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Best IK Multimedia Plugins for Guitars

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Once you’ve found a DAW you feel comfortable working with, you may want to enhance your rig with a few good guitar-centric plugins to give you more tonal flexibility or creative options; to add some flair to your tracks; or to create a more polished final product. 

Modeling plugins allow you to experiment and make use of a wide variety of tones. In the case of artist signature collections, they also offer intimate access to the gear used by iconic guitarists.

While there are many good guitar plugins on the market, this article will focus on those made by IK Multimedia, who has been a leader in amp and fx modeling technology since its first AmpliTube title back in 2002. IK’s plugins offer versions in a variety of price points that accommodate all budgets and needs – including some for free!

Many IK plugins are available for Mac and PC, but for iPhone, iPad, and some for Android as well, so you can work however – and wherever – you’d like. For added flexibility, most also give the option of using them as a standalone application and as a plugin for your favorite DAW. For this article, we’ll focus on Mac/PC versions. 

What To Look For When Choosing a Guitar Plugin

There are a few things to consider when choosing which plugin to add to your DAW. Keep reading to keep an eye out for these attributes. 

Pricing

All IK plugins within the same family begin with the same core and vary in price as more elements are added such as models, sounds, processors or effects, for additional variety and uses. When compared to their hardware counterparts, especially vintage gear, plugins offer access to a wider variety of gear and effects, and some hard-to-find or vintage gear, at a fraction of the cost. 

Compatibility – System Requirements

Each IK plugin is compatible with both MacOS and Windows operating systems. While certain plugin titles contain many GB of data, most guitar-centric apps only require a minimum of space and offer CPU-friendly settings for solid performance on a range of machines. 

DAW Compatibility

All IK Multimedia plugins are compatible with most DAWs, from GarageBand to Ableton Live up through ProTools, and more. They support Audio Units*, VST 2, VST 3, AAX formats (except for ARC System 3).

Frequency of Use

Some plugins, such as an artist signature collection, will inspire a particular type of sound, whereas a more general amp and FX modeling plugin will provide inspiration for dozens upon dozens of different projects. And of course, mixing and mastering plugins are useful for every project.

Skill Level

Since IK Multimedia apps are designed to mirror a real guitar chain, they have a more forgiving learning curve.  Pedals & amps work just like the real thing, with drag & drop placement, while more experienced users can dive into mic placement and types, various room tones, parallel routing and other advanced recording techniques.

Most series offer a selection of “free” through “MAX” versions, so you can expand your tonal resources as needed. 

7 Best IK Multimedia Plugins for Guitars

That said, here are our top choices for adding a new dimension of creativity to your next hit, from start to finish.

1. AmpliTube Custom Shop

AmpliTube Custom Shop

This plugin offers a free point of entry into the AmpliTube guitar and bass tone studio series. It comes with a digital chromatic tuner, 9 stomps, 4 amps, 5 cabs, 3 mics and 2 rack effects, with the ability to demo additional gear before purchase. Start laying down tracks immediately with the built-in 2-track recorder or use it within your favorite DAW.

  • Who’s it for? Beginner recording guitarists of all genres who want to explore the world of processing and recording great guitar tone and building a virtual gear collection. Comes with a “try before you buy” option for adding on new pieces of gear.
  • Price: $FREE!

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
CPU64 bit64 bit
Memory 2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)
Operating SystemOS X 10.7 or laterWindows® 7, 8 or 10

www.ikmultimedia.com/products/amplitubecs

2. AmpliTube 4, AmpliTube 4 Deluxe, AmpliTube 4 MAX

AmpliTube 4, AmpliTube 4 Deluxe, AmpliTube 4 MAX

The AmpliTube 4 series recreates the entire guitar/bass signal chain in a realistic and intuitive way, with a selection of up to 300 current and classic amps, cabs and FX. Use the intuitive GUI to customize your tone further with a unique “Cab Room” feature that lets you select different cabinets, match them to a specific amp, choose the mic selection and placement, and mix levels in a virtual room of your choosing. Choose a version with the selection of gear that best suits your needs, with room to grow as your needs change.

