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Nylon stringed acoustic guitars are used heavily in classical and Latin, even pop and R&B. Its sound is unmistakable. The nylon provides a mellow but articulate tone that adds beauty and emotion to every project.
If you’re looking for a nylon guitar VST plugin, your options are somewhat limited, but there are a few good ones out there. In this guide, we look at the best nylon guitar VST plugins.
SILK by ujam – Best Overall
ujam’s SILK is a virtual guitarist VST plugin capable of playing a variety of styles depending on your needs.
SILK includes 60+ styles, 670 phrases, arpeggios, patterns, chord riffs, multiple mic positions, custom effects, and a custom channel strip to help you achieve the perfect tone.
SILK is simple, elegant, and customizable – just like a classical nylon guitar virtual instrument should be. Take advantage of the onboard controls, including position (neck, bridge), fret noise, doubling, character (rich, full, original, bright, sheen), delay, reverb, attack, mics, animate, and volume to find your ideal sound.
All in all, SILK is probably the best sounding virtual nylon string guitar instrument available. Plus, you don’t need Kontakt to use it!
SILK supports Native Instruments NKS.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Strum GS-2 by Applied Acoustic Systems – Best Premium Option
Applied Acoustic Systems’ Strum GS-2 features both acoustic and electric guitar instruments, chord recognition, chord voicing options, strumming and picking action, a MIDI riff library, amp, effects, and more.
The latest version comes with a new, updated, or revamped guitar library, MIDI loop library, modeling, keyboard mode, loop mode, strumming engine, compressor, EQ, limiter, interface, bank and program manager, and effects.
Included in this collection are over 200 acoustic and electric guitars – steel, nylon, single coil, humbucker, clean, crunchy, and distorted. There are 80 electric clean, 34 electric crunch, 25 electric distortion, 11 electric DI, 63 acoustic, and 40 acoustic experimental presets.
There are also 406 acoustic MIDI loops, and 301 electric MIDI loops.
Finally, Strum GS-2 also includes real-time control over all parameters, MIDI clock, tap, and host tempo syncing for modulation and effects, and unlimited undo / redo.
Honestly, I have no idea how Applied Acoustic Systems managed to make this virtual instrument sound so good. From strumming to leads, Strum GS-2 is full of surprises. While it’s not the most expensive option featured here, it deserves to be our best premium pick.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Scoring Acoustic Guitars by Heavyocity – Best Budget Option
For composers and arrangers, Scoring Acoustic Guitars (part of Heavyocity’s GRAVITY packs line of virtual instruments) is bound to be a delight.
This cinematic guitar Kontakt instrument utilizes both nylon and steel stringed acoustic guitar samples for creating all types of scoring, be it complex ambient pads, tension building rhythmic pedals, or moving and evolving soundscapes.
Altogether, Heavyocity’s Scoring Acoustic Guitars features the sound of nylon and steel string guitars, 2.81 GB of uncompressed content, 1,040 samples, 40 snapshot presets, over 300 motion presets (NKAs), 229 NKIs, motion page (volume, pitch, and pan pattern creation), and playable Trigger FX.
The NKIs include pads, rhythmic harmonies, acoustic guitarscapes, melodic pulses & phrases, performance palettes, and more.
Now, if you’re looking for a standalone nylon string guitar virtual instrument, you should look elsewhere in this guide. But if you’re looking for a killer composer tool, this one will be hard to pass up.
Scoring Acoustic Guitars can’t do what our best overall and best premium selections can do, but it is a little more affordable, and it does sound good, which makes it our best budget pick.
Scoring Acoustic Guitars requires Kontakt Player version 6.4.2 or higher.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Acou6tics by Vir2 Instruments
With the success of their virtual electric guitar library Electri6ity in tow, Vir2 Instruments set out to create the acoustic equivalent, Acou6tics. Taking advantage of the same technology, the developer captured six acoustic instruments – nylon string, steel string, 12-string, ukulele, guitalele, and mandolin.
