Pianos are a staple instrument in many different genres, and everyone needs a good piano plugin.
But each piano, sampled or modeled, has an individual sound. It can take hours to sift through the web for options for the one you want.
And when you find a good one, it costs a fortune! Plus, for many of us, buying a real piano is not an option and we might only have a MIDI keyboard.
So, we decided to round up a selection of free piano VSTs, plugins & libraries that you can use in your own productions.
Free Piano Plugins
Native Instruments is the staple of many producers’ studios, and they are known for their quality paid piano plugin instruments that perfectly integrate into their sampler – Kontakt.
Yet they’ve also got a free option as well – Hybrid Keys. These are a creative set of keyboard instruments that work with the free version of Kontakt called Kontakt Player.
Hybrid Keys is included with the Komplete Start bundle, which NI currently has available for free on their website. It’s not the ‘full version’, but it’s ‘streamlined’ according to their description.
A personal favourite of mine – the free Soft Piano is a beautifully-sampled intimate piano from the industry staple Spitfire, available as a part of their free LABS instrument.
This piano plugin sounds great for film-inspired, ambient and the more chill side of music. I actually used it on my track ‘The Retreat‘, and it’s been a studio staple since.
You can grab it + many more sampled instruments on the LABS website – you will have to download the free LABS software first.
One of the best free Grand Piano libraries/plugins available courtesy of Ivy Audio.
This library has a great realistic sound (recorded from a Steinway Model B) due to the nice room ambience it was recorded with.
Note that you will need the paid version of Kontakt (not Kontakt Player) to run this, even though the library itself is free.
Alternatively, you can download it as a free soundfont and load it into your favourite soundfont player.
This was my first free piano VST plugin, and I used it solely for a very long time.
It’s sampled from a Yamaha C7 concert grand – one of the most ubiquitous pianos out there. It’s solid, rich and expressive, and loved by many.
It also comes as it’s own VST/AU plugin for Mac and Windows, so no stuffing around with third-party samplers.
Less of a specific piano, but more of an entire library of pianos. Hundreds of them.
This project was started by Christian Hensen of Spitfire Audio (who we already mentioned), and has a lot of free pianos and other instruments sampled by a growing community.
The only downside? There’s no universal format. For many you’ll need a full version of NI Kontakt, for others you’ll need Logic’s EXS24 sampler (which you can convert to Ableton, if you’re a Live user). Check them out and see what you find.
The 4Front piano is a quality, full-bodied upright piano plugin and is great for capturing a live feel in your own productions. This one is also a lot more ‘lively-sounding’ than the other options out there, likely due to the fact that it’s a physically-modeled piano, rather than sampled.
It’s also got it’s own free standalone VST plugin, so no need for any other plugins or downloads. Although it seems to function normally, it’s a bit older, so hopefully it still continues to work on future Windows and Mac operating systems.
(The file size is also tiny, which is another benefit of physical modelling).
Keyzone Classic from Bitsonic Audio is another sample-based piano plugin with 5 different pianos that you can switch between.
As you can see, there are a number of controls for each piano type, and you can even control the ADSR envelope to shape the volume of each note as you would like. There’s even a built-in reverb module.
It’s also available as it’s own VST/Audio Unit plugin, so all you have to do it grab it from there site. The only catch is that you have to buy something else in order to get it for free.
Also note that it’s not currently tested with macOS Catalina.
A blog reader recommended this piano to us, and it does not disappoint. For what seems like a very lacklustre interface, you get a decent sound.
Sure, it’s not going to be something you’d get out of a professional paid sample library, but it might be all you need for a very specific sound.
The plugin is available in both Windows and Mac formats, except the Mac format seems to only be 32 bit.
Modelled off of the infamous Steinway Grand Piano, this great yet tiny piano plugin instrument might be exactly the free plugin you’re looking for.
It’s only got the one sound, but it’s a solid one. Great for layering and for adding a bit more high-end texture to something. Not necessarily what you want if you’re looking for the richest piano, or the best interface, however.
Once again, this one is it’s own plugin, so plug and play.
Recommended: Ableton Live Piano Roll: 19 Tips
Amore is a solid piano option, created by Precision Sound. This one is only available for Kontakt, so make sure you have a copy of that first.
This one is semi-bright while maintaining a realistic and soft sound. Great for emotional film-inspired stuff and ballad-electronic stuff alike.
Also from bigcat Instruments (creator of Iowa Piano), this piano sounds great for a dramatic, soft piano. Great for jazz and soul type music.
You can download this for Kontakt, as a soundfont or as a standalone VST. Feel free to check out the other pianos and instruments they have available too.
Another creative and experimental option from Spitfire – this piano takes things to the next level.
It’s not quite a normal piano when you first load it up. There are multiple different options you can choose from, each with a completely unique style: reverses, glitches, distortions, and much more.
Just try them out – you’ll see what I mean.
Like the Soft Piano, this one is free to use with Spitfire’s LABS software.
Recommended: Free Sample Packs
Some of the free plugin options (not all) listed here are also covered in this great video from Dylan Tallchief, where he demonstrates them side by side with the same MIDI so you can hear the difference.
Apart from that, make sure to download them and test them out yourself. Once you decided on one (or some) that you like, clean your hard drive of the bad ones. Because nobody likes clutter.
Did I miss your favorite free piano plugin/instrument? Email me at [email protected] and I might just include it.