How to Record A Guitar With Audacity


In this step-by-step you will learn:

How to Record Your Guitar Through your computer with a cost of less than $5

How to plug your guitar into your computer,

How to get the best sound,

Record it using free software.

Things You'll Need

  • A Guitar
  • A Computer
  • A regular guitar cable
  • a 1/4in to 1/8in adapter(less than$5)
  • Or a standalone mic (about $5)
  • Audacity (a free program)
  • Assuming you already have a guitar, guitar cable and a computer. The first thing you will want to do is get a 1/4 to 1/8in adapter like the one shown on the left side of the picture. If you do not have an input on your guitar you will want to get a mic like the one shown on the right side of the picture. Both I found at Radio Shack for about $5 each.

  • Most computers will have inputs somewhere on the front that will look similar to the ones in the picture. The inputs we will be dealing with are the "line in" (far left) and the "mic" (middle) input. If you have an active source you will want to plug your cable(with adapter in place) into the "line in", if you have a passive source you will want to plug you cable into the "mic" input. For more information on this please see "TIPS".
    Of course if you have no input on your guitar you will be using the mic to record it.

  • Now that you are all plugged up we want to test and make sure you are set up correctly. You will want to open up sound recorder press the record button and start playing. If your set up correctly then you will be able to play back your short recording. (Problems with the sound distorting? See "TIPS")

  • If you hear nothing or the sound is very faint you will want to go into "volume control" and make sure you have the proper inputs selected and that "mic boost" is turned on. Please refer to the image if you have questions on this.

  • Now that you have everything working you will want to record a full song!
    A free program that can handle multiple tracks is called "Audacity" you can check it out here

    It is a good starter program. It does have some limitations but is great to get your feet wet. Go ahead and install it, start the program and click record!
    Look for my eHow on setting up Audacity and applying basic effects and editing techniques below.

    Have fun and get recording!

Tips & Warnings

  • Figuring out if your source is active or passive is simple. If it has a power source it is active if it does not than it is passive and you will want to use the "mic" input. So if you have a guitar that takes a battery than it is active. If not (like an electric guitar) it is passive. If you are plugging into an amp then from the amp to the computer it is always active and you will want to use the "line in" input.
  • If you are getting a distorted sound when recording try turning down your volume on your guitar to a very low level. this should take care of most of the distorting. Remember you can always increase the volume through the software.
  • Play all your notes clearly and evenly. What you can play makes no difference. It is all about how you play it.
  • This is not at all intended to give you the sound of a professional recording but you may be surprised at the sound you get. Remember the key to a good recording is good playing. Play all your notes clearly and evenly. What you can play makes no difference. It is all about how you play it.

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