In this article, I enlist and review the top 6 electric guitar instrument plugins for strumming and playing leads in 2023.
Virtual guitar plugins have come a long way since the early years of the last decade. We’ve seen incredible guitar sample libraries covering acoustic, electric, and bass guitars.
Furthermore, you can find guitar amp plugins like IK Multimedia Amplitube 5 and TH-U Overloud with uncanny realism on the market for a fraction of the price of similar hardware.
In a nutshell, here are the best electric guitar plugins in 2023:
When selecting an electric guitar plugin, you have to know how you intend to use it. Some plugins are excellent for playing rhythms, thanks to their pre-recorded loops and phrases.
Conversely, some work better for playing leads because they have more articulations, dynamism, and general playability. And some might handle either equally.
As a guitarist, I am pretty picky when it comes to selecting virtual guitar plugins. However, I’m certainly not against them as they save time, effort, and sometimes money (when you can’t afford an $8,000+ Gibson Les Paul Custom!).
So, my picks in this list include specialized rhythm guitars that are beginner-friendly and realistic, deeply sampled guitars with nearly every possible articulation and technique.
Let’s get right on the list!
Top 6 Electric Guitar VST/AU Plugins 2023
1. Ujam SPARKLE 2 NEW*
SPARKLE 2 is a virtual guitarist that can play chords, octaves, and single-note electric guitar riffs in a studio setting.
Although similar to its predecessor, SPARKLE 2 is an entirely new piece of software, offering a wide range of improvements in realism, flexibility, and creative processing techniques within the plugin’s user interface. They re-recorded the whole sample library from scratch to match the improved adaptability and realism built into the updated plugin.
It features a brand-new guitarist. It can be used with the original SPARKLE by those who already have it. This way, you can hard-pan one instrument to the left and the other to the right, creating genuine stereo guitar parts with no phasing. You can use both versions of the virtual guitarist together if you find a preset from the original that you like.
There are countless possibilities for guitar rhythms across numerous genres with SPARKLE 2’s over 30 styles and 350 phrases, and they’re all unique from the initial release. In addition, UJAM has also added an Open Chords function, expanding the harmonic capabilities and giving users access to a wider range of sounds than they had in the original SPARKLE.
- Midi Drag and Drop
SPARKLE 2 incorporates UJAM’s Instrument mode, letting you create realistic guitar parts from scratch. Instrument mode “unlocks” the virtual guitarist and enables you to play everything note by note, including open, half-muted, and fully muted notes, whereas Player mode uses premade MIDI phrases to allow you to create guitar parts you like instantly.
In this setting, you have access to every articulation in SPARKLE 2, allowing you to shape the sound in any way you like.
You may quickly switch between clean and polished, grunge, and even indie rock sounds with the preset in SPARKLE 2. Adapting this guitarist’s behavior to your song’s specific needs is as simple as adjusting the Amp and Character sliders. Next, use the Drive knob to give the signal that extra push it needs to reach the desired temperature after all other avenues of improvement have been exhausted.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
Sparkle is a good option for media composers and solo music producers who need a quick and easy way to get a fully polished strummed guitar part. They are also quite cheap, especially considering their intended market.
2. Ample Guitar LP (Les Paul)
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
The best sounds of one of Gibson’s most iconic instruments are housed in this plugin.
The Gibson Les Paul was first introduced in 1952 as a signature model for Les Paul himself. As the years progressed, the instrument got the shape that we know and love today, with two humbucker pickups and solid construction. Ample Guitar brings this instrument to your DAW with good-quality samples and functions, feeling much like the original instrument.
- Vintage inspired
In 1957, the Les Paul guitar saw the introduction of the famous humbucker pickups, but only in 1958 did they get their iconic “burst” appearance. They switched from gold paint to sunburst, and this reflected not only aesthetics: the wood used in the tops was also improved, with plain selections of awesome maple pieces. This is an important element of the “Les Paul Sound,” and Ample Guitar sought to reproduce the 1958 model as best as possible in this collection.
- Double mode
Sometimes, you may want to double the guitar part in your track for a specific moment or an entire section. Instead of recording it twice, you can simply activate the “Double Guitar” mode and have instant twin guitar melodies from single MIDI input.
