How to connect your guitar to the computer
If you play guitar and you like computers, one of the first things you will want is to connect the guitar to the computer. You probably want the simplicity of playing the guitar, in a way similar to what you can do with video games such as Guitar Hero. This looks extremely simple at the beginning, but you will see that there are some problems that you will want to avoid.
The Guitar Connector
The first thing that you will need is some connecting device. Guitars use sound cables that have a 1/4" plug. Computer sound cards, on the other hand, in general use a 1/8" plug. Thus, you need some kind of converter between your guitar and the computer.
Most computer stores have cables to make the connection between the 1/4" and the 1/8" plugs. You need a female plug for your guitar cable, so that it can be inserted in the connector. The connector needs a 1/8" male exit that will connect to the sound card.
There are other options, however. Some external modules allow you to connect the 1/4" and then to the computer via the USB port. THese are a little more expensive, but result in better sound quality, because the conversion of signal is done digitally.
Here is a List of the Connectors You Need
Using the USB
If you are interested in use the USB connection that comes with every new computer, you can also do this with one of the new USB interfaces in the market. The process involves getting one of the USB guitar-computer interfaces, then connecting your guitar to the USB device, and the device to the USB input.
This method is just a little bit more expensive, but it can give you even better results. I wrote a whole article describing how this USB-guitar connection works.
The next thing you need is some software that will receive the sound. You have a lot of options in this respect, since the market for sound programs is very competitive.
If you want to start with something free, you can try audacity. This software allows you to record and playback sound that has been received through the sound card. Audacity is very simple, and you just need to press the record button to record a sound. Everything is done automatically. There is an option called play through that allows the sound to be heard as it is recorded.
Other more expensive options exist. Cakewalk is a very powerful package that was created for music edition tasks. Similar software exist for similar prices.
If you use a Mac, there are even more options. For example, Garage Band comes for free, and it provides several powerful features to record music. For more instruction, see this article on Using GarageBand to record your guitar.
Here is a recording software that I recommend
The next problem you need to solve is amplification. Even when everything is properly connected you will frequently notice that no sound can be heard. In other cases, the sound is so weak that you cannot use properly.
The reason is that a guitar emits sound that needs to be amplified. The range of signal from a guitar is much weaker than sound from a microphone, for example.
You can use an amplifier before the connection to the computer. You may also decide to use software amplification, which can work just as well. Just remember that you need some amplification to be heard.
Amplification is such an important topic to the guitarrist, that it needs special attention in your setup. Don't let this without careful checking.
Connecting your guitar to a computer is not a complex operation, but it is not very clear for many beginners. People just assume you know how to do. I hope the instructions I posted can help you in getting your equipment working fine.
Playing the guitar is always great fun. If you can do this using a computer, it is even better. Just keep doing it and you will get better as time goes.
If you have questions on this topic, please let me know through the comments section.
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