Last updated on July 4, 2019 by

With thousands of amp sims on the market it’s hard to figure out which one’s right for you. So to help you find the perfect fit, I’ve put together this list: The 15 Best Amp Sims of 2019!

But before we continue, I’m guessing you’re here because you want to make music that sounds professional in your home studio.

Finding the right amp sim is important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

That’s why I created this new free training for people who want the entire framework for pro mixes.

Inside, I share the single most important recording and mixing discovery of my life.

This ONE thing that I discovered gave me the ability to walk into my home studio and finish a track that sounded radio-ready in a matter of hours.

So, if you just want a shortcut to pro-quality mixes, watch this on-demand training now:

But if you just want to learn all about amp sims specifically, keep reading.

Amps Vs. Amp Sims

An amp simulator (amp sim for short) is a plugin that imitates the sound of a guitar amp.

Run your guitar through one of these plugins and you’ll have hundreds of iconic guitar tones at your fingertips. As you can imagine, a good amp sim can save you tons of time and money.

Who likes saving time and money? Show of hands?

Before we look at today’s top amp sims, you should figure out if amp sims are right for you in the first place.

If you’re already familiar with them, I’m sure you’ve heard a hundred different opinions on amps vs. sims.

“They sound like crap. They’ll never sound real.”

vs…

“I need software because I can’t make noise at home and now guitar amp simulators sound as good as the real thing.”

There are plenty of different opinions out there, but what do the pros really think about amp sims?

To help you figure out what’s right for you, I set out to get REAL data about this ongoing battle. By interviewing 447 different musicians, I’ve honed in on what the pros have to say about amps vs. sims.

Check it out…

 


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So… Who Wins?

The debate generally goes something like this…

“Could simulators ever sound like real amplifiers?”

But that completely misses the point.

There will never be a definitive answer as to which is ‘best’.

After all, they are just tools. They both have their uses, depending on the situation.

BUT…

Regardless of the answer to this question, there is one important truth…

Using software is the better choice in a home studio.

Why? Four reasons.

1) You don’t have to worry about room acoustics.

2) You don’t need a microphone.

3) You don’t have to worry about noise.

4) If time is a constraint, you have a wide range of tones available in a matter of SECONDS.

For me, that’s the biggie.

It takes a good guitarist years to build a versatile collection of amplifiers and find their tone.

Add to that the range of microphones you would need, and the time spent learning how to record guitar to a studio level…

And it becomes clear which is the more efficient option.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to just one approach.

You can have amplifier software, and real amplifiers. Each have their use.

However, if time and cost are important to you, I recommend getting started with amp sims as soon as possible.

Countless guitarists swear by simulation, like Tyler from Music is Win:

Are you ready to get started with simulators?

I have compiled a list of the best free and paid guitar amp simulators available in 2019. Keep reading…

 

The Best Amp Sims of 2019

I can help you filter through the list to find the amp sim that works best for you.

Check it out:

What price range are you looking for?


Want to see the most popular amp sims in our survey?


Amp Designer (Free with Logic Pro X)

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While not technically free for all DAW users, users of Logic Pro X should feel proud to have this plugin in their arsenal.

In our survey, we asked what plugin people preferred to use.

Amp Designer was mentioned almost as much as AmpliTube, which costs $149

Learn more about Amp Designer and Logic Pro here: Apple Logic Pro X

BIAS Amp (Free Version) – We Recommend!

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We’ll cover this in more detail later, but here’s the short…

This is the plugin I recommend to most people. And they have a free version.

It’s a no-brainer.

AmpliTube 4 (Free Version)

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If you’re just figuring out what kind of guitar tones you like, this is a great place to start!

The free version of Amplitube comes with 24 pieces of gear at no cost.

Plenty to play around with and figure out what sounds good.

Ignite Amps (Free, Fully Featured)

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The guitar scientists at Ignite Amps have built a few free sims that sound terrific.

Anyone writing heavier music should definitely check out The Emissary.

It’s easy for really distorted guitars to sound flat, but The Emissary breathes plenty of life into recordings.

LePou Plugins (Free, Fully Featured)

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Beloved by fans of indie developers, this collection of free guitar amp simulators packs a punch.

Kuassa Matchlock ($49)

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Budget
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The folks at Kuassa have some great sims under their belt. But their newest one, Matchlock, is absolutely stunning.

Matchlock is imitates early Fender amps making it perfect for blues lovers looking for a full bodied tone with plenty of bite.

Kazrog Thermionik Suite ($50)

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The amps in this collection may not have the fanciest user interfaces, but the tones are killer.

Whether you’re looking for piercing distortion or lush clean tones, Thermionik makes it all sound nice and full.

BIAS Amp 2 & FX 2 (Starts at $99) – We Recommend!

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My personal favorite!

