If you want to record and save any recordings, whether you’re recording a song or making practice recordings, you’ll need to connect your guitar to a computer. Audio interfaces and digital audio workstations are a popular way to process audio in this day and age. It can be accomplished simply with just a couple of tools.
It’s as easy as clicking a button! If you specifically have a guitar and know how to connect it to a PC or laptop, there are many ways that you can use your new tool. Recording performances with the help of amps, effects, plugins, and more are all possible.
You can connect an electric or acoustic guitar to a PC thanks to software that has been created.
I will teach you:
- There are several options to connect a guitar to a PC
- There are tools on the internet you can use to help accomplish tasks, such as writing content
- How to use your computer
- How to Connect an Electric Guitar to a Computer
- Audio Interface
- Multi-Effects Pedal
- Guitar Amp
- Finding the Right Option for You
- How to Connect an Acoustic Guitar to a Computer
- Acoustic Guitars with Internal Pickups
- Acoustic Guitars Without Inbuilt Pickups
- Using a Computer as a Guitar Amp
- AmpliTube 4 by IK Multimedia
- Guitar Rig 6 by Native Instruments
- BIAS FX by Positive Grid
- Helix Native by Line 6
- How to Control Your Effects and Tones
- Getting Great Tones on Your Computer
- FAQ for Connect Your Guitar to a Computer
- Why would someone want to connect a guitar to a computer?
- What kind of software is needed to connect a guitar to a computer?
- What are the advantages of connecting a guitar to a computer?
- What are the disadvantages of connecting a guitar to a computer?
- What is an audio interface and what do I need to know about it?
- What are the different types of audio interfaces for guitars?
- What are some of the most popular brands of audio interfaces for guitars?
How to Connect an Electric Guitar to a Computer
Connecting an electric guitar to a computer is easy, but you do need a special piece of hardware called an audio interface.
You need to use an audio interface that will safely process your guitar’s signal into something your computer can use. If your computer does not have multi-channel audio output jacks, you should use an amplifier and microphone instead.
You risk damaging your guitar or your computer when you try to plug them into their mic and line-in jacks without an adapter. The input jacks weren’t designed for this kind of use and it might not work properly.
Let’s talk about a few different ways to wire your guitar and computer together.
Linking electric guitars to computers can be done using an audio interface. It’s essentially a plug-in box with audio inputs that converts analog guitar signals into digital streams that can be exported to computer.
Some of the most popular Focusrite Scarlett interfaces are the ones that offer a lot more than just controls. They have a guitar cable connector and allow you to plug your guitar into them so you can start playing. The interface then processes the guitar signal and sends it to your computer via USB.
You can see that the interface above allows you to plug multiple instruments (or microphones) in at once. This is great if you’re planning on recording multiple instruments or mics at the same time.
Most audio interfaces also allow you to connect headphones straight into the interface which allows you to play guitar without large amounts of noise interfering. The guide includes the best options for headphones and other advice.
IK Multimedia has released a new interface interface called the iRig HD 2, which allows you to record and play with ease. It is a great option for those looking to finish their music quickly without breaking the bank.
This is a good option for those who are just starting out and only have one guitar as it provides a simple interface. However, if you need to use more than one instrument or microphone, this may not be the right option.
By connecting to the iRig USB interface, you can connect to a Mac, iPhone or iPad (Android not supported). This is great for when you’re on the go and don’t have access to your computer.
When you’re deciding what audio interface to get, think about the following questions:
- Is there any requirement for being able to record multiple instruments at the same time?
- Does your computer have a built in microphone?
- Would you like to record drums in the future and what are the best microphones for that job?
- Do you want the interface to connect to your smartphone or just your computer?
There are lots of different interfaces out there, so it can be a little confusing. But at the bare minimum, every interface should simply connect your guitar to a computer.
If you’re playing an electric guitar into your PC, you can use an audio interface or a multi-effects pedal.
A lot of multi-effects pedals these days have a USB port to allow you to connect it as a hub and use it with your computer as an audio interface.
Even the simplest multi-effects pedals like this one provide a USB port by which you can connect it to your computer.