- Amp simulation
The electric guitar only makes sense when plugged into an electric amplifier. To cover this, Ample Guitar included six renditions of famous models: “Metal Double” (Mesa Boogie Dual), “Metal Treble” (Mesa Boogie Triple), “Lead 800” (Marshall JCM 800), “Jazz 120” (Roland Jazz Chorus 120), “65 Twang” (Fender Twin Reverb 1965), and “57 Delight” (Fender Deluxe 1957).
Another crucial aspect of an authentic guitar tone involves the cabinets working alongside the amplifiers. You can opt to load them in 1x12, 2x12, and 4x12 settings, with specific models for each brand included in each configuration.
The “Riffer” is an algorithm created to assist you in creating good-sounding riffs automatically. You can create them randomly through the “Die” symbol, but also choose the pitch tuning, articulations used, specific fingering, and much more.
- Mic selection
You can choose to mic your amp with eight different models: “U87,” “C414,” “MD421,” “SM57,” “E609,” “C414 XLS,” “R121,” and “M160.”
- Vintage inspired
This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in standalone mode and VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
Virtual instruments are hard to capture, especially instruments that depend on their physical construction to resonate. Electric guitars fall into this category, but somehow Ample Guitar managed to achieve a decent result in capturing the nuances behind not only the guitar tone but the techniques and articulations involved when playing one.
The equipment offered in this library is also decent, and if you don’t have a trustworthy guitarist around, this might be a good option to quickly record some guitar parts.
3. Ample Sound Guitar SC (Stratocaster)
More Info & Price
Ample Sound has developed many impressive sampled guitars, and this plugin’s an excellent example.
The Fender Stratocaster is one of the most notorious guitars ever designed. It’s known for its nasally single-coil pickups that suit just about every genre. And the Ample Guitar Stratocaster (AGSC) features samples of the Stratocaster combined with a highly flexible engine.
The samples are divided into three libraries of different pickup setups: neck, neck + middle, and middle + bridge.
As good as the Stratocaster sounds, you might be looking for another instrument. Luckily, Ample Sound has a range of plugins sampling iconic electric guitars like Gibson Les Paul, PRS 24, and even the 9-string Schecter Hellraiser.
The features of most of these plugins are the same as the ones I list below. So, you only need to find out which sound you prefer.
AGSC allows you to tune each string to your liking, although it only lets you tune it down a maximum of 2 semitones. However, it’s enough to achieve popular tunings like Drop-D. The new tuning affects the strummer, tab, and articulations with a natural sound.
The strummer mode lets you create strum patterns by programming strokes such as down strum, up strum, muted down strum, etc., on a step sequencer. You can then play chords, and AGSC will play the pattern you have created (or selected from the presets). You can customize the strum time, velocity, release, timing, etc.
The Riffer panel lets you create riffs or arpeggio patterns that you can then assign to chords. You can write the pattern the stroking hand plays on each string and assign articulations (mute, open, palm mute, etc.), velocity, vibrato, and legato.
The Tab Player can load and play several relevant tablature file formats, including the ones from Guitar Pro 3+. You can use it to export your tabs as audio files in a DAW. However, you cannot export tabs from MIDI clips in your DAW.
- Amp And Cabinet
The plugin features six amp-simulations ranging from Fender Twin Reverb and Fender Deluxe to Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier and Marshall JCM800. You can also change the cabinets, mics and mix them with room mics. The amp selections are excellent; they range from soft clean tones to overdriven lead sounds. So, even if you don’t have a dedicated guitar amp simulation plugin, the built-in collection sounds fabulous and works well.
- Effect Processors
AGSC features four effect processors: an 8-band EQ, compressor, delay, and convolution reverb. The EQ is a superb parametric EQ with a sleek interface. The same could be said for the rest of the effects. And the convolution reverb provides four impulse responses: room, studio, hall, and larger hall.
Ample Guitar SC is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
AGSC is one of the most detailed virtual electric guitars available today. It’s also more detailed than other Ample Sound guitar plugins, proven by the multiple libraries for the pickups. So, whether you are looking to play rock riffs or clean trap melodies, you can use AGSC and get instant results.
Furthermore, AGSC provides many presets to get you started, even if you aren’t experienced in programming guitars.
4. Ample Sound Guitar TC (Telecaster)
More Info & Price
Discover the sound of the first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar.
The Fender Telecaster was introduced in 1950, taking the world by storm, and has remained in production even today. It is a versatile guitar, usable for many genres like blues, jazz, rock, country, R&B, metal, etc. Its sound comes from its iconic single-coil pickups, of which the bridge pickup is slanted.
