Free Bass Amp Simulators are extremely difficult to come by. There are a few, but the most are poor.
So, to spare you some time, and because I’ve already done some digging on the subject, I’ll share the ones I discovered that I believe are worth trying.
One of the plugins will contain a cabinet simulator from the same creators (Ignite Amps), which will greatly improve the sound you can obtain, especially for the plugins that only operate as a preamp.
GK Amplification 2 LE is the Light version of GK Amplification 2 Pro and is an amp/speaker simulator plug-in. Free Pro Tools Plugin and standalone versions are both available on PC and Mac. It is a simulation of the Gallien-Krueger amplifier and speaker. Even being an amp sim, GK Amplification 2 LE still contains all of the actual amp’s features and settings.
The free version only contains the Gallien Krueger MB150 amp/cab combo and the Audix D6 microphone, which is the primary difference between the paid and free versions. The premium version, on the other hand, provides a plethora of options to choose from. Even so, if you take the time to experiment with the settings, the free one offers a lot of tonal flexibility.
The virtual microphone’s location and angle, as well as its distance from the virtual cabinet, can all be controlled and manipulated. A limiter circuit avoids clipping on the output, as well as EQ and gain boost settings.
For each show, there’s no need to carry big stacks around. Alternatively, you could use your laptop which has GK Amplification 2 LE loaded on it. Just about any MIDI controller could effectively control the software. Most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, especially if the cabinet simulator were disabled and your laptop ran through a real one via the output of your audio interface of choice.
In summary, This free version is an excellent tool for improving your bass recordings as a plug-in module within your chosen DAW, as well as for playing live or recording your basslines, due its standalone application. If you like the free version, consider supporting Audified and getting the Pro version. You won’t regret it!
Download: KVR Audio
The SHB-1 is a bass tube amplifier digital simulation. It was created to closely resemble its real-world counterpart, which was manufactured by Ignite Amps in 2012 for Subhuman bassist Federico Fulceri. With the right cab, the SHB-1 can cover anything from thick and round blues to tight and concentrated funky sounds to full-on distorted, face-melting, gritty tones for modern day metal.
Every component in the genuine analog circuit’s signal path has been taken into account and modeled to the best of their abilities to mimic the original sound while keeping CPU performance and real-time playability in mind.
The SHB-1 has the following features:
- Analog modeling of dynamic 12AX7 / ECC83 coupled triode stages.
- Support for mono and stereo processing.
- Oversampling rate can be selected (up to 8x).
- Controls for the global input and output levels.
- Floating point mathematical model with double precision (64-bit).
- Controls which are fully automated.
- Zero Latency
If you don’t have an actual cabinet, you could also use NadIR by the same developers of this great plugin, which, astoundingly, is also free. It’s a dual Impulse Response (IR) convolver with zero latency that’s meant to be used for bass (pre)amplifiers and guitar. This works as a cabinet simulator.
It was created to achieve impeccable quality convolution in real time while being gentle on the CPU and simple to use, with powerful built-in filters and delay settings to enable guitarists and bassists to modify their tone without needing to be experienced audio engineers.
NadIR is designed to be used as a cabinet simulator for live playing and jamming, along with tracking and mixing in hosts which support VST or AU Plug-Ins.
Here are some of NadIR’s features:
- Zero Latency
- CPU usage is minimal.
- There are three different routing settings: mono, dual mono, and stereo.
- Quality control for maximum IR length is selectable (up to 0.185 seconds).
- For IRs with various sampling rates, automatic high-quality resampling is available.
- Analog shaped filters of exceptional quality.
- For phase interactions between loaded IRs, you can choose a delay.
- Between loaded IRs, there is constant morphing control.
- Controls for the global input level and a single IR level.
- Controls are fully automated.
Combining both the SHB-1 and NadIR should give you a fantastic bass head and cab emulation, with so much tonal variety, perfect for recording and live situations alike.