The multitracking pedals are another way to use your guitar-based effects and tones on stage, with an easy connection through a USB cable and the control of additional features on the pedal’s interface with your computer. Want to record those tones or jam along with some backing tracks? This is a great option!
You can also bypass any effects or presets you have set up on your multi-effects pedal if you want to record a dry signal. If you already have a multi-effects pedal, check to see whether it has a USB jack. If you have a pedal that you want to use as an audio interface, be sure to check the manual that came with it. Every pedal is different, so use the manual and your ears to find out how your pedal will work.
If you want to connect your guitar to a computer because you don’t have a guitar amp, this option won’t help you. But if you do have an amp, make sure it has a USB jack on the back.
Many modern amps now include a USB port, which allows you to connect your amp to your computer and use it as an auxiliary audio input.
You can see that it includes a USB jack along with all the other common jacks you tend to see on a modern guitar amp. If your guitar amp has a USB port like this one, you can probably use it to connect to a computer.
If you connect your guitar amp to your computer, you can easily jam along and record yourself playing. This is especially convenient if sometimes you don’t have time to set up a mic on your amp. If you record your guitar sound, you can then easily use that recording as a tone to manipulate in MIDI.
Finding the Right Option for You
If you already have an amp or a pedal with a USB jack, all you need is an appropriate cable to connect your guitar to your computer.
If you don’t have a guitar amp or don’t want to buy a multi-effects pedal, an audio interface is a cheap and easy way to connect your guitar to your computer. You don’t need to buy an expensive amp or run heavy software. Now, you can just use your computer as one. This lets you have a professional-quality sound amplifier connected and running out of the box.
For guitarists, audio interfaces tend to be the most flexible option. They can cost under $100 but produce excellent quality recordings.
How to Connect an Acoustic Guitar to a Computer
If you want to connect an acoustic guitar into a computer, there are different options depending on what type of acoustic guitar you have.
Acoustic Guitars with Internal Pickups
If your acoustic guitar has an inbuilt pickup and you can plug a cable into it, you can use any of the options covered above for electric guitars.
If you have an acoustic guitar that is equipped with an internal pickup, it’s typically called ‘electro-acoustic’.
The above guitar has two different jacks. One is branded ‘XLR’ and the other is a standard guitar cable jack. Most electro-acoustic guitars will only have one of these jacks.
If your guitar doesn’t have a spot where you can plug in an external device, try connecting a 9V battery or even your phone.
If your acoustic guitar does have a jack where you can plug in your desired connector, then you’ll have the widest range of options for how you want to connect it to a computer.
You can use:
- an audio interface
- a multi-effects pedal (if it has USB out)
- an acoustic guitar amp (if it has USB out)
- a microphone with an audio interface
The best option for an electro-acoustic guitar is to get an audio interface that offers multiple inputs like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
With this audio interface you can plug your guitar in to the first input and then plug a microphone into the second as well. You don’t need 2 separate audio interfaces because they both have their own outputs.
This means you can capture your two different sounding acoustic guitar signals at the same time and mix them with ease. This isn’t only a great way to record an acoustic guitar, but it saves you time as well. You can decide what sounds better for your song and go with it.
You can position the microphone anywhere you want to record different tones not possible with the internal mic. I highly suggest using two different recording methods on your guitar sound.
Acoustic Guitars Without Inbuilt Pickups
If you don’t have an acoustic guitar with built-in pickup, you’ll need to use a USB microphone.
An audio interface with a microphone input is perfect for artists who have multiple microphones. I recommend one that offers at least two inputs so you can record your guitar in multiple different positions.
For live performances, using an audio interface can be better than plugging a microphone straight into your computer’s mic input. However, I would recommend buying a self-powered microphone to plug directly into your computer’s mic input so that you don’t have to worry about batteries dying while on stage.
I like the iRig Mic Studio . It’s a microphone with a USB output which can connect to all major devices – PC, Mac, Android and iOS. This makes it perfect for acoustic guitarists who want to record ideas at home or while on the road.
When connected to a computer, it acts as a typical audio interface. You can plug headphones directly into the microphone and it works in any DAW program.
