7 Best Electric Guitar VST Plugins Money Can Buy

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  • Looking for some new toys to spice up your guitar tone?
  • Struggling to decide between the hundreds of options out there?
  • We narrow down our 7 top electric guitar VST plugins of this year
  • Also, check out our post on the best acoustic VSTs that money can buy!

Whether you’re still learning the guitar part to “Master Of Puppets” and need to fake it a little, or you just want to try something different on your next song, there are many plugin options out there that can emulate or enhance electric guitars.

You don’t even need to know how to play guitar to use an electric guitar VST plugin. And you can even use one with a MIDI keyboard and your digital audio workstation. 

What Are The Best Electric Guitar VST Plugins?

Our best overall pick goes to the Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Pro. This multi-effects rack and guitar amp simulator are loaded with sounds and tones, from bass to electric guitar to special effects and samples.

If you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Player, a free electric guitar VST based on Guitar Rig 6 Pro.

If you can spend more, 1K Multimedia Amplitube 5 Max has everything you need, with over 400 gear models.

Here are our picks for the 7 best electric guitar VST plugins:

  1. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Pro (Best Pick) 
  2. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Player (Best Value)
  3. IK Multimedia Amplitube 5 Max (Best Premium)
  4. MusicLab RealEight Electric Guitar Software Instrument 
  5. PositiveGrid BIAS Amp 2
  6. Line 6 Helix Native
  7. Impact Soundworks Shreddage 3 Stratus

While you’re here, you should also check out our shootout between Guitar Rig vs Amplitube vs Bias FX.

1. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Pro (Our Pick) 

Guitar Rig 6 Pro
Why We Love It:
  • Versatile, multi-instrumental flexibility
  • Features Intelligent Circuit Modelling
  • Intuitive and built around creative freedom
Check Price On Native Instruments

Guitar Rig 6 Pro is the latest and most extensive product in the Native Instruments Guitar Rig VST series.

It has several new amp and cabinet models not featured in Guitar Rig 6 LE or Guitar Rig 6 Player, as well as numerous effects, including various types of distortion, delay, EQ, reverb, and even special effects such as a ring modulator, a series of Traktor plugins including a beat slicer, and grain delay.

If you’ve tried the slightly slimmed-down versions of Guitar Rig 6 and want something more, especially if you want more effects and more options for bass guitar, this is the way to go.

Key Features:

  • 21 classic guitar and bass amplifiers, heads, and cabinets
  • Control Room emulates various microphone types and placements
  • 68 effects and tools, including stompboxes and rack modules
  • Can be used offline once it’s activated


Native Instruments gives you plenty of bang for your buck with the latest version of Guitar Rig 6 Pro.

The user interface has been updated so that it’s scalable and easier on the eyes, so you can focus on getting the sounds you want.

Not only can you use its effects and amp models for electric guitar, but it works well with other instruments too, from bass to synths and more. 

Native Instruments uses machine learning and Intelligent Circuit modeling to recreate guitar sounds authentically.

This particular release has some notable new Amps, including the 50’s retro throwback Chicago amp, which will give you that rich tube saturation you’ve been looking for.

There’s also the Bass Invader, an in-your-face solid-state bass amp with a 4-band active EQ and distortion you can tweak to your liking.

If you’ve tried out their other Guitar Rig plugins and are looking for the next level, Guitar Rig 6 Pro makes a very convincing virtual guitar and then some.

2. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Player (Best Value)

Best Value
Guitar Rig 6 Player

Guitar Rig 6 Player is based on the powerful Guitar Rig 6 Pro, providing you with a straightforward and easy user interface with professional components. The newly developed preset browser makes it even easier to find and organize your effect settings.

Why We Love It:
  • Flexible multi-effects unit
  • Free amp, effects, and tools
  • Includes Studio Tools for sequencing
Free On Native Instruments

Everyone loves free software, especially when it highlights many features in more advanced and pricier versions.

Rather than skimming the surface or being essentially a glorified demo version, Guitar Rig 6 Player gives you a fully functional package of guitar virtual instruments from Guitar Rig 6 Pro. 

Key Features:

  • 13 effects and 50 amp presets
  • Includes Studio Tools for synthesis and sequencing
  • Amp models have additional dynamics and processing control, such as EQ, reverb, distortion, and modulation 


Especially if you’re new to the world of guitar virtual instruments, Guitar Rig 6 Player by Native Instruments is a solid choice.

We consider this the best free electric guitar VST out there. It’s a scaled-down version of Guitar Rig 6 Pro, with a selection of convincing digital effects.

It includes Guitar Rig’s Matched Cabinet Amp Cab and Jump Guitar Amp, and many of the same effects as Guitar Rig 6 Pro, including a modifier for synthesis, a Crossover Mix mode so you can use effects in parallel, and effects sidechaining.