The slant gives a subtly brighter sound to the thinner strings while giving a mellower tone to the thicker ones.
Ample Guitar Telecaster (AGTC) brings renowned sound to your studio in software form. It has two sample libraries dedicated to the pickup positions: neck and bridge. Similarly, you can enable doubling, mono/stereo modes, etc., to change the base sound of your guitar.
It uses key switches to let you program the natural-sounding rhythm and lead parts. Let’s have a look at its other features:
You can change the tuning of the guitar by up to two semitones. And you can use multiple capo logics, which provide various fingering algorithms suitable for different performances like solo, rhythm, etc.
- Supports Tabs
AGTC can read tablature files from Guitar Pro, Ultimate Guitar, etc., without converting them into MIDI. You can use this feature to open your guitar arrangements into your DAW and render them as audio.
- Play Riffs And Leads
The Riffer page lets you create riffs and melodies inside the plugin. It features a simple piano roll, where you can write the stroke for each guitar string, resulting in riffs and arpeggio. If you use the articulations like legato, hammer, harmonics, slide, palm muting, etc., you can even write melodic parts without touching your DAW’s midi editor.
You can create strumming parts by creating patterns of strokes like down strum, up strum, muted strums, etc. Then, you can hold chords and change the fret positions as AGTC plays the strumming pattern you have created or loaded from the presets. There are several parameters that humanize and customize the playing too.
Every electric guitar needs a set of amp and cabinet to sound good. So, AGTC provides you with six amp and matching cabinets: Mesa Boogie Double/Triple, Marshall JCM800, Roland RC120, Fender Twin Reverb, and Fender Deluxe. Next, you’ll find eight virtual mic options to record the cabinet, including Neumann U87 and Shure SM57. You can mix two mics with the room mics to get the kind of sound you want.
The plugin features four effect processors: parametric EQ with eight bands, compressor, six-tap delay, and IR reverb with four impulses. All of these are highly visual and feature sleek interfaces. In most cases, you will not need any other effect plugin in your DAW’s mixer.
AGTC is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
AGTC accurately recreates the sound of the Fender Telecaster, and the realism of the engine is laudable. I love how the built-in amp simulations and the effect processors are high-quality, customizable, and genuinely useful for mixing.
The plugin also features hundreds of presets that help you get started.
5. UJAM Virtual Guitarist IRON 2
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
As usual, UJAM delivers the most straightforward solutions—this time, for creating rock rhythms and riffs the quickest way.
Iron 2 is a virtual guitarist best for playing rhythms for rock, metal, and similar genres. It features over 350 sampled phrases in 30 styles played by a studio session guitarist. The interface lets you customize the guitar itself and the amp/effect processors.
You can switch through patterns and chords using key switches.
Similarly, you can also use Iron 2 as a playable instrument. You can hold chords, strum or play individual strings, and play melodic riffs. It features several articulations for riff performance too.
- Player Mode
In the Player mode, Iron 2 plays pre-recorded strums and phrases. It’s an excellent way to get realistic rhythm tracks, even if you have no idea how to play the guitar. The keyboard will have three sections of key switches: Common Phrases, Style Phrases, and Play Range.
Common Phrases remain the same all the time, whereas you can change Style phrases with the Style dropdown menu. And under the Play Range, you can input the chords you want Iron 2 to play.
- Instrument Mode
This mode allows you to play Iron 2 as a standard guitar instrument. You can hold chords with one hand and strum/arpeggiate with your other hand, just like a real guitarist. Or, you can play leads and riffs.
Iron 2 features five articulations for playing leads: open, half-muted, muted, dead, and stops. You can also bend the notes using your pitch bend wheel.
- Trigger And Latch
In the Instrument mode, you can disable Trigger so that you can hold chords with your hand without it sounding until you use a strumming/picking key with your other hand. Similarly, Latch mode lets you hold chords without having to hold them manually. These two features are handy for playing live with a MIDI controller.
- Guitar Sound
Iron 2 lets you blend between the neck and the bridge pickup—it will change the tone of your guitar. Furthermore, you can change the character of your pickups from warm humbuckers to sharp Telecaster single-coils using the Character selector.
- Guitar Amp
Next, you can choose from five kinds of guitar amp and cabinet simulations. They include clean, crisp, cream, crunch, and metal. If you’d rather use a dedicated guitar amp simulation software, you can set Iron 2’s amp option to Direct.
