Guitar plugin recommendations for home recording?
March 2, 2021 11:01 AM   Subscribe

For producing music at home, on a PC with Reaper, what VST/amp modeling/FX software should I be using? Seems like the main contenders are Amplitube and Native Instruments's Guitar Rig, but I'd love to hear about whatever else you got. I'm not looking for free stuff, particularly.

I'm a primarily-acoustic guitarist, fingerpicker, and songwriter, writing in kind of a Simon and Garfunkel-y vein. I've done a lot of layering of vocal harmonies, adding midi keyboards, and so on, but I still have somewhat limited options for electric guitar sounds. I could probably eenie-meenie-miney-moe it between Amplitube and Guitar Rig and maybe one or two other fairly obvious choices, and end up reasonably happy with any of them, but I thought I'd see if anybody in here has strong feelings on the subject. (What I've been posting on Instagram is mostly covers rather than original music, but if anybody's interested, this is me.) Thanks for anything you've got to say about this.
posted by Sing Or Swim to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I recently bought the latest version of Magix Acid Pro, and they included an amp plugin called Vandal. I don't really use it on guitars (I go through a modelling setup on the way in and get my tones there), but it's become my absolute go-to in terms of getting a huge bass sound. Considering how well it handles bass tracks, I figure it could make guitars sound pretty good as well.
posted by MrKellyBlah at 11:30 AM on March 2, 2021

I have never tried Amplitube. The big neg on NI Guitar Rig had been that it was old, but a new version came out last Fall. I like it fine, although I should say that I am not very demanding of it - I mostly use it to practice and play, not to record, so all I need out of it is a couple of sounds I like. There's a bunch of ambient and heavily effected presets that are fun to play with too. I got it at an upgrade price; the full version might be kind of spendy.
posted by thelonius at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2021

Back in the day I used to use a Line 6 POD. How are you interfacing the guitar with the computer? Do you already have a preamp or DI box, or a mixer with a high-z input? If not, something like the iRig HD cost around $99 or so anyway -- so you might as well splurge for a Pocket POD or similar, or an modeling amp with a USB interface.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:17 PM on March 2, 2021

I was going to suggest much the same as RobotVoodooPower. I'm seeing more and more pedals, especially amp-in-a-box style ones, with DI outputs, so if you're just looking to get a good electric guitar signal into your computer, not necessarily to digitally sculpt it into perfection, you may well be best served by just getting a DI pedal to put at the end of your signal chain, and do your tone adjustment prior to it hitting your computer.
posted by lhputtgrass at 12:57 PM on March 2, 2021

I have Overloud TH-U and like it. I was introduced to it when a lite version of the program came with Sonar a few years ago, and I liked it enough that I ended up buying the full version.

I write in a variety of styles and am generally able to make it sound however I want it to with enough tinkering. This is one of my more electric-guitar-based songs - the guitars are a combination of TH-U effects plus some other effects: Ephemera
I'm on a PC with Cubase by the way.
posted by bananana at 2:11 PM on March 2, 2021

Response by poster: I'm plugging the guitar directly into a Focusrite Solo. When I say I'm an acoustic guitar player I'm not kidding--I happen to have a Gibson hollowbody electric, but neither an amp nor pedals nor any other kind of electric guitar gear will be found littering up the joint in MY studio. :) So I'm looking for something that can turn my bare-ass electric guitar sound into any number of things. What I mostly want to do isn't all THAT experimental, I just might like a little more psychedelia to go with my Rubber Soul. Thanks for all advice so far...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:16 PM on March 2, 2021

i am friends with a hugely successful guitarist (who you may know of). he loves guitar rig and uses it both in the studio and on stage.

guitar > interface > mac > guitar rig > full range powered monitor
posted by j_curiouser at 2:27 PM on March 2, 2021

^^^ it has killer amp modeling I'm told.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:49 PM on March 2, 2021

Valhalla DSP has some really cool reverb and delay effects. You don't give a price range, but they are $50 each, which is kind of a good deal imo but it adds up if you buy lots of things piecemeal.

The good news is they have some free options, which are just as good as the paid stuff but offered to lure you in.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:10 PM on March 2, 2021

Best answer: I love Guitar Rig!

I have more serious guitarist friends who are big fans of BIAS Amp for its customizability.

But personally I love the wide array of presets in Guitar Rig I can choose and have a decent sound for X genre without having to think too much about it. It has tons of effects and amp and cab models.
posted by music for skeletons at 9:53 PM on March 2, 2021

I use a lot of Black Rooster plugins, and I got an email from them this morning. They're giving away their Cypress TT-15 for free.

Black Rooster makes some good stuff, might be worth checking out.
posted by MrKellyBlah at 10:59 AM on March 3, 2021

Have you decided what DAW you're going to use? Reaper has some stock plugins for smp sims, I was pleased with some of them. I mostly play heavier stuff, but there are decent tones to be had from Waves; that's the current version of one of their that I have, I think, and their CLA Guitars (and others) are pretty plug-and-play. Free trials.
posted by troywestfield at 12:22 PM on March 5, 2021

Response by poster: >Have you decided what DAW you're going to use?

Yeah, I've been a Reaper guy for some time. I've been getting by with their stock plugins, but I've just tried out the demo version of Guitar Rig, and I'd have to say it's VASTLY better than what I'm using, and it doesn't cost all -that- much in the great scheme of things. I tend to be a bit of a skinflint by nature but I'm considering suppressing that part of my personality just long enough to get something new to play with. :D
posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:15 PM on March 5, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks to everybody for weighing in. I ended up just getting Guitar Rig--which is perhaps the most obvious route, but the comment about presets sort of resonated. It's fun to be a mad scientist, but it's ALSO nice to be able to dial something in quickly sometimes. Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, no deposit no return, etc. Anyway, thanks!
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:17 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

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