3. IK Multimedia Amplitube 5 (Best Premium)

AmpliTube 5
Why We Love It:
  • Super realistic and lifelike amp simulation
  • 400 different amp sims, cabs, and effects
  • Ultimate tonal customization
Check Price On IK Multimedia

For the price, Amplitube 5 by IK Multimedia is a unique tool. It can be used as a standalone application or a plugin and has a live Performance mode with MIDI switching capabilities.

It uses Dynamic Response Modeling across the entire signal chain for the most realistic guitar virtual instruments. Best of all, you can get a free trial before you buy it.

Key Features:

  • Standalone application and a plugin for your DAW
  • Searchable preset database with tags
  • 31 speaker models with more available in the Custom Shop, up to 57 simultaneous effects, and ToneNet for preset sharing


The latest version of Amplitube plays nicely with previous versions, so if this is an upgrade for you, all your presets and gear will be saved from previous purchases.

Its versatility makes up for the somewhat hefty price tag. That said, if you’re a freelance engineer or run a small studio, Amplitube 5 is well worth the investment.

It has a built-in 8-track recorder DAW when used as a standalone plugin, so if you need a live recording rig, this is one way to do it. 

The cabinet simulators use the Volumetric Impulse Response engine to give true-to-life virtual guitar tones and sounds.

You can mic it however you want, from the cabinet itself — to a pair of ambient mics.

The onboard effects include T-RackS plugins and a stereo signal path to use the effects on drums, keyboards, and more.

4. MusicLab RealEight Electric Guitar Software Instrument 

RealEight Electric Guitar Software Instrument 

The RealEight virtual guitar instrument is the ideal guitar for creating a lead, rhythm riff, and even bass tracks in your future rock and metal masterpieces.

Why We Love It:
  • Key, pedal, velocity switch system
  • Built-in song sequencer
  • Rhythm library consisting of 1,250 patterns
Check Price On MusicLab

This virtual guitar plugin from MusicLab is a part of their electric guitar VST plugin suite and is geared mostly towards rock and metal artists.

Based on actual 8-string electric guitar samples, the software allows you to play direct from your MIDI keyboard or write songs using the built-in sequencer.

Key Features:

  • Has a rhythm library of 1,250 patterns
  • Performance Modes include Solo, Harmony, Bass & Chord, Bass & Pick, and Chords
  • Has a built-in chord editor


If you want your songs to have layers of thick, brutal guitars, this plugin will help you out considerably.

No doubt, if Ministry had gotten ahold of MusicLab RealEight during the recording of The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, they would’ve loved it and used it liberally.

The samples are massive and realistic, and the effects and articulations sound like a guitarist is in the room with you.

From fret noise and harmonics to hammer-ons and pick slides, they all sound pretty immense.

You can either play the samples on a MIDI keyboard or via any guitar with a MIDI interface.  It also works as a standalone unit.

Up to 30 effects can be assigned via MIDI, and it’s smart enough to auto-detect whichever chords you play, so you can easily integrate it into your current guitar rig.

5. Positive Grid BIAS Amp 2

BIAS Amp 2

BIAS AMP 2 gives you the power to create new sounds by designing your own dream amplifier, letting you swap out tubes, customize preamps, power amps, transformers, tone stacks, multi-mic capability, and open/closed back cabinet, all via a powerful and intuitive photo-realistic interface.

Why We Love It:
  • Hyper-authentic touch response
  • Download and share custom tones
  • Design your own Amps
Check Price On Positive Grid

The BIAS Amp 2 plugin from Positive Grid has seemingly endless customization options.

You can even swap the tubes, change the mic array, and then share your presets on ToneCloud, where you can download custom virtual Amps.

There’s also an Amp Match feature if you know the sound you want but can’t quite figure it out.

Key Features:

  • Amp Match and Track Match can help you find your tone from any guitar sound or uploaded audio file
  • The Amp Designer lets you design your own Amps
  • When you load the Celestion cabinet settings, easily toggle between sizes and mic placements


There are a few versions of this electric guitar VST: Standard, Professional, and Elite.

The Standard version doesn’t have quite as many preamp and amp models but is still loaded with useful features.

The user interface is intuitive and looks just like the real thing. You can customize every part of the amp’s signal flow, from the preamp to the power supply and transformer.

If you’re not sure where to start with your sound, upload any audio file, and BIAS Amp 2 will match the tone of the guitar.

When you load up a Celestion cabinet, instead of having to load a new IR every time you want to change the sound, just move the mics, and BIAS Amp 2 will do the rest of the work.

If you want even more sounds and tones, you can get various expansion packs, from Glassy to Insane.