The last step of customizing your guitar sound is using effect processors. Iron 2 features a Stomp Box dropdown menu where you can select from 30 effects that create classic guitar sounds. They include simple effects like chorus and tremolo to rotary and reverse.
The Finisher section lets you add even more effect processors with built-in combinations of no less than 20 effect plugins per preset. It has over sixty effect chain presets built-in, and you can control the mix level.
Iron 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.14 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2, AU, and AAX formats.
Ujam instruments provide excellent results with minimal effort. I love how Iron 2 lets you play pre-recorded phrases as well as custom riffs and rhythms. The phrases are ideal for realistic rhythm parts, whereas creating new riffs works well to bring changes to your song.
Furthermore, if you happen to use Studio One, Iron 2 integrates well with its Chord Track. It makes adding a guitar track to your song even easier.
6. MusicLab RealStrat 5
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Get the classic sound of the Fender Stratocaster with extraordinary playability.
MusicLab RealStrat 5 comes with two sample sets: standard and elite. The standard is the legacy version of this instrument plugin, fully backward compatible with previous versions. And the elite is the newer version featuring three pickups: neck, mid, and bridge. Further, it features seven pickup combinations. Hence, it gives more sonic opportunities.
RealStrat 5 features many guitar-specific techniques and articulations.
It can detect thirty types of 1-4 note piano chords, including sus2, sus4, add9, 6th, 7th, etc., in any inversion. Furthermore, you can play chords in four fret positions and even build custom chords from scratch.
On the main interface, you can customize the velocity-dependent accent level, pick position, etc. Similarly, you’ll find double-tracking, 12-string modes, baritone tuning, etc. These features let you create and perform unique guitar sounds that would otherwise be tedious to achieve.
- Solo Mode
The Solo mode lets you program/perform leading melodies with undeniable realism. Articulations like muting, palm muting, harmonics, stop slap, fret noises, feedback, hammering, pull-off, sliding, etc., help make sophisticated solo parts come to life. It also features unusual articulations like tremolo, violining, feedback, etc., making RealStrat 5 a comprehensive virtual guitar for playing melodies.
- Harmony And Chords
There are four more modes: harmony, chords, bass’n’chord, bass’n’pick. The chords mode lets you program/perform rhythm parts using key switches to trigger different strums (up, down, mute, etc.).
Similarly, bass’n’chord and bass’n’pick let you perform rhythms and arpeggios while writing bass lines separately. Unless you’re making guitar arrangements, you’ll want to stick with the Chords mode for rhythm.
Each mode features a Humanize button that lets you randomize the sound, timing, velocity, stroking errors, and pitch of the plugin. And you’re fully in control of how much each aspect is randomized, which is handy. It adds another layer of realism to your guitar parts.
- Build Arrangements
RealStrat 5’s Song Mode features hundreds of guitar rhythms and arpeggio arrangements. You’ll find patterns for the intro, verse, chorus, etc., arranged as “song tracks.” You can build new arrangements too.
Once you have an arrangement, assign chords over the song track, and you’re done. I like to export the arrangement as a MIDI so that I can edit the performance further.
RealStrat 5 comes with 1,250 rhythm patterns covering a wide range of music styles. The patterns are divided into various genres and time signatures, making it easy to find the style you need. Once you find one, you can either use the Song Mode to build your song’s guitar track or drag and drop the pattern into your DAW.
RealStrat 5 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
I like the sound of the Fender Stratocaster for playing rhythms. It cuts through the mix but avoids dominating vocals and other instruments.
So, I would recommend it for genres like trap and hip-hop alongside traditional genres like rock, pop, jazz, and blues.
Of course, you can also use it for playing leads—after all, MusicLab electric guitars are uncannily realistic. Since RealStrat 5 doesn’t have built-in effect processors, you’ll need dedicated guitar amp simulation software.
Like with RealLPC, you’ll receive a free IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop plugin with 24 gear models.
3 Best Free Electric Guitar Plugins 2023
1. Spitfire Audio LABS Electric Guitar
More Info & Download
From the giant library that is free, Spitfire LABS comes to an excellent sample-based electric guitar.
