The 7 Best Amp Simulators for Bass 2019 (Paid & Free)

Recording directly is as popular as ever nowadays. Loading up an amp sim is great for conveniently jamming, practicing, and recording bass without having to assemble a ton of gear.

With this ongoing trend, there is a vast virtual sea of amp simulators on the market to choose from (free and paid!)

Unfortunately, the majority of amp sims today are heavily tailored towards the six-string guitarists, while the bass players only get a fraction of bass amps and presets to choose from.

About This Post

From my experience learning bass and my love of amps sims. I have taken the time to construct this roundup post of the best amps simulators that are more tailored towards the bass players in 2019.

Jargon Busting

Plugin: (A programme application that can open within a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to enhance audio-related functionality.)

Standalone version: (A software that can open independently within the desktop without requiring to open inside a DAW to make use of its features)

#1 – Amplitube 4

  • Price: €149 (base version)
  • Bass amps: 1
  • Standalone version: Yes
  • Demo version: Yes
  • Plugin: Yes
  • Win/Mac
  • 64-bit only

Free Demo Here!

Created by IK Multimedia, Amplitube 4 is one of the top dogs when it comes to amp simulators. Amplitube 4 includes the most detail and depth when it comes to tone sculpting and the most realistic sounding selection of bass amplifiers on the market.

In my opinion, this software is one of the best-paid amp simulators, offering players iconic and infinite amounts of tone creation with an impressive level of detail and sonic realism. The interface also looks visually appealing and very easy to navigate for creating an arsenal of bass presets at will.

The level of customization in Amplitube 4 is insane, everything from…

  • Iconic modeled amps (guitar and bass)
  • Effects (stompboxes, distortion, reverb, modulation, delay etc)
  • Room ambiance simulation
  • Microphone selection and placement
  • Cabinet customization
  • Rack effects
  • Power tube customization
  • Built-in recording suite
  • Impressive visuals and interface
  • Tuner

I could go on for days about how detailed this programme is when it comes to tone sculpting. There is so much in this programme that will satisfy most tone freaks including the bass players.

The interface is easy to set up your ideal rig which can run in both standalone for practicing and jamming or a plug-in to record within your selected DAW.

The Base Version

When it comes to usability for bass players presets, the base versions only offers a single solid-state bass amp.

With that said, the level of customization with all aspects of your rig will be enough to keep you going and offer a lot of tone-sculpting options.

However, when you want to expand in tones with the likes of more bass amps, effects and presets here’s where the problem begins.

The negative with this sim is not the features and tones because they are spot on, the problem with Amplitube 4 is its pricing structure! Let me explain…

Pricing Structure

The negative with Amplitube 4 is as detailed, real, and accurate the presets sound. To get the full experience with a satisfactory amount of bass amps, cabinets, effects, and bass presets. You have to be willing to shell out a small fortune.

Either in the form of buying the ‘deluxe version’ which is not cheap at €299. Or buying the base version and paying for the official ‘Ampeg expansion packs’ or paying for individual amps and effects via the ‘IK Custom Shop.’

(The ‘IK Custom Shop’ is an online store to purchase and download extra packs or separate amps to your rig.)

Most Affordable Option

The deluxe version includes a ton of regular guitar amps but when it comes to the bass players, the deluxe version only includes a grand total of 3 bass amps (they do sound great though.)

The cheaper option would be to buy the base version at €149 and purchase the separate bass amps/packs and or any patches or effects you want from the IK Custom Shop.

The IK Custom Shop good for hand picking the amps, effects or whatever you want in your custom rig.

The problem is however, this can rack up a big bill fast as separate patches do not come cheap when purchased independently which quickly turns this amp sim into an endless money pit.

Why Amplitube 4?

Amplitube 4 is the option for bass players who want to invest a fair bit of money into a solid, usable, and fantastic sounding amp sim with tons of tone customization.

It is true that you pay for what you get in life and this is definitely the case with this software.

This option It is a little pricey but you will be rewarded with the investment of a solid amp sim to use for years to come with a crazy amount of tone customization and great sounding bass tones.

Which Version?

The version you go for depends on how far you want to invest for all of the bass presets.

Having the full programme would be ideal if you play guitar on the side or an avid recording bassist who wants the full palate of tones at their disposal.

In this case, Amplitube 4 is one of the most popular and overall best amp sim to give you an infinite amount of tones for your bass recording and jamming requirements.

