The guitar amp is alive and well, but thanks to digital technology, guitarists now have the option to load up a legendary rig on their desktop or right inside their DAW.
And they’re not the only ones who benefit - virtual amp emulations are there to be used and abused by musicians and producers working in any genre. The playing field is wide open, and anybody can put together a killer stack to put the heat into a tune, whatever the genre.
Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best guitar amp/effect sims that are currently available for you to buy. Read on to discover how they stack up...
Studio Devil Amp Modeler Pro
This simple package features no manufacturer- endorsed amps or fancy graphics, but the sound is excellent and there’s a selection of tone- tweaking controls and rack processing including chorus, tremolo, reverb, gate and wah-wah.
IK Multimedia AmpliTube 4
One of the most established packages available, with a vast array of endorsed amps, pedals and cabs complementing home-grown modules. Flexible routing, twin rigs and speaker cone selection give it plenty of sonic flexibility.
Positive Grid Bias series
There are multiple elements to BIAS: Bias Amp simulates amp and cab units, while Bias FX lets you build complex chains of stomboxes, amps and cabs. Bias Pedal, meanwhile, lets you model pedal effects processors at the component level.
This bundle comprises several individual plugins - Amps, Stomps and a Tuner - and GTR ToolRack, a host for combining up to six pedals, two amps and the tuner. Overall, there are 30 amps, 25 stomps and 30 cabs, all based on classic units.
Audified ampLion Pro
This one gives you independent selection of preamp and power amp, output to independent cabinets. An eight-slot pedal board precedes the amp section, and a six-slot effects rack sits after it, just before the cabinets.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 Pro
Arranged as a virtual rack interface rather than in an amp, cab and pedalboard configuration, Guitar Rig includes no branded or endorsed components, but it’s a serious contender that sounds great - and can get MIDI CC involved.
This highly regarded virtual guitar rig features a scrollable and zoomable drag and drop interface, and endorsed amp models alongside proprietary versions of classic gear (over 203 components). The built in convolver can also import IRs.
Softube Vintage Amp Room
This plugin covers three classic amp sounds - Fender, Vox and Marshall - with adjustable single mic placement for the cabinet. The sound is very good, but with no pedal board, tone shaping is limited to the amp controls.
Peavey ReValver 4
Peavey’s hardware know how has allowed it to develop an incredibly accomplished processor with highly tweakable amp, cabinet, stomp and rack effect capabilities. Its ‘audio profiling system’ can also transform the sound of your source.
Line 6 POD Farm 2.5
The intuitive splitscreen interface offers drag-and-drop rig construction, preset browsing and component editing across either single or dual signal paths. Opt for the Pro package ($299) and you’ll get over 100 guitar and bass amps.