Piano sounds are essential for every composer, sound engineer, and music producer. The piano is a staple in music, and frankly you just never know when your clients might demand it.
That said, if you’re caught without the right tools, you might not be able to create the quality of sounds you or your clients want to hear.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Here you will find the best free piano VST plugins available, with grand piano and electric piano sounds included.
Here are the VSTs you need!
LABS by Spitfire Audio
We are partial to Spitfire Audio and their LABS series, because we think they do amazing work. The free virtual instruments they create are top notch, sampled the “right way” in a studio with quality gear.
Sometimes, they even take unique approaches to the recording process, such as with their Amplified Cello Quartet, which features cellos fed through effects pedals and guitar amps!
But we do have something to get off our chest…
What could be better about LABS is that you must use the Spitfire Audio app to download the VSTs, they each take up quite a bit of hard drive space (one to two GB or more – minor issue, but still worth noting), and they don’t appear to be stable in all working environments (requiring constant fixing or reinstalling).
If they can get this sorted out, Spitfire Audio will have the free VST market just about cornered, and we’d be able to recommend them without reservation.
Nevertheless, what follows are three selections from the LABS series of virtual instruments we think are worth highlighting:
LABS – Soft Piano
LABS – Soft Piano is an essential for composers. It comes with a gorgeous, delightful soft piano instrument that’s perfect for those subdued strolls down the street in the rain, long, panning establishing shots of the city, a couple delighting in each other’s presence in the middle of a field…
It could be highly effective within just about any production requiring a soft piano sound, however, whether it’s a ballad, a rock song with a playful intro, or even a rootsy folk tune for some texture and color.
Overall, a gentle yet powerful workhorse.
Download: Spitfire Audio
LABS – Electric Piano
Where can you find that perfect, dreamy electric piano sound for all those jazzy runs, sexy and sultry R&B tunes, and dramatic ballads that bring the listener to tears?
We would venture to guess LABS – Electric Piano will do the trick in most cases. It’s a bright and clear electric piano with all the warmth and character of a vintage masterpiece. Want to darken it up? No problem – just bust out your favorite EQ plugin.
An excellent addition to every library, no matter the music you’re making.
Download: Spitfire Audio
LABS – Wurli
The Wurlitzer is the very embodiment of everything an electric piano should be. It features the perfect amount of dirt, character, warmth, and punch to satisfy most R&B, funk, groove, and even rock legends (like Ray Charles or Supertramp).
LABS – Wurli is a capable Wurlitzer stand-in. It takes well to effects, and it offers a beautiful, dreamy vibe. Still slightly inauthentic to our ears, we have a feeling the Wurli is a challenging sound to replicate in full, even when expertly engineered. But it’s still great.
This is an excellent sound to layer in with other highly atmospheric sounds to create a vibey, ethereal soundscape for your tracks.
Download: Spitfire Audio
Room Piano by SampleScience
Tired of the inauthentic, highly effected, weirdly configured piano VSTs of the yesteryear? Look, we know what it’s like wading through the legacy VST plugins archives trying to find something that isn’t eccentric or weirdly thought out in some capacity. But let’s be honest – those were different days. VSTs have come a long way since then.
And so, we have SampleScience’s Room Piano. This plugin emulates a “living room piano,” or more accurately an upright acoustic piano. The piano was sampled in two velocities every three semitones in 24-bit stereo. And not only does it do what it’s been advertised to it, it does it with style.
It comes with controls for Amplitude ADSR, multi-LFO, highpass / lowpass filter, reverb, and three voices modes (polyphonic, monophonic, legato).
Undeniably, the user interface is beautifully designed. It kind of evokes an atmosphere all on its own.
It might not be a grand, but it’s a simple, highly-quality, acoustic upright piano VST plugin. Great for singer-songwriter music!
Piano In 162 by Ivy Audio
Important note: Piano In 162 is closer to a sample library than a VST, but since the library was created using a Steinway Model B grand, we couldn’t possibly skip over this one.
If you want to run it in Kontakt, you will need the full version, but fortunately you have the option of downloading the SFZ version to load it into a free sampler – for instance, Plogue Sforzando.
The included sounds are quite breathtaking and are nearly the image of perfection. It is a dynamic, clear, and simple piano sound. It would sit nicely in any mix and would surely fool most ears. On its own, you might be able to tell, but in a busier mix? There’s no way.
A great tool to have at your disposal.
Download: Ivy Audio
Atmos Piano by PrismAudio
Here’s another piano VST we have a rapport with. And as with LABS – Soft Piano, it is well suited to gentler, quieter moments in your various composing efforts.
Add a bit of reverb and delay for extra atmosphere, layer in some strings, maybe even some synth effects if you’re feeling crazy. Why not? You can easily create a soundscape you and your listeners can get lost in.
It’s probably not the ideal choice for rock and harsher genres, but it’s fully capable for ambient music and in any music that’s softer.
The highly rated Atmos Piano is simple, so don’t expect too much. But if you like the included sound, you’re sure to find plenty of uses for it.
Download: KVR Audio Software
Free Piano by RDGAudio
RDGAudio’s Free Piano is not half bad. We can’t make any claims to it being the “best,” but with its built-in controls, you can easily tweak it to create all kinds of sounds to be deployed in various musical contexts.