Pros

  • Amazing sounding guitar and bass presets
  • Endless tone customization
  • Tons of features
  • Easy to create presets and your ideal rig
  • Use as standalone version or plugin
  • Ultimate all in one amp sim

Cons

  • Expensive investment
  • Have to invest money to get additional bass amps
  • Only supports 64 bit systems
  • Cheaper alternatives

2# – Bias Amp 2

  • Price: $299 (Elite version)
  • Bass amps: 4
  • Demo version: Yes
  • Standalone version: Yes
  • Plugin: Yes
  • 32 & 64-bit systems
  • Win/Mac

Free Demo Here!

Bias Amp 2 is somewhat different from most amp simulators. Most sims give you a selection of amps to twiddle and tweak the EQ parameters or even a few boost options.

However, Bias Amp 2 essentially allows players to build and design your own ‘custom bass amp’… literally from the ground up.

Players have the option to tweak the smallest details that go into amp design such as transformers, power tubes, preamp tubes, biasing, power supply and shelf frequencies.

And all these small details will affect the overall tone of the amp. For example, the way you tweak the transformers will affect the sound of the upper midrange.

This is a single example of how amazingly detailed this amp sim can be for sculpturing and creating your perfect core bass tone which will please all the tube amp players out there.

Features

The programme includes 4 bass amps presets which as mentioned, can be heavily tweaked and customized to your personal preferences when it comes to amp design.

This is before dialing the amps EQ or playing around with the selection of microphones, microphone placement, and cabinet speaker selection.

This programme gives the heavy tweakers and tube amp purists a field day when it comes to shaping your perfect bass tone.

This amp simulator focuses heavily on the level of customization that goes into the core amps design and elements which is good for tube amp purists.

Other features include theTonecloudwhich is an online community allowing users to upload and download amps presets created by members of the community.

Allowing users to audition and download some of the best presets rated and uploaded to the cloud adding users to share their best tones.

A noise gate is included and a selection of reverbs types to choose from with customizable parameters to dial in an ambient reverb to go with your perfect bass amp.

Sound

When it comes to sound and authenticity of a real tube amp, Bias Amp 2 has redesigned the previous engine used in the original Bias Amp.

Improving the responsiveness and realism when it comes to the dynamics, frequencies, and nuances of the sound of their line of tube amplifiers and cabs.

This new engine software, the tones are authentic and sound great when DI through any recording software adding a level of realism to any dry bass signal.

The Negatives

The only let down about this sim is there are no usual stompbox effects such as distortion, overdrive, flanger, phaser, or special effects etc like in other sims.

Another negative is that you have to pay the full price for the elite level to get the full experience which is not cheap at $299. Saying that however, with the level of customization from this sim there is a lot of features and some great professional tube amp tones available from Bias Amp 2.

Pros

  • Detailed and in-depth amp sim designer for bass and guitar
  • Authentic and responsive sound
  • High level of tone customization
  • Standalone version
  • Tonecloud community
  • Amp matching feature

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No effects

#3 – Helix Native

  • Price: $399
  • Bass amps: 13
  • Standalone: No
  • Demo Version: Yes
  • Win/Mac
  • Plugin: Yes

Free Demo Here!

Helix Native by Line 6 is one of the most expensive amp sims on this list but offers a huge array of presets. Including 60 amps, (13 bass amps), 30 cabs and 100+ effects accommodating nicely for bass players.

Helix Native features the most bass amps on this list all modeled form popular and iconic bass amps from ‘Hiwatt,’ ‘Ampeg’ and ‘Mesa Boogie’ for example.

Features

The interface follows a simple design of dragging, dropping presets into the signal chain with each aspect of the rig can be shaped with the designated sliders to change the dynamics of the sound.

This sim caters in the effect department with everything you could want for shaping your ideal tone and experimenting with sounds.

  • Distortion
  • Dynamics
  • EQ
  • Modulation
  • Delay/Reverb
  • Pitch Shift
  • Filters etc
  • Wah
  • Synth

This amp sim may not be the most visually appealing. But with lots of things going on inside a DAW, users can be thankful for the simple function of creating authentic bass tones without a cluttered interface. Excessive menus and other bells and whistles can distract from the usabailityin my opinion.

The Negative

The elephant in the room with this amp sim is the price! It is one of the most expensive options n this list and seems a lot of money for an amp sim just for using for bass.

