To set up a basic recording of a guitar, you will make good use of it in situations whether you compose your songs, relish jamming, wish to record a few covers, or review your practice and playing.
In this article, we have covered some basics of recording guitar on PC. By the end of this guide, you will also learn how to select the correct choices for yourself from the most popular gear presently available.
Guitar Recording Setup
You must have seen several images of a recording studio that comprises monitors, racks & gears everywhere. Not just they appear overwhelming but also impressive.
Earlier in the past, visiting an expertise recording studio was just a way to produce high-quality recordings. Currently, the truth is that you can attain similar quality recordings at home with a basic setup.
It is all because of the extreme amelioration in technology & availability of high-quality recording gears at an affordable price.
You even can begin recording very high-quality guitar tracks with just a few additional pieces of gears.
- Audio Interface: It enables you to well connect your guitar easily to your PC.
- Microphone: While with an electric guitar, you can record without a microphone. It is a handy device to have.
- DAW: DAW or Digital Audio Workstation is software used to record numerous sequences & mix your tracks even.
- Plugins: You can use the software within a DAW for doing everything like applying guitar effect, adding virtual synths or drums.
- Monitors/Headphone: One of the central questions is, “Should you get a headset?” You can utilize your primary PC speakers. However, using high-quality studio headphones or monitors will make a crucial difference.
Simple, isn’t it? All you require is a medium to plug your guitar into your personal computer or a simple microphone for acoustic guitar. And software to record well.
The remaining of this article will take you through every component and also the options you should consider. In case you have all the required equipment, go through this guide on how to record guitar on PC.
Recommended Studio Gear For Home Recording
If you know all the gears & software needed for basic recording and looking for some recommendations, do have a look here:
- Microphone: Shure SM57
- Audio interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- DAW Controller: Any controller would do
- DAW: Reaper or PreSonus studio one
- Monitors: Mackie CR3
- Plugins: BIAS FX 2, AmpliTube 5, Addictive Drums 3
- Headphones: Audio Technica ATH M50x
- Monitors: Mackie CR3
Of course, there exist alternatives to the above listed recommended gear; thus, read through the remaining guide to get complete details.
Recording Electric Guitar On PC
The first gear piece you will require is what you will use for connecting your guitar (electric guitar) to your personal computer/PC. In case you may need to record an acoustic guitar, you can skip and proceed to the next section.
The section will discuss options well suited for an electric guitarist. In case you may require to record any vocals, acoustic guitar, or other instruments in the future, do have a look at the next section.
The easiest and simplest medium to connect your guitar to a PC is to use an audio interface. They used to be massively costly units & did not produce high-quality signals.
Today, you can pick up a good quality audio interface with $100 that is considerably better than units worth thousands in past years.
It is worth stating you will even view audio interfaces available at a meager price, like $10. Thus, it is wholly recommended to avoid anything that is extremely cheap.
When the initial iRig came up, various people got highly attracted to inexpensive Chinese copies available on eBay to regret it when they failed to work well.
Just get a high-quality audio interface to ensure the best quality unit.
Setting Up The Audio Interface
Although audio interfaces are essential for recording your guitar on PC, it’s sometimes hard for beginners to set it correctly. So here’s a quick guide on how you can set up your audio interface.
The audio interface helps you plug in the microphones to your computer for better sound quality. Most beginners have trouble figuring out the I/O part of their audio interface. You’ll find these settings in the DAW.
The I/O tells your computer where the microphone is plugged in. Unfortunately, your computer by default does not recognize the microphone’s position, and you specifically need to help it locate it through the I/O.
Once the I/O page pops up, you need to ensure that both the input and output are connected to your audio interface.
Using Interface Drivers
Sometimes your audio interface might not show up on the DAW I/O settings page. In that case, you’ll need to download an interface driver to make it work. These drivers are basically software that acts as a bridge between your computer and your audio interface.
There’s one thing you need to keep in mind when downloading an interface driver. Different audio interfaces have different drivers that are designed to help them connect to your computer. Therefore, you’ll need to find the right interface driver for the connection to be made.
Once you‘ve downloaded the interface driver, you’ll have to restart your computer and then reopen the DAW, and you’ll see that it will recognize your interface.
It is an audio interface that can be used when you look out to connect an electric guitar to PCs. Note that iRig HD 2 is a very tiny device compatible with the PC, iPhone, Mac & iPad.
It can even record at a 96kHz rate with a 24-bit A/D conversion, one of the highest available among consumer devices today.
The primary reason we recommend iRig HD2 over various other devices with the same features because it has a complete version of AmpliTube for the iOS and AmpliTube 4 for free.
It is suitable as later you will notice that having software such as AmpliTube endows much flexibility with recordings. When considering AmpliTube 4 highly costs nearly $150, it is a good deal.
There are several alternatives, but if you concentrate on electric guitar, we recommend getting iRig HD2.
We do not recommend iRig HD2 for electric guitarists wanting to record various other instruments, such as drums, acoustic, piano, guitar, etc., or looking to record guitar amps through the microphone.
iRig permits you to connect your guitar to PC thoroughly, so if you wish to mic up the amp, look for the options listed below.
Alternatives To Audio Interface
While getting a highly dedicated audio interface is recommended, there are numerous alternatives. Various contemporary amps & multi-effect units can get utilized as an audio interface.
For instance, if you have a Line 6 amp or a pedalboard, look at the USB port present. Plug the same into the PC & you are perfect to go with it.
One advantage of utilizing your gears as an audio interface is recording tones & effects that you play directly in DAW.