Recorded and created by guitarists Leo Wyatt, Keith Theodosiou, and Dino Pollano, LABS Electric Guitar is a collection of guitar sounds. The sounds are suitable for specific scoring styles, pop, trap, hip-hop, 80s rock, etc. And the user interface is straightforward, with only two faders.
The sounds of this plugin are pre-processed. You’ll find a chorused Fender Telecaster, pop-like Fender Stratocaster, and a darker, driven Ibanez. I would suggest using it to play melodies and arpeggios. You can’t play rhythms without a strumming engine unless you intend to keep it super simple.
All LABS instruments boast simplicity, and this one’s no different. You can adjust the amount of reverb, dynamics, and volume using the available parameters, and that’s it! However, it’s enough for adding arpeggio patterns and short riffs.
Spitfire LABS is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
I would recommend Spitfire LABS Electric Guitar when you need something simple that sounds decent. Each instrument in the plugin has a specific ambiance or mood and exploiting it rewards you well. And in this case, I find the sounds usable for 80s style music, film scoring, or chill hip-hop tracks.
2. Suburban Guitarist
More Info & Download
This plugin is a physical modeling guitar sound generator.
Suburban Guitarist is an electric guitar synthesizer. Although it doesn’t quite sound like any real guitar, you can use it with a guitar amp simulation plugin and get decent enough power chords or short riffs. Using automation on its parameters improves how convincing it sounds.
The plugin features two modes: Lead and Rhythm. The first is monophonic, whereas the latter is polyphonic. Next, you can assign whether you want the pitch bend to bend the string, slide, or use the whammy bar. You can automate this selector to switch to the mode you require in a particular riff.
You can apply palm muting, harmonics, and vibrato using automation on the parameters of the same names. And the humanization parameter simulates an out-of-sync fretting and picking hand, which often happens when playing live.
Suburban Guitarist is available for Windows 7 or higher, 32-bit only. It comes in VST 2 format.
If you require a basic rock guitar that can play some riffs and chords, Suburban Guitarist is a decent choice. However, since it doesn’t have an automatic chord mode, I suggest checking out guitar chord diagrams on the internet.
Then, you can understand how guitarists hold chords and add a layer of realism. And finally, download free guitar amp simulators like LePou plugins to use with this guitar.
3. CutterMusic Revitar 2
More Info & Download
Revitar 2 is a guitar synthesizer that sounds like a semi-acoustic guitar.
The plugin is capable of several playing techniques. It simulates a physically modeled guitar body, strings, and a plectrum to generate its sound. So, unlike sampled guitars, it doesn’t rely on round-robins to generate a new sound every time you play a note.
You can customize the shape of the guitar body and the pick to manipulate the generated sound. It has six types of standard guitar bodies, and you can intuitively reshape the pick using the UI. You can also add sympathetic resonance to add realistic string vibrations. And the pick section lets you control the speed and volume of the picking.
The plugin features these articulations: slides, hammer-on/pull-off, and forcing single string. Automating the knobs under the Damping section lets you introduce palm, bridge, and string muting. Here, the latter controls how “new” your string is. You can also change the position of the pick, pickup, slide speed, etc.
Revitar 2 has a strange way of performing rhythms. Instead of key switches, it has a strum direction toggle (down, up, up-down alternating), chord type selector, and rate of strumming. You can automate all of these parameters and create rhythm parts.
Similarly, you can add vibrato with automation and switch to mono mode to play melodies.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2 format.
It is possible to make Revitar 2 sound slightly like a Stratocaster, especially when you add a guitar amp plugin. However, it sounds more like a semi-acoustic and a rather synthetic one at that. So, I would only suggest it as a temporary placeholder before switching to a better instrument.
Then again, it could be the perfect instrument for the people after an original sound!
1. MusicLab RealLPC
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
MusicLab has created one of the most full-featured electric guitar plugins available.
Artists like Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin have used the Les Paul Custom, a higher-end variation of the Gibson classic Les Paul. The variant in RealLPC has the newer two-pickup configuration and a warm, bell-like sound suitable for various genres, including rock, pop, blues, and jazz.
However, it’s the player engine that sets RealLPC apart from its competitors. It has a vast number of articulations, features, and customizability. For instance, you can select from three pickup configurations: neck, bridge, and both.
If you choose both, you can adjust the level of each pickup. Likewise, you can customize the velocity-dependent accent level and picking position.
It also features double-tracking and baritone tuning (perfect fourth lower). Overall, if you know how to play the guitar or wish to get the most amount of flexibility and realism, I would highly recommend MusicLab products.
