Best Free Guitar VST Plugins and Sample Libraries

If you’ve been producing music for a while, you probably know that a lot of the commercial guitar VSTs or libraries out there are pretty expensive and not always easy to use. Although I own a few commercial guitar libraries, I also wanted to see what free guitar VSTs and sample libraries are available these days. I have to admit I was surprised by the number of interesting instruments I found. So, I’ve put together this list to talk about the best ones.

For this article, I looked at both acoustic and electric guitars but left out guitar amps and other effect plugins (I will cover these in an upcoming article).

Free Acoustic Guitar Plugins

Ample Sound: Ample Guitar M II Lite

Format: AU, VST, AAX, RTAS / 32 bit + 62 bit
OS: Mac, Windows

Audio examples:

Ample Sound is a Beijing-based company that has been creating guitar and bass VSTs since 2011. The Ample Guitar M II series aims “to bring the Martin D-41 Acoustic Guitar sound to your studio.” Luckily for us, the company also released a free lite version of the instrument, which comes with a reduced sample rate, fewer articulations and features and a lower sample count than the original (by now, version III has been released already).

This doesn’t prevent Ample Guitar M II Lite from being the best sounding (non-Kontakt) acoustic guitar in this list, though. The samples sound full and lively and can be triggered directly through MIDI (or your DAW) as well as through a built-in sequencer, the “strummer.”

The strummer makes it super easy to build patterns out of single notes, up and down strokes and mutes. Additionally, there are a bunch of effects and features available to change the tone. One of my favorite features is the doubling switch, which adds width to the instrument in an instant.

Another particular useful feature of Ample Guitar M II Lite is that it shows you which string corresponds to the note you’re playing. This quickly helped me create more realistic arpeggios.

If you also use Guitar Pro Tab, you can even import your tabs into Ample Guitar M II Lite. Note that you are limited to the first four frets of each string when you’re using the lite version.

There are so many fully functioning knobs and switches in this free plugin that I didn’t manage to get to all of them in my 45 minutes of playing around with it. What more can you ask for in a free guitar?

You can get Ample Guitar M II Lite on the Ample Sound website.

This is a quick introduction to the instrument:

DSK Music: Dynamic Guitars

Format:  AU, VST / 32 bit + 64 bit
OS: Mac, Windows

Audio examples:

This guitar VST has gotten a lot of attention lately, especially since the release of LifeStyleDidIt’s video “I FOUND THE BEST FREE GUITAR VST” (see below). DSK Music is a project by a Spaniard named Víctor who has been making hundreds of free virtual instruments since 2002.

Dynamic Guitars contains three different instruments: an acoustic guitar, a nylon guitar and a steel guitar. It also offers control over the envelope of the samples as well as the dynamic range and the voice mode (poly, mono, legato).  All the included guitars feel smooth, warm and thick but could use a little EQ action for clarity.

In this video, you can see the plugin in use:

You can download DSK Dynamic Guitars here.

Pettinhouse Free Acoustic Guitars

Pettinhouse is a project by Andrea Pettinao. The company sells a wide variety of guitars and also offers a handful of free guitar sample libraries. Let’s take a look at them!

Free AcousticGuitar

Format: Kontakt 3 and higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

Free AcousticGuitar is a simple but well-recorded and programmed acoustic guitar Kontakt library. The samples are loaded as a multi and are separated into attack+ sustain, releases and fret noise sounds and come in different velocities. The samples are well mixed and sound wonderfully natural.

Download Free AcousticGuitar here.

Free ClassicGuitar

Format: Kontakt 5 and higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

When you open the free version of Pettinhouse’s Classic Guitar, you’re getting a multi consisting of two instruments: classic guitar and noises. These work well together and offer a realistic and nice warm sound.

Download Free ClassicGuitar.

Yummy Beats: Modest Guitar

Format: Kontakt 5 and higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

Yummy Beats is a platform for drums, loops and Kontakt instruments. You can also find a few free instruments on this site, including the free Modest Guitar. This Kontakt library delivers a present sound with round robin and three articulations: acoustic guitar, flageolets and fx guitar. Unfortunately, I found that the fx guitar produced noticeable crackle sounds (might have been my setup!). However, my favorite part is the flageolets with their well-rounded tone, anyway.

I found the steps to get Modest Guitar a little complicated. You have to open a Yummy Beats account, go to this page and enter the unlock code that you find here. If you’re looking for a free, quality flageolet sound, this is a good instrument to try out, though.

Here’s an example of a song that uses Modest Guitar (from the Yummy Beats YouTube channel):

Alternatives

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Here are some more acoustic guitar libraries:

Free Electric Guitar Plugins

Now, let’s talk about electric guitars.

Spitfire Labs: Peel Guitar

Format: VST2, VST3, AAX, AU; 32 bit + 64 bi t
OS: Windows, Mac

Audio examples:

Looking for a smooth moody guitar that fits into an ambient track or your next film score? Peel Guitar might be it! Originally, the guitar was sampled by Christian Henson in 2006 and, according to him, was used all over his scores. The instrument consists of three presets that differ slightly in guitar tone. Each guitar feels soft and comes with a long release, which adds to the atmosphere of the instrument. The minimalist interface offers control over the volume, velocity, reverb and “tightness” of the sound. To get Peel Guitar, you will need to install Spitfire Labs first (also free).

You can get both Labs and Peel Guitar here.

Iridium Iris: Lethality

Format: VST, 32 bit + 64 bit
OS: Windows

Audio examples:

The following examples were created with Lethality and Guitar Rig 5:

Lethality was released in 2014 by Iridium Iris. The developer’s website has been down for a while, so it’s not clear if they’re still working on new instruments. However, Lethality is one of their products that you can still come across today.