Thus, if you have any preset multi-effect pedal you wish to use in recording, use it in the audio interface form.
Your choice of microphone plays an important role. When you plan to play an electric guitar & plug your guitar in your audio interface, there will not be any microphone requirement.
In case you plan to record your amp and other instruments, vocals, or acoustic guitar, you will require a microphone. There are various microphones today available in the market.
For beginners, we suggest they get going with Shure SM57. It is a well-renowned microphone a guitarist can use. While for many guitarists, it is a gold standard they use for a recording guitar amp.
However, they work well for various other vocals and instruments. It is an ideal microphone for those who are beginners recording on their own at home.
Digital Audio Workstation or DAW
Recording on PC includes utilizing a kind of software known as DAW. It stands for the Digital Audio Workstation and is ultimately a box studio. Here we discuss Ableton Live, Cubase, Pro Tools, Studio One, and others.
Every DAW has its strengths & weaknesses. Thus, one would probably end up appealing more to you than others.
It is a crucial subject as this is a significant thing you will deal with for making your music. For instance, a writer may have a pretty uninspiring and frustrating experience with Pro Tools.
However, if the same music writer uses Ableton Live, he may find it fun & engaging to use. You may even hear the exact opposite from numerous other musicians as well.
You will find a Pro tool in top-end commercial working studios; thus, all boils down to having a personal preference. We assume checking these out is crucial before you opt for any platform.
Most of the platforms permit free trials, so you may have to play around with such platforms before purchasing your platform choice.
Best Guitar For The Job
We have included numerous less conventional choices for those with bases covered already on the stance of traditional 6 string acoustics. Here are a few of the comfortable playing and excellent sounding acoustics:
- Taylor 114 ce: It undeniably has the best industry-standard acoustic guitars present today at an affordable cost endowing high-quality sound.
- Martin DRS2: In recent years, Martin DRS2 is one of the present generation offerings & the best competitor with Taylor 114ce.
- Epiphone Masterbilt DR 500 MCE: It plays just like Les Pauls. Action is highly phenomenal & is always recommended with acoustics.
Your PC Matters
There are various players out there who would like to hear their playing in the form of recordings but are often daunted about utilizing computers.
We thoroughly understand it. Even while we record music with PC daily, it can be a trying process.
In such a scene, we highly recommend checking the multitrack recorders. Such are the digital versions of old cassette 4 tracks you might have utilized back in the day.
Brands such as Tascam, Boss, and Zoom still make several such devices & they are simple to work with efficiently.
Basis your ambitions, one can opt for something large such as 32 track Tascam, or if you’re only dipping your toe into the water, you can take a very close watch at affordable, small & massively renowned Zoom R8.
Many of such products even double up as an interface, which means you still can utilize them to connect such instruments & mics to the computer if you decide to move on this way.
It makes such devices very safe to buy! Boss Micro BR & Zoom R8 both have inbuilt drum features even. Remember that you will have to consider one microphone’s cost for using it when your mic up your guitar amps.
You can utilize headphones & monitor speakers for listening to your recordings, just like the interface. Such units save up your songs to the SD cards, the kind you would utilize with a camera.
Those looking to put their music online for sharing purposes would still require a computer. However, you can complete the remaining process without switching on to a laptop.
Once you have chosen this path with the right equipment. Listed below are a few beginner’s tips to attain the right music from your guitar:
Double Up Your Rhythm Parts
Whether it is an acoustic guitar or just a massive electric riff, playing an exact similar part on 2 distinct tracks and then panning it left & right will ensure your recording sound in a professional manner.
You have a full stereo spectrum to play with effectively, thus place according to your guitar parts.
Human ears get a bit tired of the elements that get placed at massive left & right, thus saving this space for the sounds, which come & go.
For prominent rhythm guitars, try on panning 50 left & 50 right. It will create an illusion of space while meshing tracks together.
Bass, vocals, kick drum & snare drum conventionally sit in the middle of the spectrum, but rules are made for breaking. Experimentation is a lot of fun & can lead to a few great recordings.
Alternative Ways of Recording on Your PC
Although using an audio interface is one of the most common ways to record your guitar on your PC, that’s not the only option you have. Here are some other options to perfectly record your guitar on your PC.
1. Recording Using a Guitar-USB Interface
In this method, all that you’ll need, apart from your guitar, is the guitar USB. These are much cheaper than audio interfaces and work well. You just need to plug one end of the cable into your guitar and the other into your PC.
The only problem with this method is that it’s not suitable to record and mix multiple sound sources. For example, if you want to mix your guitar with another instrument or your vocals in the future, you’ll either need an audio interface or a USB mixer.
2. Recording With an Amp and Audio Interface
If you love the amp in your guitar recordings, but you don’t want to put in the extra effort to mic up your speaker, then this one’s for you. In this method, you’ll need to connect the guitar to your amp, take the line out of the amp, and connect it to the audio interface. Once this is done, you’re all set to start recording in your desired software.
This method might take a little time to master because you’ll have to take care of three things: the guitar, the amp, and the audio interface. However, once you manage to align the settings of all three, your recording will sound better than ever.
We hope this brief would help you sort a few things in your mind before planning to record on a PC. If you are new and want to make a place for yourself in the world of recording, do not get bewildered.
Follow the simple steps and start recording your best work. You might well have composed a few best songs in the past; what immense tragedy would it be if you did not get to listen to them.
It is good to say that recording an expert-sounding guitar part has never been cheaper or more straightforward. Technology has leveled up the playing field as per the musician’s favor.