On the plus side, you will have professional bass and guitar recording producers covered with a large number of amps, effects, and features.

This option would be a suitable option if you are a bass player that plays guitar on the side. Or if you happen to record other guitarists as a producer in a home studio situation.

Pros

  • Simple interface
  • Versatile selection of bass amps and cabs
  • Realistic tones
  • Large selection of effects
  • High level of tone customization

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No standalone version
  • Ugly interface

#4 – Softube Bass Amp Room

  • Price $149
  • Presets: 1 amp, 3 cabinets
  • Standalone Version: No
  • Free Demo: Yes
  • Plugin: Yes
  • Win/Mac

Free Demo Here!

Bass Amp Room by Softube stands out from most sims. Most programmes aim to please the masses with a ton of presets, effects and other bells and whistles. ‘Bass Amp Room’ from Softube however, do things differently…

Bass Amp Room only includes the one charming bass amp and a selection of 3 cabinets to choose from. So why am I recommending this considering the lack of bass amps?

The reason is that Softube have focused all their time and energy achieving the most ‘accurate’ and ‘realistic’ core sound from both head and 3 cabinets using their advanced modeling technology.

Although the interface looks simple, don’t underestimate the quality of tones from this sim. They are one of the most authentic that I have heard from any bass amp software.

What’s Included

The one available bass head replicates the iconic ‘Hiwatt DR103’ head while the bass cabinet is based off a classic ‘Ampeg’ 8×12 cab.

Bass Amp Room does an incredible job of simulating the tonal and sonic qualities of a bass tone down to the tee. Although added features are scarce, I will admit, the bass amp sims are one of the most authentic tonally.

The tone shaping abilities offer a good level of customization allowing you to modify the core building blocks of a tone. Everything from…

  • Amp Head EQ
  • Click and drag microphone placement
  • Microphone tilt (off axis)
  • DI EQ controls
  • Pickup input gain
  • Tone blending features

Unfortunately, Bass Amp Room doesn’t include any stompbox effects or features such as tuner, additional bass amps or a standalone version but does include a free 20-day demo version to test it out.

A good way to utilize this programme is to use it in your DAW to create an authentic raw sounding bass tone.

Then enable desired plug-ins to build on the tone in the form of effects adding ‘icing on the cake’ sounds and effects that are unavailable in the software.

Pros

  • Authentic sounding bass tones
  • Versatile tones for most genres (rock, metal, funk, jazz, etc)
  • Enough tone shaping customization
  • Solid sounding bass tones for recording in a DAW
  • Dial a tone in quick without overcomplicating anything

Cons

  • A tad on the pricey side for one bass head
  • No standalone version
  • No stompboxes or effects
  • No additional amps or cabs to expand in sounds

#5 – GTR-3

  • Price: $49
  • Bass amps: 7
  • Standalone: Yes
  • Plug-in: Yes
  • 64-bit only
  • PC/Mac
  • Free Demo: No

GTR-3 by Waves for the price, includes a great number of bass amps and stompboxes rolled into a simple and compact interface for easy tone customization. This software is well equipped for bass players with the inclusion of 7 bass amps.

The GTR-3 replicates bass tones with impressive accuracy adding a level of realism to any bass signal with any DAW and audio interface.

The pedalboard allows 6 designated spaces for stomp boxes with a selection of 26 effects which can be modified to add a surprising level of tone sculpting. It also runs a standalone version for running on the desktop without having to load it up as a plugin in a DAW.

I must admit, GTR-3 is not as heavily loaded with features as the other amp sims, excluding some features such as microphone customization, room ambiance, built in recording etc.

However, for the price, you do get a lot of great sounding amps and effects which in the grand scheme is great value for money.

Best for

This programme may not be for the tone twiddling freaks out there like other amp sims. However, this programme does not make too much of a deal and is designed and marketed to be simple and straight to the point.

GTR-3 is a good option for any bass players who are maybe new to the amp sim world. Possibly looking for an easy to use guitar modeling software who are not looking to spend a fortune first time around.

Pros

  • Simple easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Authentic sounding amps and effects
  • Standalone version

Cons

  • No demo to try

#6 – GK Amplification 2 Pro

  • Price: $79
  • Bass Amps: 3
  • Free Demo: Yes
  • Standalone: Yes
  • Win/Mac
  • Plugin: Yes

Free Demo Here!