The iRig Mic Studio is my go-to option whenever I want to record any acoustic guitar part, vocals or anything else for YouTube videos. It provides instant connection with so many devices. It’s a super convenient benefit to have.
Using a Computer as a Guitar Amp
Once you choose a method to connect your guitar to your computer, you can look at how to use your computer as a guitar amp.
To use your computer as a guitar amp, you need to use software that models different types of guitars. Programs such as AmpliTube, Guitar Rig, BIAS FX, or Line 6’s Helix Native are all compatible with the type of guitar you want to hear.
One idea is that these tools are like digital guitars because all your craziest ideas, notes and riffs are out of the way. The idea is great and it is for good reason that more people now use them.
When picking out which program you want to use, the most popular options are listed below. You can decide which one is right for you:
AmpliTube 4 by IK Multimedia
Amplitube 4 is their current version of a very popular amp and effects simulation suite. It can be run as a standalone program or as a plugin inside a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
This screen looks like a typical guitar amp. On the left, you can change the amp model and see what different effects it has. Or you can switch from an amplifier to a tube amp on the right, depending on your preference.
Amplitube 4 is great for setting up different effects pedals and you can use it to create your own individual amp settings.
The range of effects and controls make adjusting the pedal as easy as with a real one. Just make your adjustments, select from different effects, and test them out!
You can also simulate other types of equipment and audio settings. You can do this by creating different virtual rooms or even mic setups.
Note: If you see iRig HD 2, it’s worth mentioning that the full version of AmpliTube 4 is included in the price. If you were planning on getting that audio interface, this would be a good companion piece for you.
Verdict: AmpliTube 4 is a really powerful software that I use all the time. The range of options it gives you to control your amp, effects, cabinet, microphone placement, etc. is fantastic.
Guitar Rig 6 by Native Instruments
Guitar Rig is a popular software that can always be close competition with amp- it. You’ll hear other guitarists discuss them online, as many still use it today.
Guitar Rig 6 was finally released in late 2020 after many years of waiting. If you’re interested in experimenting with a wide range of effects and tones, Guitar Rig 6 is one of the best choices.
One of the best features in Guitar Rig 6 is the ability to record, shape and process sound effects and guitar tones from scratch.
Verdict: Guitar Rig 6 is a guitar amp tone plug-in that delivers impressive sound quality and is a useful tool for advanced guitarist.
BIAS FX by Positive Grid
The first BIAS FX set blew people away with how great it sounded and the difference it made in how your tone sounded. Now, you too can rock a unique sound just like them.
BIAS FX 2 is now available and as you might expect, it surpasses the original BIAS FX in terms of quality.
BIAS FX 2 is easy to use as it focuses on displaying effects and amps with life-like images. If you know popular guitar pedals, you’ll recognize which pedal is represented by the green ‘screamer’ pedal or which is represented by the round red fuzz pedal.
Using BIAS FX 2 is an excellent choice for those looking for a high-quality substitute to a real guitar amp.
BIAS FX 2 can run as a standalone program, or as a plugin for your DAW. You can use it to process your guitar amp, or you can record any parts you want to with BIAS FX 2.
Verdict: This app is highly recommended. Its tones are easy to use in an excellent design.
Helix Native by Line 6
Helix Native is an amazing plugin that makes it so much easier to create your own 3D based pedals.
Helix is a great platform for your DAW that includes amp models, effects models, IRs and more. These plugins can save you time and effort by automating things that require a lot of work.
The screenshot above is of Line 6’s new layout which differs from other programs in this guide. It matches the appearance of their custom metal floorboard where you could plug in and control your guitar or amp.
It takes awhile to get used to but there are easy-to get-used-to and the product is worth it.
The downside of Helix Native is that it can only be used as a plugin inside a DAW. As such, you would need to use your computer as the guitar amp separately first and then use Helix Native with your chosen DAW.
Verdict: Not an ideal product for this kind of your needs. The lack of a standalone version makes this unnecessarily limited and requires you to use a DAW. BIAS FX 2 is a bit cheaper than Helix Native, but the extra cost might be well worth it for some guitarists.
