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What freeware guitar amp sim VSTs can you recommend? Please link to just one effect per answer so we can vote for favourites.

Useful information for each plugin includes:

  • link to download
  • features
  • screenshot
  • platforms supported (e.g. Windows / Mac, VST, RTAS, AudioUnit)
  • CPU usage (can you live monitor
  • any registration/authorization hoops you have to jump through to use it
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4 Answers 4

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 4 Player is a free version of their commercial Guitar Rig 4 effects package. It contains just one amp sim "Jump" (looks like it is based on a Marshall) and one cabinet, plus a fairly generous selection of additional effects. You have to get an authorisation code to download and install it, and obviously they want to persuade you to upgrade to the full version, but what you get for free is still very useful. The user interface is very well designed, making it easy to find patches, or to design your own. It also includes a tuner and a standalone host app for live playing or practice that includes a "tape deck" for you to play along with backing tracks.

Guitar Rig 4 Player

  • True stereo effects processor powered by the supreme sound Engine of GUITAR RIG 4
  • 22 fully functional components including the Jump Amp / Cabinet and 12 electrifying effects
  • Seamlessly expandable with new Komplete Effects by NI
  • Complex multi-effects and parallel processing with unrivaled usability through the simple Rack concept
  • Easy integrated parameter automation through Modifiers as well as perfect host integration
  • Powerful preset browser with extensive search functions
  • 30 brand new, high-quality presets for all genres and source materials
  • Direct MIDI Learn for all sliders and knobs offers convenient controller integration
  • Integrated tuner, metronome and two Tapedeck modules for easy recording
  • Dedicated "Live View" for performing on stage
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Studio Devil British Valve Custom is an emulation of a Marshall amp with 4x12 cabinet emulation. It has a no frills user interface, with just the basic tone and gain controls making it very straightforward to use. You have to create an account on their website to download it. As with a number of other free guitar VSTs, StudioDevil also make a more fully featured non-freeware amp. Despite the limited configuration options, this guitar effect is still quite versatile and usable for a variety of styles from rock to blues & jazz. It comes with a standalone host app for live playing or practice.

Studio Devil British Valve Custom GUI

Feature list:

  • British High-Gain Amp emulation based on Marshall® stack!
  • Power Amp Drive Control to adjust natural power amp compression.
  • Built In 4x12 Cabinet Emulation!
  • Realistic Tone Controls: Bass, Mids, Treble, and Presence
  • Professional Sampling Rates: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, and 192kHz support!
  • 4X Up-Sampling Engine with 64-bit Floating-Point Internal Precision
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac VST, Audio Units and ProTools RTAS hosts!
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Fretted Synth FreeAmp 3 is the latest evolution of one what was probably the first comprehensive guitar amp and effects VST to be made available as freeware. It contains a remarkable array of features and although it has not been updated for some time, remains a useful tool. The sound is not quite as polished as some of the newer commercial products, but if you are prepared to spend a bit of time tweaking the amp and cabinet settings, you can get some great sounds out of this amp. If you don't need the effects, you can download a smaller version that just has the amp and cabinet sims.

Fretted Synth FreeAmp 3 GUI

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Voxengo Boogex is interesting mainly because of its extreme flexibility. It consists of three parts. The first - a "pre-filter" allows for dramatic shaping of the EQ of the incoming signal. The next stage is the amplifier itself, which I think is the weakest part of this effect. The third stage is the cabinet emulation, which allows you to select from some supplied cabinet impulse responses, or, more interestingly, supply your own (there are lots of great free ones available on the web). If you have some patience and are willing to experiment, you can get some very nice sounds out of this effect.

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