GK stands for Gaillain and Kruker. For all of you who are unaware, GK is a high-end bass amp and cabinet manufacturer based in the US.

GK Amplification 2 Pro is an affordable and versatile bass amp sim offering 3 popular emulated versions from their line of bass heads for adding to your mixes or jamming on the side. The heads available are the popular CK bass head models.

  • GK MB150
  • GK 800RB
  • GK 2001 RB

This sim also offers a large selection of cabinets to match with your ideal bass head. A good feature is combining 2 speaker cabs for a mash and blend of cabinet sounds allowing a good level of tonal customization.

The main tonal options you can customize with this amp sim are…

  • Bass Head EQ
  • Boost option
  • Voicing filters
  • Microphone positioning
  • Microphone type selection
  • Microphone angle
  • Cabinet tone blending

GK Amplification Pro 2 programme includes a metronome and track recorder which is useful for recording moments of inspiration and creative ideas in the standalone version. This programme is available for use as a plug-in within a DAW.

Overall this programme is an affordable, easy to use and great sounding amp sim for dialing in solid bass tones for recording or jamming. There are no effects in the form of stompboxes which can leave users feeling a little empty handed for experimenting with sounds.

I would say this software is more geared towards recording in a DAW for adding addition plug-ins for effects, therefore, adding more tone shaping capabilities.

Pros

  • Gallain-Kruker bass tones
  • Simple interface
  • Recording track
  • Metronome
  • Affordable
  • Good amount of tonal shaping
  • Standalone version

Cons

  • Only 3 bass amps
  • No stompboxes

#7 – Ignite Amps SB-1

  • Price: Free
  • Presets: 1 Amp
  • Standalone version: No
  • Win/Mac
  • Cabinet plugin Required: Yes
  • Plugin: Yes

Download Here

The SHB-1 is a virtual simulation of the actual real-life SHB-1 amp head created by Ignite amps for the bassist Frederico Fulceri of metal band ‘Subhuman.’

Every component in the real amp including the circuitry and tube technology was considered to create the most accurate and well represented simulated version of the SHB-1 bass head as functional plugin.

It’s no surprise then the SHB-1 plugin is a modeled aggressive sounding bass tube head, transforming a dry bass signal to a distorted, aggressive and mid focused metal sound without changing the core dynamics of the bass tone.

For me, this is where the plugin sounded at it’s best as it is voiced to sound aggressive and metal. What I liked about this plugin was the simple interface with a good amount of EQ and tone shaping controls for a free plugin.

I must say the amp head is surprisingly versatile, I have used this preset (before going to paid simulators) on many projects and was able to shape a number of bass tones across a range of genres.

I must admit, the SHB-1 plugin sounded at its best for sculpting an aggressive and distorted tube amp tone for my metal tracks.

When it comes to function, this plugin serves as a recording tool inside your DAW than a ‘standalone programme’ for real-time practicing and jamming. This programme also requires a matched cabinet simulator when you load up the plugin inside your DAW.

Overall, the SHB-1 serves as a great free simulator for creating a versatile palate of bass sounds for recording and achieving a range of worthy studio bass tones within your recording software.

Pros

  • Free
  • Simple interface
  • Great sounding bass tube head plugin
  • Supports 32 and 64-bit systems
  • Great amp sim for recording

Cons

  • Matching cabinet plugin required
  • No standalone

Top Tip

When recording bass inside your DAW, activate up to 3 separate tracks, each track with a different amp sim enabled. This will blend a range of sounds to achieve a unique tone allowing the bass frequencies to stand out ever so more in a full instrument mix.

You could also assign each individual amp sim to focus on the frequencies ranges of the tone. For example, one on the high, one on the mids and one focusing on the lows.

It’s always a good idea to utilize a few amps sims instead of relying on one to provide 100% of the tonality and do all the work.

Final Word

Before buying a paid amp sim, I always recommend first downloading the free demo version of the programme. So you can trial which one sounds best to your ears and meets your requirements in a bass amp sim.

This post has brought you a selection of the best bass amp simulators for all of your recording and tone tweaking needs, thanks for reading!

Before you go, there are other ways to amplify a bass guitar for practicing without amp simulators…

I recommended you read my post “Plugging a Bass into a Guitar Amp.” This will explain how to get a workable bass tone for practicing without needing to invest in a bedroom bass amp.

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