Download: Ignite Amps (SHB-1)
Download: Ignite Amps (NadIR)
Bass Deluxe by LostIn70s
LostIn70s is back with a bass amp after releasing ToneDeluxe 2 and Modern Deluxe for guitarists. Two identical channels with compression, drive, and 9-band graphic equalizers are available in Bass Deluxe. A pedalboard with six bass effects is also included in the plug-in. You’ll also get four bass cabinet types (1×15, 8×10, 4×10), as well as a looper and some drum beats built-in to practice to, if need-be. That’s not shabby for a freebie!
These are its key features:
- Two identical channels, each with adjustable compression and drive levels and 9-band equalizers for simple sound customization
- A pedalboard with 6 high-performance pedals, including a Tone Drive for bass.
- 44100Hz, 48000Hz, 88200Hz, 96000Hz, 176400Hz, and 192000Hz are all compatible.
- A beatbox with many genres and a practice looper.
- For deeper bass, a new sound design was created from the ground up!
- The presence can be adjusted to hear fingers sliding across the strings.
- 4 bass cabinet types (1×15, 8×10, 4×10) that faithfully recreate the sound of the most renowned bass cabinets.
The benefit of having two identical channels that you can simply switch between with the push of a button ,is that this allows you to dial in two totally different tones using the same identical knob and fader configurations, and then swap between them as needed. This would be perfect for a live setting where you need two very different bass tones, but no pedals available to take to the gig.
It has a compressor with a quick and slow release button, as well as a knob to adjust the degree of compression. A boost switch, a “Drive” knob, an EQ, a volume knob, and a presence control are also included.
BOD by TSE
TSE Audio has published TSE BOD 3, an upgraded version of its free BOSS ODB-3 (or most likely the Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI, as stated in the comments) bass overdrive pedal emulation for PC and Mac in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
In the realm of VST plugins, bass guitar effects are a bit of a rarity, especially when it comes to freeware. Many virtual guitar amps and pedals are up for grabs, for free, but bassists have considerably fewer options. The TSE BOD bass overdrive pedal, on the other hand, is a fantastic plugin with great tone with a straightforward UI that makes dialing in the sound you want a breeze.
The user interface, while being completely black, is fairly accessible since the knobs have vivid yellow indicators and are large enough to be used with a mouse. The blend parameter is quite handy if you only want a small portion of the sound, and the two EQ bands are great, but should be used with caution because they color the sound a little too much in some cases.
More choices are revealed by clicking the config cog, including an ON/OFF stereo input selection, an input channel selector, and the oversampling section, which includes manual and automated settings for upsampling the audio signal to eliminate aliasing.
TSE BOD 3 provides a realistic sounding overdrive effect in the DAW, adding warmth and grit to a bass sound and giving it the edge it requires without a lot of tinkering. Overall, it’s a really smooth tone, far superior than what you’d expect from a freeware bass guitar pedal. The CPU use is also minimal, which is great to hear because virtual amps and cab simulations can put the DAW under a great deal of stress from time to time.
BOD is, of course, ideal for a deep distorted bass guitar. That is what you should be using it for. Is your synth bass line, on the other hand, weak and uninteresting? Load in one instance of BOD, ramp up the drive to, say, 2 o’clock, and adjust the other parameters as desired, and you’ve got yourself a dark, ruthless bass with plenty of personality. Even a basic sawtooth or square waveform alters the sound significantly; in addition to distortion, the high frequencies are filtered in a pleasurable manner.
Alternatively, send some old 808 samples, your voice, or even some mellotron string samples into BOD. its distinct sonic characteristics are constantly there, which may or may not be what you want. It might not be usable in jazz or beautiful pop tracks, but if you’re looking for a savage, dirty tone, BOD is the way to go.
In this version of TSE BOD, certain algorithms have been modified to enhance the simulation of the original bass pedal even further, producing an even more realistic sound. This freeware from TSE Audio is highly worth downloading and adding to your mixing tool library. This is especially true if you frequently mix bass guitars. It’s a VST, AAX, and Audio Unit plugin that works on both PC and Mac.
Download: TSE Audio
Amp simulator bundles have always been delivered in the same way: a large collection of amps, cabs, and effects. The downside is that if all you want are a few high-gain sounds and a handful of stompboxes, the bundle may not be as good a deal.
