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Guitar - recording with Garageband

Updated on February 10, 2010

Guitar recording

Hi Guitarists. I don't want to state the obvious, but recording technology has come on a long way recently, and one or two useful developments may have just passed you by. If you have an electric guitar, or an acoustic with an internal pick-up system, and a Mac such as the iMac you can record acceptable quality tracks in no time at all - in fact it's only a little harder than breathing!

Why would you want to record guitar tracks? here are some good reasons -

  • It's one of the most efficient ways to practice
  • You will improve your sense of time and rhythm
  • You can demo your songwriting efforts
  • Create soundtracks for video
  • It is so much fun


  1. Buy an interface lead from the Apple store, jack to mini-jack
  2. Plug the mini jack in the socket (2nd socket, next to the headphones mini-jack) and the jack socket in your guitar.
  3. Launch GarageBand (It's that guitar icon!) Create new project.
  4. Click on the guitar panel, and turn your guitar up full, to get a decent signal.
  5. Hit record (red button)and play something
  6. Hit rewind and be amazed.


Just go to New Track on the top bar, and now you can play along with what you just recorded. When you're happy, just hit record on the new track bar.

Repeat this process as often as you like.

Now look at the bottom left hand corner of the screen. The all-seeing eye symbol takes you to the prerecorded backing tracks and loops - you may have to download these from the net, at least the enhanced set. I usually start with reset, and drums, then percussion, by which time it will sound like the mighty Santana on a good night.

You click on a drum pattern to audition it, then click and drag to a new track bar. Finally, you can extend or loop the pattern by gingerly lining up the end of the region until a bent arrow sign appears - then drag the pattern across the timeline for as long as you want it.

Finally, you can burn the song to i-tunes and create a CD.

How much has this cost? - about £10 for the cable. Not a lot for a fully equipped recording studio!

Keyboard and piano players can also use Garageband, by using a MIDI to USB converter cable. See my other hub Piano/keyboard -use your computer for some info on this.

Changing your sound

When you have a guitar connected Garageband comes up with a list of options. You can change amp models and effects settings with the right hand part of the screen.This can be used to add distortion or delay, for example. When you create a project you can also change the tempo, and create repeated sections.


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    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Russ -further to that,you might be better off with a Boss Microtrack recorder - much simpler than using a PC.

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Russ - I'm not an expert on this- the problem is the interface with PCs,you'll probably have to get a USB interface and software like Cakewalk or Logic. Much more complicated, part of the reason I ended up with a Mac.

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi Jon, Any tips for how to do the same on Windows? Recommended software (simple)?

      Regards, Russ