Guitarists looking to ditch their hardware amplifier and explore the myriad options available for amp simulation and guitar effects processing offered by modern software will likely need to get your hands on a DAW.
Many of them come pre-loaded with kickass preset tones – Logic, Ableton, Reason and Cubase included. Logic’s Amp Designer plugin is a particularly powerful option, offering up to 20 amp simulations and seven different virtual microphone options to boot.
The possibilities abound, as most modern DAWs will come equipped with at least a few tools and capabilities aimed at those looking to amp, process, and record their guitar. Read on for our rundown of the six best DAWs for guitarists available today.
1. Logic Pro
Apple’s reasonably priced DAW behemoth packs a veritable assortment of virtual amps, cabs, and stompboxes, all easily accessible via its well-organized and user-friendly drag-and-drop user interface. The ability to quickly conjure up a decent-sounding rhythm section via the included drummer can also prove a boon for aspiring guitarists.
A fresh way to conjure up exciting new chains and amp setups, Bitwig Studio’s unique suite of plugins and effects presets can lead to all kinds of original-sounding results. Although the DAW doesn’t really support compilation, the DAW’s touchscreen potential allows for faster interaction, especially when you have a six-string ax around your neck.
A mainstay of the electronic production world, the inclusion of Softube’s amp also makes Reason an attractive route for guitarists too, with a simple series of presets nudging you in the right tonal direction (editable later). The included effects that make up a large part of Reason’s extensive roster can be remarkably effective as guitar tone shifters.
4.Presonus Studio One
Preloaded with Ampire – a suite of “state space” modeled amp/cab and stompbox simulations – Studio One 5 Pro delivers world-class tones straight from the box, with all amplifier reproductions and of sounds expertly created using Presonus’ bespoke technology. It also features a useful microphone edit page and an extremely colorful selection of chainable footswitches.
5. Steinberg Cubase 11
The ancestor of DAWs is no slouch when it comes to guitar processing either. The included VST Amp Rack makes it easy to shape a virtual signal chain, combined with the range of built-in effects and spectrum of guitar-friendly VST plugins, Cubase is a solid base from which to begin your guitar explorations.
6.Ableton Live 11
The EDM favorite can be used brilliantly as a guitar recording suite and processor, and, like Reason, it features Softube’s excellent amp simulations. Live’s repository of creative sound-design-oriented effects is hugely inviting for those looking to create more enticing tones, while the loop-based recording process forces you to rethink every guitar part.