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How to create your own software instrument in Garageband

Updated on October 13, 2015


Okay, maybe you are fed up with the limited bank of sounds that Garageband supplies with its software.  Or, maybe you just don't like the quality of the sounds.  If you have your own instrument, and you have recorded your own sounds into Garageband, you can turn them into a brand new software instrument.  For instance, if you have recorded a real guitar playing an A note - G note, you can assign those notes to the respective A-G keys on a midi controller, or your computer keyboard, and now you can play your guitar through a keyboard.  Nifty, isn't it?

Using Software Instruments

How to do it

The first thing you need to do to create a software instrument is make sure that all of the sound recordings of the instrument you want to create are on your computer. Keep them stored in a safe file that will not be deleted or lost.

Next, open a new Garageband project. When the project opens, it should have a software instrument already loaded into the project. Usually, it is the Grand Piano, by default. Now, change that instrument into one of the categories that closely resembles the software instrument you are going to create. For example, if you are going to create a new guitar instrument, change the Piano to a Guitar.

Now, this is the fun part. At the top of the screen, select "Window" and then select "Musical Typing." A window should pop up that allows you to assign certain keys on your computer keyboard to corresponding notes on a musical midi keyboard. Now, just drag and drop your sounds from the Finder at the bottom of the screen to the corresponding key on the musical typing keyboard. Continue to do this until you have assigned every key a sound as needed.

Now all you have to do is save your instrument. Click the button that looks like an "i" which is the track information button, and select "save instrument" When the window pops up to name the instrument, give it a unique clever name, and hit save. You now have an instrument programmed into Garageband that can be applied to Musical Typing, or a midi keyboard. That was easy, wasn't it?


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for the tip(s). All is working fine except that I would like to figure out how to delete certain sounds from the musical keyboard.


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thanks for getting back to me.

      Im using Garageband 2. I know it's old but I've been hesitant to update because a lot of the plugins I've downloaded and use all the time don't work on newer versions.

      Im also using a power book G4 from 2005.

      it's what I got.

      is it possible to download a newer version and still keep and use the old one? are you using Garageband 3? thanks guys!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      In Garageband '11 , seemsliek you can only put them into the Sound Effects area. Such as the Radio sounds, or Comedy Noises, But you may still Rename and make a new Intrument there. Hope this helps Fess.

    • howtoguru profile imageAUTHOR

      Tyler Norwood 

      6 years ago from Texas

      What version of Garageband are you using? You might have a newer version than I do and the process might be different.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      just tried this. it doesn't work. you drag the sounds to the musical typing keyboard and the ghosted image of your sound file zips right back to the finder window you dragged it from. am I doing something wrong?


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