Despite being highly affordable, this plugin is an absolute joy to use – and it sounds great.

I initially opted for BIAS FX, which includes a ton of stomp boxes as well as a range of amplifiers and cabs.

But if you want the full range of models, grab BIAS Amp 2.

This was mentioned A LOT in the survey, and I have seen this software praised on a range of forums.

All in all, a great first purchase.

Softube Vintage Amp Room Bundle ($119)

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This one’s for the retro tone lovers.

The Vintage Amp Room Bundle is based on vintage Marshall, Fender, and Vox amps.

Those who love the classic tones of 60’s and 70’s rock hits will want to check out the Vintage Amp Room Bundle.

Scuffham S-Gear ($129)

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A lot of people swear by Scuffham’s S-Gear. It was even in the top 4 of my survey, and for good reason!

The S-Gear is chock full of incredible sounds.

With crystal clear clean sounds and crunchy distorted ones, there’s a good chance S-Gear has the amp sound you’re looking for!

Waves PRS SuperModels ($129)

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I love Waves, but I wasn’t too impressed with their last amp sim bundle.

So I was thrilled when they announced the PRS SuperModels, and I’m happy to say they sound great!

Don’t let the fact that there are only 3 amps fool you, you can get a ton of different tones for all sorts of genres out of them.

AmpliTube 4 ($149.99) – We Recommend!

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Arguably the most widely-used plugin of the bunch, IK Multimedia were pioneers in this area.

AmpliTube 4 is a staple in many studios around the world, and has been used by notable artists like Malcolm Young of AC/DC fame.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5 ($199)

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I’ll be honest, I’m not personally blown away by the sounds I’ve gotten with Guitar Rig.

But with 17 amp options, 27 cabinets, and tons of effects to choose from, it certainly offers a lot of variety. Plenty of people love it, so while it’s not for me you  may find that you love it!

Overloud THU Full ($300)

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This plugin boasts the worlds largest collection of amps, with 203 models and over 1000 presets.

I like the tones in TH-U a bit more than in Guitar Rig, but I have to say the sheer quantity of options can be a bit overwhelming.

But if you’re looking for an amp sim with plenty of options, this TH-U might be right for you!

Line 6 Helix Native ($399)

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Line 6 is known for making incredible modeling amps and with Helix Native they bring those same tones into the software realm. This is a really powerful amp sim.

But I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who’s new to amp sims. If you’re new to these plugins you’re better off starting with a free or budget version.

If you’ve already got plenty of practice with amp sims and want to take your tones to the next level, Helix Native can do some incredible stuff!

Does your choice of amp sim really matter?

So, now you know what software is available.

But this is just one small part of the process. You can find the perfect simulator for you and still end up with mixes that sound like bedroom demos if you’re missing this one crucial aspect (it took me 10 years to learn this).

There is SO MUCH that goes into a good mix. It’s actually pretty overwhelming.

Once you’ve found a good amp sim, there’s a lot of other stuff you need to get right if you want your music to sound professional.

But what if I told you that you don’t have to be an expert (with years of experience) to make radio-ready music at home?

Well…

That’s the truth.

It’s likely that you’ve already wasted time, money and effort on the wrong things. I know I did. I wasted years focusing on the wrong things.

So, what should you focus on if you want fast results?

Inside this new on-demand training, I share the secret to making radio-ready music at home.

After I stumbled upon this new approach, I knew exactly where to spend my time and energy. I was no longer confused and overwhelmed by the recording and mixing process.

Honestly, I was annoyed I didn’t learn this stuff sooner. It would have saved me at least 7 years.

This new approach hasn’t just worked for me either…

One of my students – his name is Patrick – was pretty new to home recording when he came to me for help. I shared this idea with him and he went from his first ever home recording to high-quality, professional mixes in just 2 and a half months.

This same approach has worked for hundreds of other musicians too.

Now it’s your turn.

If you want to learn the *exact* steps that will take your mixes to a professional standard in under a year…

Watch the on-demand training now:

It’s only playing for a limited time – we’re always updating the site and this could get removed soon. So go and check it out now.

P.S. Sadly, two of the rock icons mentioned in this article passed away in recent years (Malcolm Young and Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister). They will be forever missed.

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40 comments on this article

  • Avatar

    I think you should update this page to reflect the passing of both Lemmy and Malcolm.

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    It is unfortunate that there is no mention of Two notes Wall of Sound. even though it is not a full amp simulation, it does have the power amp simulation (so works wonders with any pedalboard straight into a computer) and then the most complete speaker simulation out there IMHO,. Otherwise great article.

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      I have to agree with you on the WOL Cab emulation. I’ve used it on the free Emissary amp, and Peavey revalver 3 and 4 and got much better-sounding tones with it. I think it just made it easier and faster to find the sounds that you are looking for. I thought the Emissary Cab sims sounded bad, well at least they didn’t jive with what I was looking for.