It comes with three layers of samples and gain controllers for each, staccato and auto sustain, round robin sampling, effects (low pass filter, reverb, tuning), ADSR envelopes, and amp section with level meter.
The coolest part about this piano? Probably the fact that it lets you add string and pad sounds in with your piano. For all those making meditation music, this might not be a bad tool to have at your disposal.
Just be sure to download this in tandem with Free Piano Expansion or apparently you won’t get any sounds from Free Piano.
Free Piano works on Windows and Mac machines.
Download: KVR Audio Software
Keyzone Classic by Bitsonic
Speaking of legacy VST plugins, Keyzone Classic is kind of one of those quirky inventions we talked about earlier. That said, we still find it competent in a lot of ways.
This is a sample-based piano with five sounds – Keyzone piano, Yamaha grand, Steinway grand, electric piano, and Rhodes.
You can tell that the pianos are sampled, but they still offer more than you might expect (they kind of sound like an expensive keyboard that has a built-in piano sound).
The basic electric piano sound is probably the least impressive, but that doesn’t make it unusable at all. If anything, it could be great for video game style compositions and other lo-fi requirements.
The Yamaha grand is rich and warm. It doesn’t seem the best at processing higher notes, but aside from that it’s not bad.
The Keyzone piano is the brightest of the three, and least authentic sounding. But for those times when you need a piano that cuts through the mix, it’ll do the trick.
The Steinway piano also sounds quite good, with the disclaimer that it doesn’t quite have the depth and richness a real grand piano would have.
The Rhodes is more capable than you might initially assume. It doesn’t quite sound like the real thing, but so far as free electric pianos go, it’s surprisingly good.
To top it off, Keyzone Classic is available as a 32- and 64-bit Windows VST, and as a VST and AU for Mac.
See? It’s not half bad for what it is.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
VS Upright 1 by Versilian Studios
If you’re one to comb through the VST archives (as we are), then no doubt you’ve dug up this sublime entry.
VST Upright 1 might be a little older, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t do piano. So far as upright pianos are concerned, in fact, it sounds quite stunning. The one thing it doesn’t seem to handle that well are the highest keys.
The developer created it as a “sketching piano” of sorts, so for practice, generating ideas, and songwriting it’s more than capable.
That said, its sound is clear and bright, with an impressive dynamic range. And it takes well to reverb too. So, we don’t see why you couldn’t use it in your other productions.
VS Upright 1 is available for Windows and Mac.
Download: Versilian Studios
Piano One by Sound Magic
Piano One features a sampled Yamaha C7 concert grand, one of the most used pianos across the stages of the world.
Out of the box, Piano One sounds quite stunning. There is something either missing in the midrange, or maybe it’s a little too much percussive attack and not enough tone, but apart from that, it’s hard to find many flaws with it. Seriously, just hit play on the video below and see for yourself.
The interface features controls for reverb (time, width, mix, surface, smooth, E.R.), Noises (pedal, strings, hammer off), Style, Damping (time, tracking, release), Harmonics (gain, shift), Tone (low, high, lid), Perspective (player, audience), Tuning System, and Key Dynamics. If you love to tweak, you shouldn’t run out of options in a hurry.
To get Piano One, you will need to sign up for Sound Magic’s newsletter, but that’s not a bad tradeoff, right?
Download: Sound Magic
DPiano-E by Dead Duck Software
And so, we’ve come to the part of the guide that you either hate to love or love to hate. We went digging deep into the archives to find the best of the best legacy, archived, and deprecated plugins that still work, still sound good, and can still come in handy. And honestly, some of these are still quite legit.
Starting off with the highly rated DPiano-E, this is an electric piano via Dead Duck Software. The onboard tuning, modulation, sound, and master controls can help you achieve a few different sounds, which are all half decent.
We’re not going to sit here and say it sounds just like an authentic Rhodes or Wurli, because that it does not. It does okay, and the controls are responsive (meaning you can shape various sounds with it), but you can tell out the box that this is not fully realistic or authentic.
What is great about it though is the modulation. This works amazingly well!
You can get DPiano-E on PLUGINS4FREE as a 32- or 64-bit Windows VST.
4Front Piano by yohng.com
Just as the picture would suggest, 4Front Piano is a lightweight, single-timbre acoustic upright piano.
Back in the day, when I went hunting for decent piano VSTs, this was about the only one I could find. And you know what? Even to this day, it’s not half bad. A little robotic sounding maybe, but you can hide it in your mix with effects and layers for sure.
And its sound is clearly more authentic to upright than grand piano. So, you could say they’ve nailed something important there, even if this doesn’t become one of your go-to plugins.
4Front Piano is available for Windows and Mac.
Top Free Piano VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
No doubt, some of the best piano VST plugins cost a bit of money. That said, you can still find some great free piano virtual instruments if you don’t mind doing a bit of digging. And we’ve featured the best of the best above for your pleasure and convenience!
Even if you don’t find yourself using piano in your productions right now, chances are you will at some point, so it’s always best to plan and prepare. Go ahead and download some of your favorites above and give them a whirl. Knowing how to use your tools is half the battle, so get a head start on your piano based productions and let us know how it goes.
Have fun and happy recording!