Last Updated on December 9, 2020.
Guitar amp simulation VSTs are, more often than not, loaded on a VST Host, like a DAW or any other program with those capabilities.
There are a few however, that can be used as standalone programs, which can be useful if you want to jam a track without having to fire up your DAW.
In this article, I will list the 7 best free standalone amp simulators, as well as show you an easy way of running any amp sim that doesn’t have the standalone feature in a matter of seconds.
Best Free Standalone Amp Sims VSTs
Let’s get straight into the post!
BIAS Amp II Demo
If you’re the kind of person who likes getting into the nitty gritty of amp design, then this is definitely the plugin for you.
TS-999 'SubScreamer' is a digital emulation of an overdrive pedal for guitar. It has been developed to accurately model its real hardware counterpart, built for Subhuman guitarists Matteo Buti and Elia Murgia by Ignite Amps in 2010. That tube screamer is pretty good; but IMO the buzz port is WAY more nasty the tubescreamer with that said, smarteletronix DID do a VST version before the buzz port, but good luck finding it. Ironically, the archetypal overdrive is the Ibanez Tube Screamer, a pedal that, when cranked, doesn't sound all that much like a tube amp. Rather, its classic tone is usually found with the gain of the pedal rolled back, and the level pushed up, in front of a tube amp. A classic Ibanez Tube Screamer by Requietus. The last one is a plugin by the Requietus blog. A classic Ibanez Tube Screamer Pro TS808 emulation. The plugin comes in a bundle along with another pedal emulation such as Boss OverDrive pedal, an Amp Simulator (Marshall JCM900), etc. The VST plugin bundle is called the Simulanalog. Mercuriall Audio Software’s Tubes Creamer 808 Core is a free virtual Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer pedal emulation that you can use in your DAW. The infamous Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer pedal is associated with artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan with his incendiary Texas Blues guitar playing.
With BIAS Amp II you can control every single aspect of the amp; It does offer the usual parameters on the front like Gain, Volume, EQ, etc., but where this plugin really shines is in allowing you to switch the actual componets of the amp, likes tubes, controling the preamp, poweramp, cabinet, mic positioning, etc., to be able to tailor the sound to your needs.
The demo version will suddenly cut the audio for 5 seconds, and then you can keep playing. However, this only happens every 5 minutes or so, which means that you can use it to record if you time it correctly.
As far as the clean tones go, I’ve never tried any other amp simulation software that makes them sound as real as the Amp II, and when I’m not recording my actual live amp for clean tones, this is the plugin I use.
The overdriven tones are absolutely amazing as well, but getting them to sound how I want is a bit harder to do, at least for me.
Who is BIAS Amp II for?
I would mostly recommend it to people who have experience with real amplifiers, since otherwise you’ll get lost with ease because of all the components that can be swapped and tweaked.
If you have the patience and knowledge to really dig into the settings to adjust the sound in depth, then this is definitely the plugin for you.
If you are new, on the other hand, then check out the next plugin on this list since it will suit your needs a lot better.
Find out more about BIAS Amp II here.
BIAS FX II Demo
This is a Standalone Guitar Amp and Pedal suite that gives you access to a couple different amps, cabinets and pedals.
One feature that makes BIAS FX so good is that you can split the signal and run it through two different amp- and pedal configurations, giving you more sound design options.
Just as it happens with BIAS Amp II, the demo version of this software will cut the audio every couple minutes and then resume.
While it doesn’t offer the same in-depth amp configuration that Amp II does, you can load the amplifiers you created in Amp II on to BIAS FX and use them there, but here you have the option of adding effects, mixing it with another amp by splitting the signal, etc.
Who is BIAS FX II for?
Since it’s quite easy to use, it’s the ideal amp simulation software for beginners who don’t want to have to spend hours tweaking just the sound of the amp.
BIAS FX comes with some pre-configured amps and also some great-sounding presets, which you can use as a jumping off point to tweak the sound from.
Find out more about BIAS FX II here.
Amplitube 4 Custom Shop
Amplitube is by far the best-known amp simulation software, and it’s also the first one to come out, which means that it has had over a decade of improvements.
