For this tutorial, I will show you some of the best acoustic, electric, and bass guitar VST plug-ins for your productions in Ableton. This list comes from my collection of guitar VSTs, as well as recommendations from my peers.
Why do you need Guitar plug-ins?
Next to pianos, drums, and synths, guitars are valid in nearly every genre of music for melodic and harmonic lines. Depending on the guitar, you will get different tones and timbre, and from here, you can affect your guitar with the VST’s inbuilt effects or an effects plug-in to fit your production and utility.
Most of your Plug-ins in Ableton will come in the VST 2.0 or VST 3.0 format. For a breakdown of these 2 formats, have a look at this tutorial on the difference between VST2 vs VST3 in Ableton.
This section will be centred around the best guitars and some of their variants.
This is the first free VST on this list. It is manufactured by ZAK sounds, and it is not your traditional guitar VST. This means that it is more of a sound design tool, designed to evoke ‘delicate’ emotions and feelings, with some preset sounding very much like their live counterparts. It is a compilation of 18 different instruments that include; acoustic, semi-acoustic, full-electric, folk, and classical guitars.
The sounds are recorded off different playing techniques such as when you palm-muted, play open strings, natural fretboard notes, harmonics, and short notes. Sapphire Guitars is only available in VST 3.0 format, for both Windows and MacBook, as well as the AU format for MacBook. You can get this VST for free here.
Ample Guitar Stratocaster
When it comes to electric guitars, the Ample Guitar Stratocaster is the jack of all trades. Ample Sounds generally make remarkable emulations of vintage guitars. For only $149 here, the Ample Stratocaster is based on the 1961 Fender Stratocaster, only that this emulation does not come with the low-mid range hum that comes with a classic Stratocaster.
This VST is geared multifaceted for multi-genre production, from blues to melodic house. You will find utility in this guitar VST for any melodic and harmonic licks, and lines because in the Riffer mode, you will get the ‘String Roll Editor mode’, where you will get clear fingering, articulation, expression, and the ‘Dice mode’, which is essentially a random riff generator, you will be able to get inspiration in production because it is not simply a random algorithm. In the strummer mode, you will get14 Strum notes, and 28 ways to play for every chord, Strum Legato – legato articulations can be played while strumming., 4 humanization settings where you can select and detect 2 chord modes, and any chords could be customized, and a strum SEQ with customized rhythm with delicate presets with MIDI export.
For this next segment, I shall review bass guitars. The bass is what holds down and glues your rhythmic and harmonic section. This is the bridge between the kick drum, harmonic and melodic passages. It is therefore crucial to lock this section with the best bass guitar VSTs in the market. The first:
MODO Bass 2
This is my go-to bass guitar VST for nearly every single genre I make. From afro-folk to deep house! IK Multimedia have emulated 22 bass guitars ranging from 6 new eclectic vintage 60s, and 70s passive bass, 70s jazz basses, and Punk bass models, including 2 legendary fretless basses plus 2 double-bass instruments.
You can choose if your guitar has 4 or 6 strings, is fretless or fretted, is passive or active, plucked, muted slapped, or fingered to suit the tone you are going for, there are 32 pickup models each with special characteristics in the electronics view, and which amplifier your signal will go through, either solid-state for the clean and precise tone, or the tube amp for the warm, full and round amp. In this last mode, you will be able to control your bass equalization for general mixing.
I highly recommend that you get the full bundle for$349.99 here for the complete IK Multimedia experience.
Ample Bass Jaco Fretless
This is another guitar emulation by Ample Sounds. If you know anything about legendary bassist, you know Jaco Pastorius as well as the silky smooth and fluid transitions of a fretless bass which you can only achieve with a fretless bass. Bring a piece of history to your productions! This VST is seamlessly compatible with Ableton as it is compatible with VST2, VST3, and as a Standalone host. You will get a rich tone, harmonics, and a natural fingering noise for that raw live bassist sound.
You will also get built-in three AMP classic AMP models: Vintage-15, Bass-500, Bass-Pro, 1×15, 2×10, 4×10, and 8×10 cabinets and each cabinet contains 4 mic options: U87, C414, MD421, SM57, and a room Mic. In terms of effects, you will get an 8-band EQ, a 2-Line Compressor, a 6-Tap Echo, and IR Reverb, providing four types of IR reverbs, and a tab player which can load and play several prevalent guitar bass tablature file formats. You can also change the play styles from the slap, fingered, muted, and plucked modes. You will have presets available to you varying between harmonics, tones, effects, amplifier specifications, and playstyles.
The EZBass by Toontrack is simply one of the best music production tools for songwriters and composers. If you look at the best free sample pack tutorial here, you will see that there are essentially 2 types of sample packs for Ableton, MIDI, and audio. This plug-in comes with both for easy edition and an arrangement mode.
This VST comes with an interactive GUI, two carefully sampled bass guitars, one vintage and one modern, Audio to MIDI conversion, a grid editor to alter the performance or the subtler details of the MIDI using the built-in, and an adaptable MID algorithm to automatically create matching basslines. Simply groundbreaking for only 165 Euros here.
1. Dry Relic Kontakt – Recorded off the early ‘50s Gibson J-45 by Orange Tree Samples available here for $179.
2. Bachata Guitar for a little bit of Latin tinge for your productions by Producers Vault available here for only $69.99
3. Session Guitarist Picked Nylon from Native instruments for an incredible monophonic and polyphonic guitar available here.
4. The Rickenbacker Bass by Native instruments for the definitive sound of a Rickenbacker 4003. With this bass plug-in, you will get a crisp and detailed midrange for perfect mix placement, versatile open-picked, and palm-muted articulations, and true amp tone for unrivalled potency, for a meaty low-end and thunder, and a crispy and defined midrange.
Guitars will often inspire and carry your melodic and harmonic lines. There are countless guitar VSTs.Some are free, and purchasable that have different utility, tones, and timbre. In this tutorial, I have provided you with some of the more common options to help you get started with guitar VSTs. At the end of the day, I recommend that you experiment and compare which guitar VST suits your production style and genre, and most of all, have fun!