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    I want to make love to your design dude

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    What about the Boss Tone Studio? Its amazing and has Roland technology behind it

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    Admiring the time and effort you put into your site and in depth
    information you provide. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Great read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  • Avatar

    I know this site provides quality depending content and additional stuff, is there any other web page which provides these things
    in quality?

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    Hi, great article. I’m a noob when it comes to silent practicing. I have always practiced through guitar>pedalboard>amp.

    If I wanted to still be able to practice/record with my guitar and pedalboard, what else would I need to have to be able to get similar sounds that I get from my amp (el34 based amp, similar to a Vox ac 15)

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    I’m currently using Deplike Guitar Effects app on my android phone(iOS available too) with
    Behringer UCG102 and their amps and effects pedals are just like real ones.
    Also it’s the one and the only app that support USB audio interface on Android.

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    Dear Guys,

    I play on the guitar for some years, but I have never owned the real guitar head/combo. I Play with simulators, only. I tried almost everything, but at this moment is out there something special…Waves – PRS Heads. Overall, for every situation, you must use a very good input preamp for your soundcard for the warm sounding of your guitar. Before I used REVALVER from Peavey, great simulations for sure, but there is one small leak…if you play chuggy and some milliseconds after palm muting, there is pretty digital/unnatural response from ampsim (maybe you know what I meant). And PRS heads from Waves sounds really heavy (like real 5 gain stages, compare with TH3, PRS has more gain and for more has clarity at the same time), clean is the best I EVER HEARD…..cleans are so dynamic. You must have a good IR, in a plugin you have but those are not so good. yeah, 2018 is the best, the borders of modeling are along so far. At this year you really don’t need to buy the real head, in my opinion…rock on…

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    Hi,

    I think it’s time to consider adding Blue Cat’s Free Amp/Destructor/Axiom and Line 6 Helix Native to the lists and by the way it’s ScuffHAM not ScuffMAN.

    Cheers
    Frantiac

  • Avatar

    Dear Manager,

    This is Emma from GrandTechnology-a China manufacturer focus on OEM.
    We offer guitar amp, pedal, electric guitar, etc, all has been manufactured according to CE standard.

    After checking your weblink, I think our products could meet your request of expand product line.

    In Europe market, we are working with many distributors.

    Please visit our website to check details: http://grandtechnology.en.made-in-china.com/

    Kind regards,
    Emma

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    I have used Bias FX/Pro. If you tweak, you can find pretty good sound with it! I have also tested Overloud Th3 and found out some very authentic sounds in the collection.

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    Khaos Hellatron says:
    October 11, 2017 at 05:46:47 pm

    Hi Guys, I hope this helps. For Tracking, I use SimulAnalog’s…No Latency. My Amps are Thermionik, Kuassa and the Free ones from Nick Crow, LePou & Ignite Amps. For IR, I use Catharsis, Recabinet’s & Messiah. I admit, I don’t know if they (Amps & Cabs) all sound like the Real Thing but what really matters to me is how well they sound in my mixes and how intuitive and easy it is to get the sound I’m going for (That’s why I’m not much a fan of those Amps, though sound great, have too much controls). I use the Hohner RP250 with DiMarzio Pickups straight to a Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6. I use Airwindows’ Guitar Conditioner as my Tone Pedal. My DAW is REAPER. For me they work the way I want them to.

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    I have both and S-Gear, in my opinion is far better.

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    I’m using a Line 6 POD XT Live hardware unit for most of my guitar sounds. I like the hands on thing of hardware for guitars, and this thing sounds great with a few different amps & FX. The other thing that works well is feeding it into the FX return of my tube amp and mic’ing it up.
    As you say, it’s all about how it sounds in the mix, not soloed.

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    hi rob ,I have played loud with my band and buddies , I got a big red marshall , and a boss gt 10 , the rhythm guitarist has a marshall head with a different cab , sounds fantastic cranked up to 8 or 9 , perfect for blending with a heavy rock drummer and lung launching vocal screamer, 600 watt pa system .however its late at night , I live in a flat and I want to record or create some music. geez ,don the headphones and ampsim it is , I love amplitube for the more melodic and crunchie sounds , gtr from waves is good for heavier sounds ,but my boss gt10 is just fun ,and it can be connected with a usb, no need for audio device ,its got one built in . like you said ,they are all tools and have a specific purpose to fit our every needs , one size fits all cant work in a diverse world of music ,individual preferences demand as many different tools as our imagination can figure out a place to use them.p s reason 9.5 softube amps (lovely for clean guitar)and guitar sims in Cubase ,all have a place . utilize what you got and write some awesome tunes is what I say .