How to Control Your Effects and Tones
Virtually every guitarist who has a guitar amp and effects will tell you that you can change between channels or use effects by switching off of your main amp.
If you want to control your guitar effects and tones when you run your rig through a desktop PC, be sure to use MIDI foot controllers. They provide the same control as going through your computer’s ports, while also providing an easier to navigate interface than most guitar pedals.
It’s a MIDI foot controller that plugs right into your computer. You can use it to control software like Ableton Live or FL studio and perform incredibly life-like performances with its expressive possibilities.
These are some examples of what your foot controller can control:
- Change amp tones or presets
- Toggle individual effects on and off
- To use an expression pedal for effects, you’ll need to plug it into the appropriate output. The input might also require additional amp configurations
- Change settings on your effects pedal so you can create unique sounds
- Set the footswitch to ‘record’, ‘playback’ or ‘loop’
- Trigger samples or any other plugins
The ability to change your guitar sound on the fly with your feet is crazy. This makes it so much easier to be some rockstar or augment any other performer with a rig that sounds like yours.
Getting Great Tones on Your Computer
You should try out these software options if you want to achieve the best guitar tones! If you know how to dial in the right settings, you’re able to produce professional-quality recordings from home with minimal equipment.
If you want to use your computer as an amp, you should focus on getting the best tone when setting your device’s controls.
Recording your guitar tracks with a computer is super easy now, for all the musicians out there! There is a bit of cost involved with the audio interface, but there are some quality products that offer great value for a fair price. You can save on costs by using a DAW for recording that is free and allows you to create high quality stuff.
FAQ for Connect Your Guitar to a Computer
Why would someone want to connect a guitar to a computer?
The idea of connecting guitars to computers is not new. People have been trying to do this since the late 70s and early 80s, but it’s only recently that technology has caught up with the idea. Now, you can use your guitar as a controller for your computer or as an instrument in a virtual reality game.
There are a few reasons why someone might want to connect a guitar to their computer. The most common reason is that you want to learn how to play guitar online. There are also some people who use the computer as an instrument, like recording and playing music with it.
What kind of software is needed to connect a guitar to a computer?
The software that you need to connect your guitar to your computer is called an interface. It can be hardware or software based, and it will be compatible with your specific model of guitar.
A lot of people who are interested in playing the guitar use interfaces because they make it easier for them to learn songs, chords, and practice their skills.
What are the advantages of connecting a guitar to a computer?
There are many advantages of connecting a guitar to a computer. Some of them are listed below:
- You can record and save your music without having to use the computer.
- You can use your guitar to play different instruments by using software like GarageBand or Guitar Pro.
- You can edit and improve your guitar playing skills by using software like Amplitube or AmpliTube Live.
- You can share your songs with friends, family, and fans on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- It is easier to learn how to play guitar when you have access to an online course or a tutorial video from YouTube
What are the disadvantages of connecting a guitar to a computer?
There are some disadvantages of connecting a guitar to a computer. For example, the sound quality might be compromised and the volume can be too low.
Some people also have problems with lag when playing guitar on a computer. However, these issues can be fixed with software updates or hardware upgrades.
What is an audio interface and what do I need to know about it?
An audio interface is a device that connects to a computer and allows the user to record sound. The most common type of audio interface used in the music industry is the microphone or condenser microphone. These types of microphones are often used by musicians, podcasters, and voice actors.
What are the different types of audio interfaces for guitars?
There are a few different types of audio interfaces for guitars, but the most common is the USB interface. This is because it is compatible with all devices and operating systems.
The other types are MIDI interfaces and wireless guitar interfaces. These are more expensive than USB interfaces but they provide a lot of flexibility and convenience to musicians.
What are some of the most popular brands of audio interfaces for guitars?
There are many brands of audio interfaces for guitars but the most popular ones are the ones that have been around for a long time.
The most popular brands of audio interfaces for guitars include:
- Line 6 Spider IV
- Roland Cube
- Alesis QS6
- Behringer Ultra-Nova GXD4
- Yamaha THR10