When you download the free version you will have access to the full version of the software for 15 days, and once the trial perioid is up you will still be able to use it but with a reduced feature count.
Amplitube is one of the more realistic-sounding amp simulators out there, plus the free version comes with a couple more amps and effects than other amp sims out there, like Guitar Rig Player.
This one can do clean tones really well, but where I think it shines is in the overdriven- and high-gain tones.
Who is Amplitube 4 Custom Shop for?
Since it’s easy to use and it also comes with quite a lot of amps, pedals, cabinets, etc. for you to play with, I think that it’s a great all-rounder that everyone should try.
But I would mostly recommend it to people who are thinking of purchasing an Amp Sim but who want to be able to try out the full software before actually spending the money.
Note: Registration needed to download and use.
Find out more about Amplitube 4 Custom Shop here.
Guitar Rig Player
Guitar Rig player is the free version of their famous Guitar Rig Pro, which is an amp simulation software used by many, both for jamming and recording as well.
The free version could use a couple extra features, since it only comes with one amp and a matched cabinet. Plus it only includes one tube screamer, which means that getting high gain tones out of it will be impossible.
However, the clean tones really do sound great, and since you will have access to different effects pedals, such as Reverb, Delay, Filter, etc., you can actually use it to create pretty convincing guitar tones.
Who is Guitar Rig Player for?
Since it’s so easy to use, I think that it’s great for beginners who want to learn how amp sims work, and in this case, having fewer features than Amplitube or BIAS FX is a pro, since it will be easier to learn.
Additionally, if you are primarily interested in recording clean guitar, then by all means, get Guitar Rig Player. Just remember that it’s not really capable of producing high gain tones.
Note: Registration needed to download and use.
Find out more about Guitar Rig Player here.
Despite its installation process being a bit annoying -since you need to register and wait for an email with a serial number, then download and install using that serial number-, I do think that Amplion has a lot to offer.
The free version comes with a 5-channel guitar amp and two different cabinets where you can adjust the mic placement to control the tone.
Now, the free version doesn’t come with any effects, which is a shame, but it does come with a built-in media player that lets you load iTunes or MP3 playlists to play along.
As far as the sound quality goes, it’s nowhere near as good as any of the previous software I described, but hey, it’s free!
Who is Amplion for?
Since it barely uses any CPU resources, it may be suitable for anyone with a low-specced PC, and since the clean tones don’t sound half bad, I can also see people enjoying those.
Find out more about Amplion here.
Amped Roots Free
The whole point behind this free amp simulation plugin is to be as simple as possible and to sound perfect right out of the box, and I think they nailed it.
I can absolutely recommend it to anyone who is interested in getting realistic heavy tones out of their guitar, especially if you are just starting out, since every single preset sounds fantastic and since it doesn’t feature too many different controls.
This is by far the best free amp simulator for hevy tones that is currently available, so make sure to check it out!
Additionally, it comes with a Noise Gate, a Drive pedal, a Delay and a Reverd, and all of them are accessible on the “Pedalboard” panel.
Who is Amped Roots Free for?
Anyone who is into metal, djent, or any other high-gaing genre, especially if you’re just starting out since it’s so easy to make it sound great, plus it’s free and it works as a Plugin or Standalone program.
Find out more about Amped Roots Free here.
Guitar Amp 2 Free Edition by Plektron
This is an older guitar amp simulator, but it’s one of the few that is free and that also works as a standalone unit.
It comes with one british amp, a couple cabinets, a bass amp, a tuner and some effects pedals, but that’s about it.
The sound quality isn’t very realistic, but it can certainly be used to come up with different tones in a creative way.
Still, I’d encourage you to try it out since it’s completely free and lightweight.
Who is Guitar Amp 2 for?
Anyone who wants to experiment and get different tones from what regular amp sims can achieve, since it doesn’t sound that realistic.
Find out more about Guitar Amp 2 here.
These are all the Amp Simulators I could find that work as a standalone program, but did you know that you can use a VST Host to run any amp sim, even if they don’t work as a standalone program?