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    wouldnt it be prudent to throw a spectrum analyzer and/or an oscilloscope after the plugin and from the mic amps to “see” more about what each source is providing?
    altho the ears are ALWAYS the best source of this sort of info

    in any case thanks for all you do…and keep on truckin ;-)

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    What about Peavey Revalver?
    Great plugin!

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    I would be really interested in a follow-up comparison video to see if people can tell the difference between a sim and a tube amp similar to what the sims are trying to model. Not to be critical, but I don’t really think it’s fair to make the statement or implication that “most can’t tell the difference between a real amp and an amp sim” if we’re trying to differentiate between a sim and a digital, solid-state “budget” amp. I understand if you can’t find vintage amps to compare, but you could put a Vox AC30 sim up against a Bad Cat Cub or a Matchless DC-30, a Princeton Reverb sim against a Vintage Sound 15, or a Marshall sim against a Tone King Royalist. In my personal experience, the difference is much more noticeable.

    I’m not against amp sims. I own two Eleven Racks and I’ve used Ampire in Studio One. I use them often for rhythm electric guitar as well as bass and steel guitar. But for lead guitar, neither the Vox or Matchless sims come close to the sound of my Bad Cat.

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    I use a pod hd500x into my blackstar venue. Sims sound good but tubes add a saturation and compression that is tasty. And the blackstar has an emulated out so no mic needed and translates well. I’ve found the clean tone is awesome but the crunch and heavy aren’t as tight so I use the emulation from the pod. Best of both worlds.

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    Chainsaw Curtis says:
    August 9, 2017 at 01:52:05 pm

    I’ve only tried one amp simulator (in Digital Performer) and I have been unable to get a tone that I liked out of it. I can plug my Tele into almost any amp and get a sound I like within a few minutes. Even faster if I put my Boss ME 50 in between the two like I do onstage. Granted I don’t record in a bedroom there is nothing like having a real amp at a reasonable volume aimed at you so you can feel what it does to the instrument.

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    That Tweed Deluxe emulation in the video, sounds terrible. I’ve owned two Deluxes and they sound so much better than that. That sim sounds like it has flat batteries! The head following sounds better.

    The only amp simulation that I’ve tried that got close, was the old Line 6 Amp Farm for Pro Tools TDM. It still wasn’t as good as the real thing, but it was much closer.

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    Once again, a reminder to see how much LOGIC RULES !! ?Great content, thanks Rob.

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    I’ve been at this a really long time and finally we have software that not only sounds good, it sounds great! My preference is Positive Grids Bias FX and Bias Amp. I’ve even built a live rig running on my iPad and totally thrilled!

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    While I am a user of S-Gear and on occasion Logics offering blended with Two Notes Torpedo Wall of Sound. I use the BluGuitar One with the BlueBox Speaker Emulator from Thomas Blug far more often. For me this is the ultimate in recording at friendly volumes. If you have not checked it out Rob, it really is worth a look. The range of tones available quickly and easily are vast and it sounds great. Okay it’s not exactly cheap, but when you consider it works as well live allowing exactly the same tones as you use in the studio? It’s not so bad.

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    Rob mentioned using a DI box instead of just plugging straight into the interface. Can anyone recommend a decent, affordable one? I find that even with vintage style, passive pickups and my interface gain set as low as it can go, I still need to roll down on my guitar volume to give enough headroom. Will a DI box solve this issue?

    One other frustration I’ve had with Amp Sims is that, although they sound good enough in the mix, when starting out a new track, I don’t find them particularly inspiring to play through. For this reason I’ll play something through my amp and tweak things until I get the tone I want when I “write” a guitar part. But then when I try to recreate that same tone in Ampire I often find it thin or nasally by comparison.

    • Avatar

      I was interested with the DI as well. I have a good DI and did a sound test through S-Gear. Recorded different tones with and without the DI. To be honest I couldn’t tell alot of difference. I would find someone who has a DI and try it before you spend cash.

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        I have a Radial DI, and it hadn’t made a single difference as opposed to going straight into the front end of my old Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. The 2i2 is apparently very flexible in that regard. However, if you’re audio interface isn’t working without one, the Radial is a good one.

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    Jonathan Wolverton says:
    August 7, 2017 at 05:09:48 pm

    Ampire XT is an amp sim that comes with Studio One and I think it’s better than S-Gear by a longshot. The included cab emulations are terrible but you can also drag in your own impulses which combined with any of the amps sound amazing.

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    I use Ampire which is what comes with Studio One. Any Studio One users who could let me know if any of these ones are significantly better?

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    I’m curious though, what was the real amp in the comparison video??

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    I use a Two Notes Torpedo Studio and I love it. Its a great alternative to amp sims and allows me to use my heads and get my sound. You cannot tell its not a mic’d cab in the mix. Great tool!