, even the plugin’s interface is designed in such a way to be appealing to vintage tone lovers. But all the aesthetics aside, we have three basic amp models, all focusing on the old school vacuum tube-driven stuff. 

Labeled as White, Brown, and Green, each model represents a specific group of amps for different uses.

Anything from the blues-driven and old school rock ‘n’ roll 1950s and up to classic 1980s rock. You can pull it off using Softube’s Vintage Amp Room. 

Of course, despite its very modest choice of amps, microphone placing simulations are really top-notch. To be fair, you’d be surprised how very realistic these amplifiers and microphone models can get. The dynamic response is incredible. 

Vintage amp room provides a cool display of vintage style amps with enough EQ options to create sweet classic era tones. This amp sim focuses on the vintage decades of guitar tones and is specific to classic rock guitar players. 

Features

  • Three basic amplifier models
  • Microphone models and detailed microphone positioning
  • Focused on vintage amplifiers
  • One bass amplifier
Pros
  • Incredibly realistic tube amp tones
  • Microphone placement is very detailed
  • Simple interface and easy to use
  • Emulated classic tube amp tones
Cons
  • Modest choice of amps
  • Not the most versatile amp sim
  • No reverb
  • No standalone version

Conclusion

It’s pretty simple – Softube Vintage Amp Room is focused solely on vintage-oriented tones. But its best traits shine the most when implemented in blues and blues-rock music. You will get the most out of this sim if you love classic era guitar tones.  

10. Fortin Nameless & Fortin NTS – Best High-Gain Amp Sims 

We’re going to cheat a little and include two plugins on one spot. The two amp sims in question are both made by Neural DSP. 

Both menacing-looking plugins are regarded as the best high gain amp sims on the market. All at an affordable price with simple applications and brutal high gain tones. First, let’s look into Fortin Nameless. 

Fortin Nameless 

Although just one amp, it still provides a lot of options, the selling point is the clarity of high gain goodness.

This plugin brings very simple operation along with fairly detailed controls and precise amp models.

You can either use it as a plugin for DAWs or as standalone software. The standalone version can be pretty useful and reliable for dropping in your designated DAW for heavily distorted guitar tracks. 

However, the plugin is just one “Nameless” amp that does only distorted tones, it can be used for hard rock and can do classic rock territory. 

Fortin NTS

Then we have Fortin NTS, which also comes with just one amp model, but is slightly more versatile.

In addition to its heavy distorted tone, you also get a clean channel, along with more parameter controls which is an absent feature on the “Nameless.” 

As for cabinet controls, mic models, and features, both of these plugins are pretty much the same. Overall, they’re both focused solely on high-gain tones. 

But despite its very narrow orientation, these are easily the best (in our opinion) high-gain amp models on the market. They both come with a very simple interface and include a standalone mode which is useful for on the fly riffing. 

Features

  • Single-amp plugins
  • Focused on high-gain tones
  • Cabinet and microphone modeling
  • A few pedal models are included
  • Both include Standalone mode
Pros
  • Great for high-gain tones
  • Hands-on approach, making it simple to use
  • Cabinet models are pretty great as well
  • Perfect for metal players
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • It’s just one amp for each plugin
  • Not the best for clean tones

Conclusion

Neural DSP is well-known for its great modern-oriented tones, so these two plugins are a great choice for anyone looking for sparkling modern cleans, sparkling crunchy drives, as well as crushing heavy riffing tones. 

11. Kuassa Amplifikation Matchlock – Best Amp Sim for Clean Tones 

Of course, as you can see, guitar amp modeling programs are not always cheap. It’s certainly cheaper compared to having a large luxurious collection of amps, but it’s still expensive enough to make you think whether it’s worth it for your needs. 

Well, we’ve all been there. However, there’s always a solution that won’t make you drain your life savings. Such is the case with Kuassa Amplification and their Matchlock guitar amp simulator. 