Using a VST Host to load any Amp Simulation Plugin
A DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation, works as a VST Host, in the sense that it lets you load those VSTs and run them.
However, there are other similar programs that are designed to do that, and this means that you could run any amp sim on a very light piece of software without having to download a complete DAW.
So, yes! You can run any amp sim on a lightweight VST Host and not just a DAW.
Here’s how to do it;
Head over to hermanseib.com and download the VSTHost program, then copy all the files into a folder.
Now you can run VSTHost by double-clicking on it.
You will need to configure the Audio Settings in order for it to work; Click on “Devices” and then on “Wave”.
Here you can choose your Input and Output devices. In my case I only needed to set the Output Port to “ASIO: Audient USB Driver” and it already worked perfectly.
After this you can load a new plugin by clicking on “File” and then on “New Plugin”.
Once you open the amp simulator you want, to configure it you will need to click the button that looks like a little knob, and this will open the plugin’s interface to let you adjust its settings.
And that’s it!
Now you can get any Amp Simulator you want and run it on your PC without the need of using a DAW.
And now, here’s one honorable mention!
TH3 Free: Comes with Cakewalk
Cakewalk is one of my favorite DAWs, especially since it’s completely free and doesn’t come with any limitations. The only issue is that it’s for Windows only… Sorry Mac users.
With it you get TH3 Free, which is an Amp Simulation software that is very similar to TH-U by Overloud but instead of costing like $200, you get it free here.
So, not only do you get one amazing DAW for free, but you also get an amp simulation software for free as well.
While this list was mainly aimed at freeware amp sims, there are some benefits to purchasing one; be it to get more features or to remove the annoying silences that occur on BIAS FX and BIAS Amp.
BIAS Amp II and BIAS FX II
You can get the basic versions of both amp simulators for $50 each, which might seem like a lot, but some other programs sell for $300+, so this is actually quite affordable.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, BIAS Amp II lets you customize your virtual amp in ways that no other amp simulator has ever been able to, and it sounds extremely realistic.
BIAS FX is perfect for any beginner because of how easy it is to use, plus it also sounds amazing.
Just remember that you will be able to use the amps you created in BIAS Amp II inside of BIAS FX, which means that it may make a lot of sense to get both.
Find out more about BIAS Amp II and BIAS FX II here.
Archetype Plini by Neural DSP
Archetype features three different amps: Clean, Crunchy, and Lead, and they all sound fantastic!
A compressor and booster/overdrive pedal are included to provide additional flexibility and adaptability to different styles and instruments, as well as a 9-band EQ, and some Reverb and Delay effects.
Lastly, it includes a cab sim.
And that’s really it…
It’s a super simple amp simulation plugin that comes with a very clean and clear interface, making everything super intuitive… and the sound is just absurdly good!
Not only that but you can try it for free, since they offer a free 14-day trial.
Note: Neural DSP created a lot of other amp sims that you should also check out.
Find out more about Archetype Plini here.
PRS Supermodels by Waves
Tube Screamer Plugin
The PRS Supermodels were created by Waves in collaboration with Paul Reed Smith.
Even though you only get three amps, they are actually quite versatile, allowing you to achieve loads of different tones which should fit in perfectly in every mix.
The three amps you get are; The Dallas, Archon, and Blue Sierra/V9.
The Dallas and V9 are for more laid-back styles of playing, while the Archon is designed completely for metal and other heavy styles.
I actually like the V9 a lot for rock/metal guitar solos as well… the tone is just killer!
This plugin bundle is super affordable, setting you back only about $39 (at the time of writing this article).
Find out more about the PRS Supermodels here.
While having standalone amp sims maes a lot of sense, since you don’t want to be opening a huge DAW just to play some guitar, you can actually get any guitar amp sim and use the VST Host program I linked earlier.
I aso listed a couple premium amp sims here because sadly, most free ones don’t come even close to the paid ones.
Still, I’d recommend you try every single amp sim on this list, and then move on from there.
I hope this information was useful.
Tube Screamer Vst Free
Have a wonderful day!