You’ll also find a dozen plus articulations, including legatos, sustains, releases, mutes, hammer-ons, pull-offs, harmonics, slides, and effects. There’s even a virtual room control with adjustable sympathetic resonance and microphone distance control.
Overall, you get six instruments recorded in Blumlein-Stereo (with stereo mics and piezo DI channel), 4,000 to 8,000 samples per instrument, multiple articulations, advanced strum engine, transition strums, open string strums, picking engine, guitar chord detection (roughly 25,000 chords recognized), string and fretboard positioning, string, noise, vibrato engine, and more.
The best thing about Acou6tics is undeniably the sheer amount of included sounds. You’ve got a ton of instruments with a ton of articulations. The sound quality is what it is. It could certainly be better. The guitars mostly sound like harpsichords. With some effects, though, they wouldn’t sound too bad.
As they say, the guitar is quite possibly one of the hardest instruments to turn into a virtual instrument. So, we can’t dock too many points off Acou6tics.
Acou6tics isn’t cheap, but it is versatile and may be worth a look depending on your needs.
Acou6tics requires Kontakt Player 5.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Acoustic Legends HD by Vir2 Instruments
Vir2 Instruments’ Acoustic Legends HD is a Kontakt instrument featuring breathtaking acoustic guitar samples in 24-bit / 96 kHz stereo. With 19 GB of acoustic guitar content, you’ll find multiple articulations and playing styles to choose from – fingerpicking, picked, natural harmonics, artificial harmonics, chords, harmonic chords, mutes, release layers, and fret noise.
Acoustic Legends HD features multiple acoustic guitar types, including nylon string, steel string, 12-string, acoustic bass, mandolin, banjo, and ukulele. And Vir2 Instruments sampled instruments created by the likes of Martin, Gibson, Taylor, McPherson, and others for this creation.
Also included, of course, are doubled guitars, special effects, and other sounds you can use in a variety of situations (including scoring, naturally!).
In the chord banks, you’ll find 12 chord types in a variety of positions, multiple velocity layers, multiple takes per layer, upstrokes, and downstrokes, for creating awesome rhythm guitar riffs. You’ll even find a capo knob for setting up your virtual guitar with a virtual capo (key switching).
The interface gives you complete control over audio outputs, MIDI channel input, polyphony, solo, mute, tune, pan, volume, EQ, reverb (with level and size), and stereo width.
Acoustic Legends HD also lets you use multiple instruments at the same time. These can be sequenced independently or simultaneously based on the MIDI channels.
Altogether, you get 19 GB of 24-bit / 96 kHz acoustic guitar samples, various articulations, six; and 12-string guitars, 12 chord types, two nylon instruments, seven steel string instruments, two 12-string guitars, and variation patches (delay, phaser, flanger, chorus, compressor, and other unconventional effects).
You’ll also find bonus content (acoustic bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, guitar effects), bonus special effects, EQ controls, reverb module and stereo width, remote control via MIDI CC, multitimbral operation (up to 64 simultaneous instruments), and more.
Whether you’re looking for a standalone nylon string virtual instrument, or you want to blend a variety of guitars together, Acoustic Legends HD is a great tool for sketching, demoing, and more.
The nylon string sounds are quite nice, but the steel string guitars sound more like harpsichord to me. I think, with this plugin, it’s all about the variety of things you can do as opposed to the usability of any one sound. It should work nicely as a composer tool as well.
Acoustic Legends HD requires Kontakt Player.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
What Should I Look For In A Nylon Guitar VST Plugin?
There aren’t endless options when it comes to nylon guitar VST plugins. There also aren’t exceedingly budget friendly options, or for that matter, impressively high-ticket ones. Plugins in this category are basically mid-tier.
The guitar truly is one of the hardest instruments to turn into a virtual instrument. There are just so many nuances to capture, which makes the emulation difficult to perfect.
Nylon guitar VST plugins also tend to be very individual. None of them do exactly what the other does, or sound exactly like each other. If there’s any reason to research each option thoroughly, that would be it.