Kuassa amplifikation is suited to Fender esq tones with a nod to the vintage era of rock guitar sounds.

This one comes as Kuassa’s second plugin in their third generation of products made with their signature Tube Simulation technology. You may not get the tone that’s as realistic as some other plugins, and you may not get the diverse palette of options, but it’s still more than worth its price. 

It comes with three basic amp models, all focused on the old Fender stuff. We have Twin Reverb, Vibrolux Reverb, and Super Reverb models. All of these amps are ideal for clean, crunch, and driven tones for all the classic rock enthusiasts out there.   

Each amp features two channels, covering both clean and distorted tones. Aside from this, you can choose from five different cabinets and seven different microphones. There are a few other interesting features, including power sag, stereo mode, noise gate, limiter, and others. 

Features

  • 3 vintage Fender amp models
  • 5 cabinets
  • 7 microphone models
  • Each amp comes with clean and distorted channels
  • Stereo mode
  • Noise gate
  • Limiter
Pros
  • Very affordable, the quality surpasses the price range
  • Great tube amp tone for the price
  • Simple to use
  • Great dual-miking options
  • Perfect for emulated vintage Fender tone
Cons
  • Only three amp models
  • No standalone mode

Conclusion

Kuassa Amplifikation Matchlock is another great example of vintage-oriented plugins. Just like with Softube Vintage Amp Room, this is another great option for blues-oriented guitar players. 

12. Scuffham S-Gear 

Although you won’t find Scuffham to be as super popular as some other brands, they still have wonderful products to offer. 

One of them is definitely S-Gear, which is one very useful and potent guitar amp modeling software. 

It’s intended as a simple plugin where all you’re supposed to do is plug your guitar into your audio interface. Set up a simple signal chain, and rock out. 

The resulting tones are pretty decent, no matter the type of music that you’re aiming for. 

The interface was pretty interesting to us. Although it gets some of that slightly outdated vibe, it’s really straightforward and easy to use. 

There’s a section for the amp, and below you can find a section for rack-mounted units. There are five amps in total, and although that’s not a lot, the plugin still provides you with an abundance of options, especially with the choice of effects. 

Overall, the plugin is capable of doing great clean, overdriven, and classic distorted tones. However, it’s not exactly the best option for high gain stuff. If you’re looking for that kind of tone, you should skip S-Gear. 

Features

  • 5 amp models
  • Additional effects and post-effects
  • Standalone mode
Pros
  • Flexible tone-shaping options
  • Easy to use
  • Great clean and overdriven tones
  • Very Affordable
Cons
  • Not the most flashy option

Conclusion

Although not a fully professional plugin like some others that we already mentioned on the list; it provides a great variety of options, especially in the clean and overdrive territories. This makes it great for rock, hard rock, and some classic metal musicians.  

13. Ignite Amps Emissary – Best Free High-Gain Metal Plugin

The thirst for high-gain stuff never stops, especially these days. But a problem comes with the fact that you usually need to spend a lot to get a quality tone in these territories.

However, Ignite Amps’ Emissary plugin is an exception as it offers amazing modern metal tones free of charge. Of course, if you like them, they’re open for donations. 

Of course, this is one of the company’s single-amp plugins. And it’s a “digital replica” of an amp of the same name made for Ryan Huthnance. 

But despite having just one amplifier model, it’s pretty detailed with its controls and provides some very realistic features that you don’t see with similar plugins. 

We have two channels, clean and lead. However, despite some okay clean tones, the main accent is on the high-gain stuff. To be quite honest, the lead channel sounds so good and realistic that we’re wondering how this plugin may be free of charge.  

The Emissary is an extremely popular plugin in the metal recording community used by beginners and professional recording artists alike.

If you love metal tones, the Emissary is a must-try for a brutal high-gain amp with no expenses attached.  

The only downside is that the Emissary does not come with a standalone mode meaning you will have to load this plugin inside a DAW to hear its awesome tones.