- Multiple Modes
On the interface, you’ll find multiple modes under MIDI and Multi tabs. Under MIDI, you’ll find these modes: Solo, Harmony, Chords, Bass’n’Chord, and Bass’n’Pick. In general, you’ll use Solo and Chords modes the most.
The Solo mode lets you play melodies and leads, whereas the Chords mode lets you play rhythm manually.
- Playing Lead
In Solo Mode, you can assign many articulations to various key switches, CC inputs, velocity, etc. These articulations include mute, bridge mute, harmonics, feedback, hammer-on/pull-off, bending, legato, slide, etc. You can also activate Humanize mode to introduce mutes randomly, fret buzzes, timing errors, etc.
- Playing Rhythm
If you prefer building dynamic rhythm parts, enable Chords mode and create your strum rhythm using your DAW’s piano roll. Next, record chords to make RealLPC detect them and play the rhythm.
Switch to the Pattern Manager and use one of the 1,250 rhythm and arpeggio patterns in the plugin. On this page, you can play any chord you like, and the plugin will play the rhythm/arpeggio for you. You can also drag and drop the patterns into your DAW and edit them in Chords mode to make them livelier.
- Song Mode
In this mode, you’ll find built-in song arrangements to construct guitar parts. The browser features a style filter that lets you find relevant patterns by musical criteria. Once you have an arrangement you like, you can add chords to it and build your song’s guitar part. Next, you can use the Humanize feature to add realism to your guitar before exporting it as a MIDI file into your DAW for further editing.
RealLPC is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
As a guitarist, I’ve used RealLPC to create guitar tracks in a tight timeline that sounds super convincing in a mix. The plugin uses deep sampling with up to 30 round-robins to create uncanny realism.
Similarly, the programming is astounding and produces smooth, realistic results, particularly in the Solo mode. However, you do need dedicated amp simulation software for this plugin.
Hence, MusicLab provides you with a free IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop plugin with 24 free gears. It gets you started and helps you learn how best to expand your virtual gadgets in the future.
2. MusicLab RealRick 5
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
The latest MusicLab electric guitar takes on the sound of the Beatles with the notorious Rickenbacker guitars.
RealRick 5 features two Rickenbacker electric guitars: a six-string and a twelve-string. Both sound metallic and “ringing” than their other models, making them ideal for rock or pop music. Furthermore, there are multiple variations of the guitars that provide even more sonic possibilities.
The plugin provides high-quality samples with an engine that delivers incredible playability.
Straightforward keyboard layout and detailed articulations make it possible for a keyboardist to perform like a veteran guitarist, whether rhythm or lead.
RealRick 5 comes with eight guitar patches: 6-string mono, 12-string A mono, 12-string B mono, 6-string stereo/double-track, 12-string A and B stereo/mono, 12-string A and B stereo, and 12-string A and B double-tracked.
The stereo and double-tracked patches sound excellent for playing rhythm.
You can customize the accent levels to control how your guitar responds to velocity changes. Similarly, you can change the pick position on the fly and even randomize it to get hands-on control over the tone of the performance. Setting the pick near the neck makes it sound warmer, whereas moving it towards the bridge makes it funkier and biting.
- Playing Leads
The Solo mode lets you play lead parts with your keyboard and perform complex articulations by merely pushing key switches. The articulations include muting, harmonics, noises, violining, feedback, hammer-on, pull-off, slides, vibrato, tremolo, etc. You can customize the key switches to play the articulations you want by using the key switch editor. This feature is available in all MusicLab guitars.
- Playing Rhythm
Use the Harmony, Chords, Bass’n’Chord, and Bass’n’Pick modes to play rhythm or arpeggios. The Chords mode allows you to use key switches to strum the guitar. Inputting chords is as simple as playing them on your keyboard. RealRick 5 can detect 30 chord types and even lets you build new chords from scratch.
- Pattern Library
The plugin features a pattern library of 1,250 rhythm and arpeggio performances. The genre-categorized browser makes it easy for you to find the pattern you need. And once you do, drag and drop the pattern into your DAW to continue editing it. Just remember to go back to the Chords mode once you are done!
