Muso on Lockdown: Free plug-ins & tools for creativity in quarantine
Blog by Jane Parker under Artist Managers, Recording & Production
Hello! I am a muso and I'm on lockdown.
If you’re a bedroom musician/producer/songwriter/creative type, then not leaving the house, eating pot noodles and having an uncertain future is nothing new to you...
So stay in your pyjamas/underpants/last week’s clothes and grab your laptop. Existential fear? You positively thrive on it! So, with that in mind, let's finish that album you started 3 years ago. There’s no excuse now.
Bagging yourself some new freeware/plug-ins can ignite a much needed spark of inspiration. There are so many out there and this is just a reminder of what you can get. Some you've probably heard of, but there is always more freeware to discover.
You've got time on your hands, so why not watch Kenny from Ontario in his bedroom check out free Guitar Rig 5 plug-ins on YouTube. You might learn something (or not).
Just a word of warning: always be aware of the sites you are about to download from. Some sites may be iffy, so keep an eye out. It's best to go for the source sites if possible.
Also watch some videos of the plug-ins first to see if they're what you're after. You may have to create a free account for some and get bombarded with emails, but often you can get free stuff added later and good info and blogs thrown in.
KOMPLETE START FROM NATIVE INSTRUMENTS - This taster package includes Guitar Rig 5, some of which are demos, but you can always bounce down sections you like on audio tracks.
LABS SPITFIRE AUDIO - Library sound collection from Spitfire Audio
BLUE CAT AUDIO FREEWARE - The full Blue Cat Audio freeware package.
MELDA PRODUCTIONS MFREE FX BUNDLE
EARECKON FREE PLUG-INS - Equaliser, Gate, Compressor and Limiter
T-RACKS 5 CUSTOM SHOP - Free starter plug-ins with optional add-ons.
GUITAR RIG FROM NATIVE INSTRUMENTS - Included in the Komplete Start bundle above, or you can just download Guitar Rig on its own.
IK MULTIMEDIA AMPLITUBE CUSTOM SHOP (AMPLITUBE 3 FREE) - Guitar modelling amps and pedals.
BLUE CAT AUDIO AMP SIMULATORS
MERCURIALL (PEDALS, PRE-AMPS & CABS)
CYPRESS TT-15 AMP HEAD EMULATOR
AMPLE GUITAR M LITE BY AMPLE SOUND / AMPLE BASS LITE
U-HE SYNTHS - Scroll for the freebies.
ART PYRITE SYNTHS - Scroll down for demos and download.
DEXED SYNTH (YAMAHA DX7)
STEINBERG MODEL E
MEOWSYNTH - Cat face based meow sounds....cabin fever anyone?
PIANO ONE (YAMAHA C7) BY SOUND MAGIC
DSK THE GRAND
STEVEN SLATE SSD 5.5 - Scroll down for free version
MT POWER DRUM KIT 2
DUBTURBO DRUM TROOP
ALAN VISTA ROYOTOMS
AMPLE CLOUDRUM - Melodic steel tongue drum sounds
MINISPILLAGE BY AUDIOSPILLAGE
SOFTUBE SATURATION KNOB
VINTAGE TUBE SATURATOR BY WAVE ARTS
KLANGHELM IVGI - Saturation and distortion
GLITCHMACHINES HYSTERESIS - Glitch delay plug-in
FROHMAGE - Cheese based filtering...of course
There is also the usual demo versions of plugins and DAWs that you can access for a limited amount of time, such as ABLETON LIVE’s impressively lengthy 90 day trial.
The sites below are also good to subscribe to. A lot of what they offer is paid for, but they will also provide lots of useful information, along with the occasional free plug-in (like Izotope Ozone, which is great for mastering).
Some factory sounds can be a bit pants, but use them as a starter then bosch ‘em through some evil distortion and filters to mash it up...then you've made them your own.
Free guitar plug-ins can be no better than your internal DAW FX, but you can mix ‘n’ match with different FX for lo-fi rough sounds. Or stick them externally through some guitar pedals and back. You're the boss - make it yours.
Or alternatively, use those splendidly slick Pop/RNB/Hip-Hop/EDM studio library sounds and loops included with your DAW and you'll be the toast of TikTok before bedtime.
I'm off for a gin and a pot noodle. Stay in, stay safe and make muzak.
Free plug-ins and tools for musicians