Secondly, you will also need to pair this plugin with a designated cab simulator to hear it in all its glory but this is a small drawback.  

Overall, the Emissary has dominated as one of the most popular free plugins for raging high gain metal guitar tones for your professional tracks. 

Features

  • Free plugin
  • One amp model with clean and lead channels
  • Bright, Deep, and Shape features
  • Designed to be used as plugin
Pros
  • Amazing modern high-gain tones
  • More detailed controls for mids
  • Convincing tube-like dynamic response
  • Easy to use
  • Free of charge
Cons
  • Clean tones could be better
  • Need a cab simulator to go with the head
  • No standalone mode

Conclusion

We’re especially surprised with the addition of more detailed controls for mids, which is extremely important for heavy tones. If you’re a fan of modern metal tones and overall simple one-amp plugins, Emissary is the way to go. 

14. Blue Cat Audio Free Amp – Ideal For Beginners 

Continuing on this streak of free plugins, we also have a great example from Blue Cat Audio and an amp simulator simply named Free Amp. 

And its features are as straightforward as its name. We have only three amps on it, labeled as Classic Clean, Classic Drive, and Modern Drive.

Each comes with pretty much the same essential controls, including a 3-band EQ. These are essentially like Fender, Marshall, and Peavey amps, all focusing on their respective users and preferred genres. However, the main principles are based on the company’s famous Destructor distortion plugin.  

Although the tones are not exactly super-realistic, its strength comes with its simplicity. It’s another great example that makes it a great practice platform for beginners or intermediate players. 

For a free plugin, it’s great you can upload your own impulse responses for adding your own cabinets, microphones, and room set up adding more flexibility to this great free sim. 

There are even options to add third-party impulse responses to create cabinet emulations. And the best part is that it’s MIDI compatible, meaning that you can use external MIDI switches with your computer to change presets.

Features

  • Free plugin
  • 3 amp models
  • Compatible with third-party impulse responses and other effect plugins
Pros
  • Great option for beginners and intermediate players
  • Easy to make and easy to access presets
  • MIDI compatibility makes it useful for live shows
  • Does not use a lot of CPU
Cons
  • Although realistic, some high-gain tones could be better
  • No Standalone mode

Conclusion

If you’re a hobbyist or an intermediate guitar player looking for ways to get into the world of amp simulators, Blue Cat Audio Free Amp is a great place to start. Its overall simplicity makes it a good “gateway” amp sim to get you into the world of guitar studio recording. 

15. LePou Amp Pack – Popular Plugin Package

Speaking of free plugins, we need to look for something that’s useful for beginners as well. For this purpose, we’d single out LePou and their very useful collection of amp sims. 

Their Amp Pack is actually a collection of individual amp sims, covering many different styles with just a few amplifiers. 

The biggest problem, however, is that their website is no more as of this writing. Nonetheless, there are still places where you can find them online. 

There are 8 amps in total, each pretty much based on the same principles. You can get one amp but there are no cabinet simulators included. 

However, you can even use it with other impulse responses or cabinets from other plugins if you’re using them as VST plugins in DAWs. But overall, it’s their simplicity that makes it a great choice for beginners. 

Features

  • 8 separate amp sim plugins
  • Doesn’t come with cabinet sims
  • Every amp comes with essential controls
Pros
  • Sounds great, especially knowing these are free amp sims
  • Simple to use
Cons
  • You need to use it with an additional cabinet simulator
  • Their website no longer exists, and you need to look for ways to dig them up online
  • No Standalone mode

Conclusion

Sure, it’s not a flashy one, but it’s still possible to make good stuff with it. The stripped-down design and simple features are what make these plugins perfect choices for beginner players. You can even look at them as “educational tools” for studio work in some way. 

16. Voxengo Boogex

Lastly, we would like to get into Voxengo and their Boogex amp sim but what makes it different is its overall interface.  