Features like Song Mode and Humanization make it easy to “tell” RealRick 5 what you want it to perform. Create entire guitar part arrangements or select one of the built-in song tracks, assign chords of your song, and the virtual guitarist plays for you. Just like the patterns, you can export the entire arrangement to your DAW and edit further. And finally, add sound, timing, velocity, and pitch randomization to make it livelier using the Humanize feature.
RealRick 5 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
If you are a fan of the 60s rock and roll or the 80s indie-pop, RealRick 5 could become your go-to electric guitar.
It is highly flexible, sounds realistic, and delivers the high-treble, jingle-jangle rhythm guitar sound instantly. The plugin comes bundled with a free IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop plugin with 24 gears.
3. UVI Workstation Strategy By AcousticSamples (UVI Sample Library)
More Info & Price
As the name suggests, Strategy is a sample library of the Fender Stratocaster.
By now, we are familiar with the much admired, nearly seventy years old electric guitar. Strategy features a sample set per pickup: neck, middle, and bridge. And it not only gives you the five positions available on the real guitar, but it lets you control the levels of the pickups separately.
The library comes with several effect processors and guitar amp models too. And I’m happy to say that the effects are very effective and high-quality. So, you can get a complete guitar mix right from inside UVI Workstation without using dedicated software.
- Strumming Machine
The Strumming Machine lets you strum the guitar using key switches. The key switches include up strum, down strum, muted, legato, and fingerpicking. It can detect any chord you play on your keyboard and translate it to a guitar voicing. Furthermore, you can even perform hammer-on and pull-offs while strumming or picking. Using this feature can make your guitars sound much more realistic.
- Solo Mode
Don’t let the minimalistic look of this mode fool you. There may not be many buttons to tweak here, but the intelligent script makes your performance sound flawless. It detects the appropriate hand position every time you play a lead. Furthermore, it automatically triggers legato, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. And finally, key switches trigger palm mutes, harmonics, percussive sounds, and legato modes.
In the Patterns Mode, you can create original patterns featuring strumming, picking, and fingerpicking. These patterns can be of any length and adapt to the tempo/time signature of your host. Furthermore, it comes with a large number of preset patterns that you could use in your projects.
- Song Builder
This panel lets you assign a chord to any note on your keyboard. So, you can press a C note to trigger C minor instead of having to hold the triad. It makes the process of performing entire songs easier. And Strategy comes with a selection of presets to inspire chord progressions.
- Sound Design
Strategy features ten effects and eight guitar-amp models. The effect processors include chorus, phaser, flanger, wah, tremolo, delay, rotary, tube saturation, tone stack, and spring reverb. Similarly, the amps include selections from Marshall, Fender, and other known brands.
UVI Workstation is available for Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The most significant advantage of Strategy over other similar instruments is that it features many effect processors and amp models for nearly the exact cost.
However, it does lack some of the more advanced features in the Solo mode, but it makes up for it with its competent Pattern mode.
That isn’t to say that Strategy cannot sound realistic—it’s one of the most convincing guitar sample libraries in the market! So, the decision ultimately relies on which Stratocaster sounds the best to you.
Choosing an electric guitar plugin, like choosing a real guitar, is a confusing process. Your decision should be based on how you find the sound of the guitar itself, rather than reviews or suggestions.
Although, it’s probably become apparent that your choices mainly include either a Fender or a Gibson!
There’s a reason for that, though. A Fender Stratocaster tends to sound genuinely good for just about any genre. And when it sounds too bright, switching to a Gibson Les Paul is almost a natural choice.
So, my suggestion is that if you prefer complete control and flexibility, try the MusicLab instruments. They can sound as realistic as virtual guitars could get, whether it’s for rhythm or lead.
However, it might get costly in the long term because it doesn’t come with built-in guitar amps/effect processors.
And you’ll undoubtedly want to upgrade to a bigger bundle of gears as soon as you get your hands on Amplitube—trust me, I’ve been there!
However, if you’re after an alternative that sounds just as good and includes built-in effects, Ample Sound is difficult to beat for a slightly higher price. Compared to MusicLab, Ample Sound falls a couple of articulations short but provides better value for an in-the-box mixing experience.
And finally, if you like the UVI instruments environment, AcousticSample Strategy is another solid choice for a Fender Stratocaster. And using it is more straightforward than the previous ones I’ve mentioned, but it’s certainly not as simple as UJAM Iron 2.
In the end, I recommend listening to their demos and checking out the workflow to make your decision. And with that, we come to the conclusion of this article—thank you for reading!
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