Recording guitar music onto your computer requires a recording program and digital recording interface, which "replaces" your computer's sound card for better results. Most computer sound cards are not able to reproduce the proper frequencies for musical instrument recording and are not able to "boost" the guitar signal for adequate volume. There are many musical instrument interfaces on the market, which are connected by either USB or FireWire, and they have some form of signal boosting circuit, called a "preamp." The guitar may be plugged directly into the interface, or a microphone can be connected to record the sound from an amplifier or acoustic guitar.
Things You'll Need
- Computer recording program
- USB or FireWire recording interface with cable
- Guitar cable
Install the computer recording program according to the manufacturer's instructions. Programs of varying levels of price and complexity are available at music retailers.
Unless you are recording an entire band or plan to open a recording studio, start with one of the many inexpensive interfaces and recording programs to get the feel of computer recording before making a large investment that may not be necessary.
Plug the recording interface into the computer's USB or FireWire port with the supplied cable, and install according to the manufacturer's instructions. Some inexpensive interfaces are "plug and play" and only require plugging in.
Boot up the recording program and follow the user's guide to choose the interface as the default sound card when using the program.
Set the program to record and ensure that the "Pause" or "Stop" mode is selected.
Plug the guitar into the interface with a standard guitar cable and play it to check the recording levels as recommended in the program and interface user guide.
Press "Record" after all levels are properly set.
You may use your computer speakers to monitor the recording sound, but headphones connected to the interface (if equipped) or computer are recommended to prevent feedback and provide better sound.
Tips & Warnings
- There are dozens of interfaces and recording programs on the market. While some basic functions and features are standardized, others are proprietary to the unit and program. Always take the time to thoroughly read and understand the user's guide or online tutorial for best results.
- Plugging guitar amplifiers directly into your computer can "fry" sound cards.
- Plugging guitars or microphones directly into the computer can result in high levels of unpleasant distortion and overall bad sound.
- Photo Credit electric guitar image by Blue Moon from Fotolia.com
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