As the industry’s leading instrument-building tool, KONTAKT is your gateway to the widest collection of sampled instruments available anywhere.
But more than a sampler, this shapeshifting platform has powered two decades of blockbuster film scores and chart-topping hits, plus thousands of incredible instruments. And with hundreds of officially licensed instruments available from NI and other leading manufacturers – alongside thousands more from boutique developers, sound designers, and composers – you’ll never run short of inspiration.
Whether you’re just starting out with KONTAKT, or looking to add some additional flavor to a well-seasoned library of your own, here are 25 free must-have instruments for your sound sculpting collection.
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Synth Plugins and VSTs
1. Wavesynth EP Glow
With three wavetable-based electric pianos and 14 different types of wavetable algorithms, the Wavesynth EP Glow from Karanyi Sounds isn’t messing around. Sensuously sampled on a Sequential Prophet 6 and tastefully transformed into a rollicking Rhodes-like patch, this lushly sentimental instrument is perfectly primed for retro-future fun.
2. SYNTH-1 Mini Collection
The SYNTH-1 Mini Collection from Karanyi Sounds packs an army of archetypal 80s tones carefully cribbed from 6 iconic analog synthesizers. Processed through equally iconic hardware at a price tag that beats the small fortune you’d have to spend hunting these vintage tones in the wild, this collection is the perfect pairing for nostalgic sonic explorers.
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Faithful, fully-functional, and fantastically free, Beaotic’s reproduction of the legendary 80s drum machine the LinnDrum LM-2 is a revelation in sentimental sonic expression: Control the start position of your samples via key velocity; add subtle pitch with the Oscillator Drift; or tweak individual edits in pitch, volume, and panning to sculpt unmistakably 80s sounds.
4. Commodore 64 Sessions Deluxe
The Commodore 64 Sessions Deluxe from Rhythmic Robot Audio features 30 superbly sampled patches from three different iterations of the iconic home computer. With an authentic SID Chip sound and a stylish and authentic UI design, this instrument can crank out everything from chip-tune drum kits to fat bassline synths, making it a must-have VST for crafting vintage 8-bit hits.
5. Wavetable Experiment Mini-Pack
This experimental pack features seven authentically 80s-inspired wavetable synths. Unlike sample-based synths, which read a static waveform, wavetable synths allow stacked frames to morph from one wave shape to another as you play, resulting in harmonically rich asymmetrical sounds with a deeply textural and dynamically morphing quality – perfect for sculpting sci-fi patches, pads, and drones.
Piano Plugins and VSTs
6. Foundations Piano
Designed as a sound canvas for cinematic composers, this inspiringly lush piano from Heavyocity highlights the softer dynamics of a grand piano. These gentle notes form the basis of a textural sound design layer that can be manipulated to produce rain-like droplets or vibraphone-esque oscillations among even more unusual effects. An essential addition to any modern composer’s toolkit.
7. The Felt Seiler
Strezov Sampling’s Seiler was sampled from an upright piano with a layer of felt between the piano hammers and strings, giving it a warm and intimate tone. With a little massaging, the three different synth layers can be mixed and individually reversed to create otherwordly sounds and uncommonly wistful tones.
8. The 88E
Ever wondered what it might sound like if you tuned every single one of a piano’s 88 keys to “E” and played them all at once? Then Impact Soundworks has just the instrument for you. You can even stack up to three voices together, resulting in a truly massive sound that covers wide-ranging timbres from horror stabs to subterranean pads, and more.
9. Preparato Piano
Recorded in a Roman church, Xperimenta Project’s prepared piano samples are a celebration of imperfection. This experimental library boasts diverse tones from foreboding string scrapes to delicate repetitions and everything inbetween. For especially chilling ambiences, try layering convolution reverbs from both real-world and fantastical spaces and enter a rabbit-hole of sound design possibilities.
10. The Lobby Piano
Pianobook’s Lobby Piano is a small grand piano recorded with a variety of techniques to create sculpted layers of creative sound design picks and plucks. With 10 mixable articulations from hammers to mutes, it’s easy to combine the sounds to create your own bespoke timbres – or you can take inspiration from almost 30 presets that showcase the versatility of this uniquely playful instrument.
Percussion Plugins and VSTs
Rhythmic Robot Audio’s Jacky features five combinable transistor rhythms with a warm, slightly gritty tonality. With five grooves to choose from and a simple two knob setup (one for distortion and another for compression) it’s vibey, minimalist, and great for copping those vintage rhythm machine sounds from old Shuggie Otis and Sly and The Family Stone records.
The Taiko is a traditional Japanese instrument whose percussive sound is so powerful that it was historically used to intimidate enemies during battles in feudal Japan. Prisma Sounds’ Taiko brings these 6th century sounds into the 21st century with a 3 band EQ, ADSR filter, and an FX tab loaded with distortion, saturation, compression, and delay – all of which make this an exceptional instrument for driving, cinematic soundscapes.