Although it doesn’t seem important, the lack of any realistic-looking amp designs might be a downside for some users.

But even though it looks like a channel strip plugin, tone-shaping controls are pretty advanced. This is pretty surprising for a free plugin. 

There are 10 basic amp models on it, but its detailed controls make each of them very versatile. In addition, you get 61 cabinet impulses. 

It also comes with a few additional effects and features, including a reverb, specialized EQ, DynaCab processing, stereo mode, and even a very useful preset manager. As far as the overall performance goes, the sound gets pretty great if you know how to dial it in. 

The downside is that the interface is not that intuitive and easy to use for those who are not familiar with such plugins. But in the end, you can’t expect everything from a plugin that’s free of charge.

Features

  • 10 amp models
  • 61 cabinet impulse responses
  • Dyna Cab processing
  • Additional effects
  • Stereo mode
Pros
  • Great tone for a free plugin
  • Pretty versatile
  • Some professional-level features
Cons
  • Not the best-looking graphic interface, making it complicated for some users

Conclusion

Due to the fair amount of useful features, as well as its unique design, we’d recommend it to anyone who likes experimenting. Free Amp is a versatile plugin but it takes some additional experimenting to make good tones.

Amp Sim Buying Guide – What Your Money Gets You

Free Amp Sims 

Free amp sims are generally utilized as plugins to implement in any recording software (DAW).

But don’t be fooled by the visuals, some free amp sims sound excellent with some being very popular within the guitar recording community. 

They are not tone building suites like expensive programs. They usually include one or a handful of amps with a basic interface for adopting as a plugin in a DAW.

  • Usually includes one or a handful of amplifiers
  • Provide authentic tones for use in a DAW
  • Usually, require a cab simulator (IR response) to be paired with the sim 
  • The majority do not include a standalone version 
  • No tuner 
  • Basic visuals 
  • No effects 
  • Good for beginners new to recording and amp sims

Amp Simulators Costing $40 – $150 

Now we are heading into more serious options. This is a bigger step up from the free amp sims. For this price range, you will get a solid selection of amps, effects, and features you would expect from a paid program.

For this price range, you typically get all the features of the full premium versions just with fewer amps, effects, and overall presets. 

  • A satisfactory amount of amps, effects, special effects, and features for creating a wide selection of guitar tones.
  • Some have a limited selection of bass amps
  • Standalone version 
  • Tuner
  • A Good user interface with great visuals 
  • An online community to share and download user presets
  • Online store to download more presets  
  • A signal chain 
  • Edit, save, and recall presets 

This is a good price range for beginners or advanced players looking for enough options for tone across a range of musical genres.

This is ideal for players looking to record or jam with a satisfactory amount of tone sculpting options without breaking the bank.

Premium Amp Sims ($200-$300+)

Here we are at the business end of the spectrum. As you’ve guessed, the premium versions are the pick of the crop and offer the full package when you want everything in a high-end paid program. 

  • Huge selection of virtual amps, effects, cabinets, Special FX, etc.
  • Include a handful of bass amplifiers and effects 
  • Infinite options for tone sculpting 
  • Add, save, recall, and edit presets (built a pallet of sounds)
  • Virtual signal chain to add, edit tones
  • Customize cab speakers and room acoustics 
  • Great visuals 
  • Tuner 
  • Looper
  • Uses for Live application
  • Built-in recording interface
  • Ideal for recording guitarists, experienced guitarists, and tone nerd purists 

Final Thoughts 

Phew, that was a long post. I hope you have enjoyed the post as much as I did writing it. Here I have provided a list of awesome amp sims for professional guitar tones and long jamming sessions. I love the sound and flexibility of amp simulators and because of them, it’s an exciting time to be a guitarist as they advance in realism every year.  

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Adam

Adam is the founder and author of Tone Topics and dedicated to providing the best guitar content for like-minded gear nerds. Please enjoy all the content on the site and support us by sharing these posts with other people. It would really help us out!

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