6. Line 6 Helix Native

Line 6 Helix Native

The Helix Native plug-in provides a limitless creative palette for inspiring tone creation, with 60+ amplifiers, 30+ speaker cabinets, and a wide range of 100+ effects. The interface provides a fast and intuitive tone editing workflow, so you can instantly access your entire signal chain and quickly tweak your settings.

Why We Love It:
  • Helix multi-effects floorboard system
  • 12 capacitive-sensing footswitches
  • Extensive I/O for seamless integration
Check Price On Line 6

This electric guitar VST from Line 6 is geared towards people who own Line 6 Helix or Pod Farm hardware, but you can also buy it as a new software purchase.

Key Features:

  • Over 300 models, inc. Mics, Cabinets, Amps, and Effects
  • Supports third-party IR (Impulse Response) settings
  • Use for vocal processing and other instruments 


In a world where people seem to be moving away from hardware gear, it’s smart and very generous of Line 6 to say, “why not both?” and seamlessly integrate their Helix hardware series into the Helix Native VST.

You can easily transfer any sound you create straight to your Helix or Pod Farm hardware module.

In addition to over 300 models of Amp, Mic, Cabinet, and more, it’s also compatible with existing Helix hardware presets.

7. Impact Soundworks Shreddage 3 Stratus

Shreddage 3 Stratus

The Shreddage 3 Stratus is the next generation of virtual guitar instruments -- it's more realistic and versatile than ever before, featuring an American classic sound, three pickups, tons of articulations, and the new console mixer and modular FX rack!

Why We Love It:
  • Over 25,000 pristine 24-bit samples
  • Console FX rack and mixer
  • 40 production-ready tone snapshots
Free On Impact Soundworks

The sample-based Shreddage 3 series by Impact Soundworks does indeed shred, for the most part.

It also has bass sounds, archtop guitar sounds, and this one, the Stratus, which is a perfect all-around Fender Strat emulator for various genres from funk to jazz to hard rock.

Key Features:

  • Over 25,000 24-bit samples, all recorded through separate pickup positions
  • Over 30 effects, including compressors, reverbs, pedals, and more
  • The virtual guitarist engine accurately simulates hand position, strumming, and string muting


Once you get the free Kontakt player to load up Shreddage 3 Stratus, you’ll be ready to rock in no time.

This sample-based electric guitar VST gives you that classic rock tone and much more.

Literally, every single string was sampled for these sounds, and the quality speaks for itself.

If you want to work quickly, you can load up one of the 40 different tone snapshots and instantly dial in electric guitar sounds.

Whether you need punk rock-style power chords or heavy metal palm mutes or just want to play the blues, there’s a vast array of styles and articulations built into Shreddage 3 Stratus, as well as the ability to create your own.


How Do I Make My Electric Guitar VST Sound Realistic?

When you play or listen to a real electric guitar, often you’ll hear noises other than the notes; everything from feedback to fretboard squeaks.

With these electric guitar VSTs, you can include some noises for a more realistic-sounding performance.

Another trick is subtly varying the velocity, or how hard the key is struck so that not all notes are played at the same volume.

You can also add a little “room tone” or reverb to it so it doesn’t sound so flat and sounds like it was recorded from an amp.

Do A Lot Of Bands And Artists Use Electric Guitar VSTs And Samples?

While the use of sampled electric guitars goes back to 90s industrial rock, many bands and artists are continuing to embrace samples and VSTs in their work, whether to fill out and thicken up existing guitar parts or add something totally new. 

Can I Use A MIDI Guitar With An Electric Guitar VST Plugin?

For the most part, any electric guitar VST plugin that supports MIDI should also be able to support a MIDI guitar or a guitar connected to a MIDI interface.

You might have to dive into the settings a bit to make sure the mapping of the keys correlates with the fretboard, and as always, it will depend slightly on the plugin you choose and what type of MIDI guitar you have.

What’s The Difference Between A Guitar VST, A Guitar Synth, And An Amp Simulator?

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology and uses digital signal processing to bring audio software to your digital audio workstation.

A guitar synth is a little different. Back in the analog days, guitar synths used the output of a guitar string as its sound source.

Nowadays, you’re more likely to see a synth triggered by MIDI notes played by a guitar, meaning you’ll need a device to convert the notes and chords of the guitar to MIDI information. 

Lastly, an Amp simulator is just what it sounds like; software built to sound like a guitar amp.

While guitar VSTs often include settings like articulation to better mimic actual guitar playing, amp simulators are more for scenarios where you don’t have a guitar amp. Still, they want it to sound like you’re playing through one. 

Having said this, sometimes all three of these technologies can coexist within one piece of software, which is handy if you want to accurately capture the entire guitar playing experience.

Before you go, check out our guide to the 6 Best Free Piano VSTs That Sound Incredible!