Consequently, the limited number of plugins may make the selection process a little easier on you, but you’d still want to research and evaluate each option before deciding. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what criteria to evaluate.
So, if you still aren’t sure which plugin might be the right choice for you, here are the main things to consider:
- Sound quality
- Features / versatility
Let’s explore each of these criteria.
Sound quality matters to every producer, songwriter, or composer. To what extent, and in what ways, though, is individual. If you’re not sure what I mean, read on.
All things being equal, it’s nice to start with an organic, authentic sounding instrument. But there are situations where less authentic sounds are highly usable. Whether it’s in electronic or experimental tracks, in sketches and demos, or even for doubling, there is always a time and place for “lesser” sounding virtual instruments.
The good news is – you can find audio clips, video demos, and video reviews for every plugin. That makes it possible for you to listen to every virtual instrument or library before deciding which to buy.
The not so good news is – you’ve still got to be the final decision maker. We can provide you with a ton of information on each plugin, but at the end of the day, you know your needs best. You know what types of projects you’re going to be working on and what they require.
One thing we don’t recommend is buying a plugin blind. Be sure to listen to a nylon guitar VST before purchasing it to ensure maximum satisfaction.
Another thing you can do is closely examine the samples. Rarely will you find samples with artifacts and noise nowadays, but sample quality obviously factors heavily into sound quality. It’s just a matter of how granular you want to go.
Features / Versatility
Since we’re only talking about five plugins, we can easily offer a quick breakdown of each, in terms of features and versatility.
A plugin like SILK has only been designed to do one thing well. That might be one of the reasons it sounds so good, but if you’re looking for more than just fingerpicked nylon string action, you’d need to look elsewhere (unless you want to layer and process the instrument yourself – more power to you!).
Vir2 Instruments plugins (Acou6tics and Acoustic Legends HD) attempt to do many things and come with many tones / sounds. That is their chief strength, and versatility is always appreciated, but these plugins do not feature the most organic sounds. As noted, they sound closer to harpsichords than guitars.
Scoring Acoustic Guitars is a fantastic scoring, cinematic, and composing plugin, but it’s not going to offer many options by way of standalone nylon acoustic guitar glory. It might be a fun tool for adding textural and soundscape layers behind your acoustic guitar melodies, though!
Strum GS-2, so far as I’m concerned, nails it on every level, in terms of overall quality, versatility, and effects. I think it’s the most balanced entry. But it is a little more on the expensive side, so if it’s not within your budget, you may need to consider other options (also see next section).
Don’t let me dissuade you, though, from buying any of these plugins if they feel like the right choice for you. You know your needs better than I ever will (without personal consulting), and you may have amazing effects chains, editing techniques, and recording processes that I know nothing about.
You may even be looking for demoing and sketching tools versus virtual instruments you intend to use on commercial projects.
Either way, it’s worth exploring, in detail, what each plugin offers and how the features compare. Some of the most common features include multiple instrument types, chord recognition, chord voicings, articulations, string noise, mic positions, amps, loops or riffs (libraries), effects, presets, and so on.
Take a moment and think about what you need.
You can find a nylon guitar VST plugin for about $100 to $400 depending on your preferences and available budget. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to find a great nylon VST plugin, but you should expect to spend at least $130 for an authentic sounding one.
While we do encourage dreaming big, spending big is another matter altogether. We never recommend going into debt for a VST plugin purchase, no matter how tempting the offer. Either spend within your budget or save up for the best possible solution.
As limiting as it might seem, your budget is a great filter for your purchases. Our hope is that you’ll enjoy your new purchase as opposed to crying over a credit card bill you can’t pay.
Top Nylon Guitar VST, Final Thoughts
The nylon acoustic guitar is a staple in a variety of genres. Whether it’s for gentle fingerpicking or for blistering leads, nylon guitars can sound amazing in any context and bring your tracks to new heights.
While there aren’t a ton of plugins to choose from, the ones available all have their strengths. If you know what your needs are, choosing one that matches your use case should not prove too difficult.
Enjoy your new nylon guitar VST plugin!