Can ChatGPT create a VST plugin version of the Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal on its own?

AI conversationalist ChatGPT has got a lot of people feeling a little twitchy about their future employment prospects (insert your own ‘gag’ here about it already being able to write better than your trusty MusicRadar correspondent) and it seems that plugin developers might end up being in the firing line at some point, too.

In the slightly chilling video above, YouTuber Burned Guitarist sets about trying to get ChatGPT to create a virtual version of the classic Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that the famous digital motormouth knows what the Tube Screamer is, and instantly provides a stock definition, but what’s more shocking is that, when asked to write some code for an implementation of a Tube Screamer VST plugin, it immediately starts churning it out in C++.

It doesn’t end there, though: after providing a more specific implementation of what a Tube Screamer plugin might look like, ChatGPT reveals that it also knows various frameworks for deploying VST plugins, such as the Steinberg SDK, JUCE, and LV2.

So, the next challenge is for ChatGPT to provide the code for the Steinberg SDK and, once again, it proves to be up to the task. It’s confirmed that it recognises the Tube Screamer circuit, and after a bit of back and forth between ChatGPT and the SDK, Burned Guitarist is able to create a plugin that, while not perfect, creates a fuzzy, ring modulated sound.

ChatGPT is then asked to create some code that sounds a little smoother and, eventually, to come up with a basic GUI. It doesn’t quite manage to do this on its own, but with some additional integration code provided by Burned Guitarist, the end result is a working VST effect, albeit one that doesn’t really sound like a Tube Screamer.

We’d still call this an impressive achievement, though, and one that makes us wonder what could be possible in the future. The idea that you could simply imagine a plugin and tell a computer to create it for you might seem fanciful, but experiments like this demonstrate that it could be possible sooner than you think.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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