  • Who’s it for?  beginner through advance players and producers of all genres
  • Price: $149.99 – $249.99

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
CPU64 bit64 bit
Memory 2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)
Operating SystemOS X 10.7 or laterWindows® 7, 8 or 10

3. AmpliTube Joe Satriani

AmpliTube Joe Satriani

AmpliTube Joe Satriani is the latest in the AmpliTube artist signature series that also includes heavy metal icon Slash, Queen guitarist Brian May, and other legendary guitarists. It was created in partnership with Joe himself and offers up-close access to his personal gear. The models run inside IK’s free AmpliTube Custom Shop and can be purchased as a bundle (or a la carte for the iPhone or iPad version).   

  • Who’s it for? for shredders and virtuosos of all levels who want to capture Satriani’s distinctive sound on their own tracks
  • Price: $99.99 pre-order pricing
  • Used By: Joe Satriani

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
CPU64 bit64 bit
Memory 2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)
Operating SystemOS X 10.7 or laterWindows® 7, 8 or 10

4. AmpliTube Brian May

AmpliTube Brian May

Guitarists can now experience the same sound and feel as the gear rock icon Brian May used in the studio and live onstage. Available in a convenient desktop app and DAW plugin, AmpliTube Brian May carefully replicates his rig (2 amps, 3 cabinets, and 5 stompbox effects), including a new pedal modeling his Red Special guitar, May’s triple-amp setup, his unique “Deacy” amp, and more. The models run inside IK’s free AmpliTube Custom Shop and can be purchased as a bundle. 

  • Who’s it for? beginner through advanced rock players looking to bring Brian May’s tone to their music
  • Price: $99.99
  • Produced By: / Used By: Produced under the supervision of Brian May

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
CPU64 bit64 bit
Memory 2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested)
Operating SystemOS X 10.7 or laterWindows® 7, 8 or 10

5. T-RackS 5 series

T-RackS 5 series

One often-overlooked aspect of great guitar recordings is how the original tone has been processed to fit with the rest of the track during the mixing process, and while it’s not technically a guitar plugin, IK’s T-RackS modular mixing and mastering system will help you put a final polish on your guitar tone and improve your overall recordings with a range of popular mixing and mastering processors. Each version – from the free Custom Shot through T-RackS MAX –   offers a bundle of high-quality processors, a fully re-sizable GUI, a metering section, and can perform as both a standalone app and a DAW plugin.

  • Who’s it for? Beginner through advanced recording musicians and producers of all genres
  • Price: $Free up to $499.99

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
CPU64 bit64 bit
Memory 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested)4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested)
Operating SystemmacOS 10.9 or laterWindows® 7, 8 or 10

www.ikmultimedia.com/products/tr5

6. T-RackS Sunset Sound Studio Reverb

T-RackS Sunset Sound Studio Reverb

Enhance your guitar tracks with the distinctive sounds of the rooms in the iconic Sunset Sound Studio in Los Angeles. IK’s proprietary technology captured the famed facility’s rooms in a package that includes 2 plates and 1 spring reverb; a choice of each studio’s live room, iso booth and echo chamber; plus additional fine tuning controls.

For added flexibility, it works as both a single plugin as well as inside IK’s T-RackS 5 mixing and mastering suite.

  • Who’s it for? All recording musicians and producers looking to add a classic reverb sound to their tracks
  • Price: $149.99
  • Produced By: IK Multimedia in partnership with Sunset Sound Studio

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
CPU64 bit64 bit
Memory 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested)4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested)
Operating SystemmacOS 10.9 or laterWindows® 7, 8 or 10

7. ARC System 3

ARC System 3

IK’s room correction system lets you mix your guitar tracks faster, easier and more accurately in any room. It combines an ultra-accurate measurement mic with analysis software and a correction plugin that detects and accounts for acoustic issues in the room that cause undesirable changes to the way you hear your music as you mix.

This newest generation offers an easy step-by-step calibration process using a 3D room analysis; a more efficient GUI; and the ability to use 3rd party measurement mics.

  • Who’s it for? Anyone mixing tracks of any genre in a room lacking significant acoustic treatments.
  • Price: $99.99 (software only); $149.99 (software and measurement mic)

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
CPU64 bit64 bit
Memory 4 GB4 GB
Operating SystemOS® 10.10 or newerWindows® 7 (64 bit) or newer

Plug in your axe; “plugin” the possibilities

By adding plugins to your recording process, you’ll have a whole new world possibilities at your fingertips, whether you’re trying to nail that tone in your head, looking to freshen up or add polish to your tracks, or simply see where your imagination takes you. Factor in the user-friendly user interfaces and your biggest problem will be having to tear yourself away once in a while.