I was actually quite surprised to see how many functions are built into Lethality. Besides “regular” single notes, the plugin also has open string and muted string articulations. Additionally, you can switch on hammer-ons, pull-offs and portamento articulations, which can be triggered by playing legato notes.

To find the right articulation on your MIDI keyboard, you can take a look in the manual that comes with the instrument. When you’re as used to Kontakt as I am, it’s a little inconvenient that the keyboard layout (including articulation zones and keyswitches) is not displayed visually in the plugin. This means that you’ll have to remember the keyswitches and articulations you’ll need when playing.

If you’re not sure how to program your guitar, you can use the built-in riff patterns. They can be activated directly from the plugin or exported as MIDI clips into your DAW of choice. Truthfully, though, it makes more sense to program your own MIDI clips, if only to create a more dynamic guitar part.

Although Lethality offers a distortion function, to get a good sound you will most likely want to use an external amp simulation or other effects on this instrument.

As the official developer website is down, you can get Lethality here.

Impact Soundworks Shreddage Stratus Free

Format: Kontakt 5.7 or higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

The Shreddage series by Impact Soundworks has been the go-to place for affordable guitar sample libraries for years. Recently, the company made a very generous gift to composers when it released a free version of its Shreddage 3 Stratus guitar. Compared to the commercial version, the free version only offers neck pickup (instead of neck, middle and bridge), 12 frets (instead of 24), a reduced range and fewer articulations. However, this shouldn’t stop you from creating great, realistic electric guitar parts with this library. Up to 24 samples per note, including sustain, palm mute and choke articulations make this an amazingly usable library that will fit into many productions.

Amazingly, the free version of Shreddage 3 Stratus also comes with full mix console functionality. In the mix console you can add effects, whether that’s pedals, amps, cabinets or EQ. The included presets (called “snapshots” by Impact Soundworks) sound instantly great and are compatible with other Shreddage instruments (as long as they use the same console). This is definitely the best and most versatile free electric guitar on the market right now – so if you have a full version of Kontakt, don’t miss out on this one.

Check out the following video for an overview on how to use Stratus Free:

Get Impact Soundworks Stratus Free here (you will need to get a free account to download the instrument).

Pettinhouse Free Electric Guitars

Just as Pettinhouse offers a few great acoustic guitar libraries, it has also released a few interesting electric guitars:

Free DirectGuitar

Format: Kontakt 5 and higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

The following examples were created with DirectGuitar and Guitar Rig 5:

Using this direct guitar library by Pettinhouse gives you maximum flexibility for sculpting your own tone. It comes with a range of four octaves and also includes a few effects (open the “strum” and “layers” instruments to find out where they are located on the keyboard). Amp and effects are not part of the instrument, so you will need to add one yourself. I used Guitar Rig 5 for the audio examples.  

Get Free DirectGuitar here.

Free Mute&Slap

Format: Kontakt 3 and higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

Mute&Slap is a very specialized instrument: The articulations range from mute tones in the lower velocities to slap notes in the higher velocities and are great for adding some funky notes to your beats and songs. While Free Mute&Slap also contains a couple of effects and amp choices, it might be worthwhile trying out a few different amp simulations with this to have more control over the tone.

You can download Mute&Slap here.

Here’s a video review for Mute&Slap:

Free FunkyGuitar

Format: Kontakt 3 and higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

Need more funk in your music? Check out Pettinhouse’s Free FunkyGuitar. Besides regular plucked string sounds, this library also contains strum loops and muted strum loops. These are especially convenient (programming funk guitar rhythms manually is hell) and can be tempo-synced to the host or adjusted manually (in a range of 85 bpm – 130 bpm). The library comes with a built-in reverb, delay and phaser and a selection of amps. The guide tab will help you find your way around this instrument quickly.

The free version of FunkyGuitar is available here.

Free WarmJazz

Format: Kontakt 3 and higher (full version required!)

Audio examples:

When I was researching for this article and came across WarmJazz, a realization hit me: There are barely any jazz guitar sample libraries on the market. Apart from the occasional funk library, most current guitar libraries and VSTs are oriented towards rock, metal and blues. If you’re looking for a jazzier sound, though, you should check out WarmJazz by Pettinhouse. In its free version, it comes with seven presets and a range of effects (chorus, reverb, delay, compressor). The quality of the sound is indeed warm and jazzy and hard to re-create with any other library.

Get Free WarmJazz here.

Karoryfer Samples Cute Emily Guitar

Format: SFZ, Kontakt 5 and higher (full version required!)

The next three examples use Guitar Rig 5:

Cute Emily Guitar is originally a project by Karoryfer Samples and was first published in 2014. To quote the creator:

“There are a lot of guitar samples out there intended for lots of styles of music guitarists like, from Latin jazz to metalcore, but this library is for music guitarists really hate, from hip-hop to EDM. It’s designed to be easy to use for producers who don’t necessarily know a lot about guitars and don’t need a whole lot of different articulations, control over left-hand position, note off groups, etc. Instead of all that you get a fat, percussive sound that’s great for crisp rhythms.”

Indeed, the instrument, which is a sampled Epiphone Emily the Strange, has a very pronounced, percussive attack. As the samples were recorded directly, it makes sense to run them through an amp simulator of some sort (I used Guitar Rig 5 for my tests).

You have the choice between two versions of this instrument: The original Karoryfer Samples version in SFZ soundfont format or a Kontakt version by Bigcat Instruments. The Kontakt version includes various effects, such as a phaser, chorus, reverb, delay, compressor, distortion and EQ. You can also add tremolo and adjust the velocity curve, as well as the attack and release.

Alternatives

Looking for more options? Check out the following instruments:

Over to you…

Do you have any other favorites that you didn’t see included on this page? Let us know in the comments!

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