13. Heritage Percussion
Recorded in painstaking detail with crisp 24-bit fidelity, Heritage Percussion is a free collection of 13 heirloom hand percussion instruments from Impact Soundworks. Create your own custom drum mapping with djembe, rattles, shakers, cowbell, cork drums, and clavs – each with adjustable tone and envelope settings, including open, muted, and rim strike articulations for the djembe.
14. Thunder X3M
Strezov Sampling’s latest entry in their Taiko Thunder series lets you assemble a diverse tonal palette from the twelve programmable percussion zones and tweak them individually or as a whole mapped ensemble using the pitch knob and transient controls. The impressive new engine also features multiple dynamic layers, round robin sample playback, three mic positions, and two custom vintage analog hardware chains – all of which can be seamlessly blended in for thicker and punchier sounds.
15. XoX Drums
Based on samples of iconic vintage drum machines, Autodafe’s XoX Drums features five vertical slots, each with different selectable kits of sounds. Boasting a jaw-dropping collection of kicks, claps, cymbals, cowbells, and toms, this free drum machine boasts an abundance of options for countless colorful combinations.
Guitar Plugins and VSTs
16. 8dio Songwriting Guitar
8dio’s cleverly constructed library was recorded with an ESP LTD Deluxe, an Epiphone Custom, and a Fender TexMex Strat, all plugged into a 1962 Drawmer preamp. It lets you trigger major and minor chord loops in all 12 keys, with four keyswitching strumming rhythms and 12 keyswitching effects. Ostensibly intended as a pre-production tool, its stellar sound and sonic versatility make it a great fit for any project.
17. Impact Soundworks Shreddage 3
Capturing a Fender Stratocaster in four articulations (Sustains, Palm Mutes, Release Noises and Chokes) over three octaves, and with up to three dynamic layers and four round robins, Impact Soundworks’ Shreddage makes writing mix-ready lead and rhythm parts a breeze. Up to 16 effects can be racked up from a library of 30 guitar-orientated modules, and the TACT page facilitates customization of the Sustain and Mute articulation mappings.
18. Pettinhouse Funky Guitar
The free predecessor to Pettinhouse’s Funky Guitar 2, this instrument works 450MB of Fender Stratocaster loops and one-shots into three separate KONTAKT instruments: Funky Guitar, Funky Guitar Strum and Funky Guitar Muted. The scripted interface common to all three instruments offers six different amp models along with EQ, overdrive, mod wheel-controlled wah-wah, and one-knob reverb, delay and phaser effects – everything you need to create vibey rhythm guitar tracks perfectly tailored to fit your mix.
19. KONTAKT’S Band Ensemble
Our own KOMPLETE START package nets you a couple of tasty free guitar libraries alongside a wealth of other sampled instruments, synths and effects. And there’s plenty of sound sculpting available via the Tone and Pickup controls, alongside powerful effects (like one-knob wah-wah, distortion, overdrive and compression modules, master reverb, and three-band graphic EQ), and fret and string noise for heightened realism. An excellent option for quick and easily adaptable guitar parts.
20. Samplephonics Ronroco
Though technically not a guitar (the Ronroco is an Andean mandolin), this inspiring emulation from Samplephonics features a sizable collection of tempo-synced loops in six distinct styles and a comprehensive array of chords at your fingertips for user-configurable MIDI triggering. Its distinct sound and exquisite quality make it a must-have for authentic South American rhythm and solo guitar lines alike.
Creative Effects Plugins and VSTs
21. The Drill Drop
Looking for a legendary lead to pump up your tracks? Look no longer! Boasting high-quality samples nudged to neverending sustain, this ambitious instrument offers up a wide palette of tonal options – with Cutoff, Resonance, ADSR and Filter Envelope controls, and independent volume controls for each layer – all perfectly packaged in a strikingly psychedelic interface.
22. MS20 Drums
If you’re in search of seriously vintage vibes, pianobook has you covered. This creative kit is actually two instruments in one: the first is packed full of the monstrous high-octane distortion that put the Korg MS20 mini on the map, while the second is flush with subdued sonics for lush low-key soundscapes – and both feature cutoff filter, saturation, reverb, and delay to take your effects-laden expeditions further.
23. GR808 KICK
Finally, an 808 that covers your ambient needs. Painstakingly processed through the Little Labs Voice of God Bass Resonance Tool, this avant-garde instrument adds an explosive, saturated quality to each 808 note while simultaneously generating celestial sounds in the lower resonating frequencies.
24. Signal Free
Test drive the world’s most powerful pulse engine! This slimmed down version of Output’s groundbreaking rhythm instrument combines fat analog synths and exceptional effects that are perfect for sculpting assertive arps, powerful plucks, and everything in between.
25. 99 Sound Effects
Experience the motherload of cinematic sound effects – from domineering drones and bellicose braams to action-packed impacts and newfangled noises. This colossal collection comes fully loaded with retro-inspired SFX sourced from vintage analog synthesizers, and it’s top to bottom tailored for trailers, film scores, offbeat excursions, and cutting-edge sound design.
Looking for even more free instruments for KONTAKT? Be sure to check out the Free Stuff section right here on the blog.