With its new Custom Shop system, IK Multimedia has attempted to remedy this issue. The complete edition of AmpliTube 3 is available for purchase, but there is also a very generous free bundle that includes 24 gear types.
The ’57 Champ and ’65 Princeton Reverb emulations have further increased Fender’s presence. These are high-quality devices that have the Fender stamp of approval, much like the models included in the AmpliTube Fender bundle.
The Custom Shop also features three T-Rex stompboxes, proving that it’s not just about amps. The Mudhoney and Replica Delay pedals, in particular, are noteworthy, with the latter capable of both silky overdrives and chunky distortions
AmpliTube has the advantage of being a stand-alone application that does not require the usage of other DAW software. However, it’s also available as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin, with only 64-bit support.
Download: IK Multimedia
BIG by AcmeBarGig
BIG (Bass Integrated Gain) is a bass amp and effects suite with a lot of options.
BIG includes a Noise Gate, the Granite Compressor from AcmeBarGig, and a preset manager with an online interface for sharing presets. BIG also includes AcmeBarGig’s unique cabinet shaper technology, which can emulate almost any cabinet.
The “Gut” technology is found in BIG. Gut technology lets you access the amp’s internal workings and alter its principal functionality. Crossovers and filters can be tweaked to drastically alter the amp’s performance.
The following is a list of some of the software’s features:
- All features can be turned off.
- Individually bypassable dual 12AX7 preamp tubes provide an unlimited range of bass tones.
- Tonestack EQ may be tweaked for fine-tuning your tone.
- For imitating your favorite amps, there are two tweakable crossovers and two filters.
- Whisper is a clean amp with a strong EQ section that can produce a broad range of tones.
- AcmeBarGig’s ideal dynamics solution is the Phoenix Compressor.
- Noise Gate, so that even at maximum level, your music is not drowned out by background noise.
- Cabinet Shaper is used to get the ideal cabinet tone. For usage with external cabinet IRs, the IRs can be bypassed.
- Preset Manager includes web upload and download capabilities from the AcmeBarGig website.
BIG is available for Windows PC as a freeware VST effect plug-in.
Download: KVR Audio
VeeBassAmp BS Edition by Viper ITB
VeeBassAmp BS Edition is a bass amp simulator based on Billy Sheehan’s setup.
It is not intended to imitate the Master’s sound, but rather to apply the ideas he utilizes. Assume your bass guitar’s pickups are separated. One produces just high frequencies (when connected to a distortion pedal) while the other produces only low frequencies (when connected to a subwoofer). Both signal chains are linked separately and then merged at the output. You won’t ever lose a single dB of low end no matter how badly you distort the top. You may also simply transition from cutting lead tones to strong bass backbone by blending a high/distorted signal with bottom end.
While this doesn’t sound exactly like Billy Sheehan, it does offer more flexibility than other bass amp simulators.
Note that, because it’s an older plugin (as the UI makes apparent), it’s only available in VST format for Windows 32-bit.
Bass Grinder Free by Audio Assault
There’s no need to fiddle with the settings; insert Bass Grinder onto your bass guitar track and get instant mix-ready tones that seamlessly cut through your mix and deliver that strong aggressive bottom end you’ve been yearning for. Bass Grinder Free keeps things simple by allowing you to use any of its two amplifiers and three cabinets.
The interface looks like an amp, with gain, eq (with a “depth” control), and a “crush” knob that acts as a one-knob limiter; it also has input and output levels, high pass and low pass knobs, noise gate, and an amp section.
Ultimately, I was quite pleased by this new version of Bassgrinder, which took the original plugin and added additional models, the limiter, and other features, and is certainly usable in your projects, as it sounds extremely aggressive, very realistic, and simplifies bass mixing.
Although bass may be recorded without the use of VSTs, I would recommend doing so since it will give the music more authenticity. It’s not as evident as recording an electric guitar dry, but it’ll make a difference nonetheless.
Thanks for reading! This post has provided you with a list of the finest free bass amp simulators (as well as a cabinet IR) for all of your recording and tone tweaking demands. Hopefully, you can find the rumble you’re looking for with one of these.