simple setup

Hi, I have a Soundmax Integrated Digital Audio soundcard. I would like to be able to play some rhythm tracks from my electric guitar, and then record a lead over them. Pretty simple stuff.

Other than the n-track software, what other things will I need to buy in order to do the above?

How do I interface my electric guitar to the pc?

thx,
tom

well,
are you playing a real amp? if so you’ll need:

1 microphone
1 microphone cable
1 microphone pre-amplifier
1 tip/ring/sleeve (trs, or otherwise known as a “stereo” cable) with a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter.

as far as mics go, can’t go wrong with the sm57
preamps, tons of choices, but low end is gonna be ART MP style, or M-Audio Audio Buddy

cable, any will do at this point.

you mic the amp, plug the mic into the preamp, the preamp amplifies the signal from a very low level instrument signal to a fairly high level Balanced Line Level signal. this is sent out of the preamp to your Line In on your soundcard.

the rest is software settings.

As guitar69 said…

But, if you want a simpler setup, just go through a good guitar stomp box, (switched to clean), and then into the line-in on your soundcard. Then use NI Guitar Rig or other FX to give you the sound you want.

See, the problem with guitars is; the very high output impedance. So you can’t successfully just plug a guitar into a line in, (and definitely not a mic in).

So, Guitar69’s solution is the best if you want your onstage sound, but going through a stomp box, or better still, a DI box, can give very good results too. :)

Ali

Ok, thanks. However, I’m not in a band. It’s just me playing some rhythm and then some leads over it. Basically my brothers and I get together periodically to jam. I want to send them the songs I’m working on ahead of time. SO, sounds like I need to bring down the signal from my amp before going into the line in.

My amp doesn’t have line out, but it does have a 1/4 inch speakers and headphones output jacks. Can I drive either one of them into my line in, or will I need to throw some electronics in between to adjust the impedance or whatever.

thx,
tom

do NOT use the speaker output…headphone maybe.

Cruiser

speaker outputs NO, headphone will probably overdrive too causing unwanted distortion, so suggest things guitars69 and ali mentioned. Also small mixing console will work too, with microphone.

Super-simple starter system:

Line 6 Guitarport Interface - $99

http://www.zzounds.com/item–LINGUITARPORT

Cheap set up that will also be useful for other things down the road:

Cheap minimal mixer to use for preamp/playback purposes:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7…9

One industry standard cheap dynamic:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7…2

A mic cable (M-XLR / F-XLR):

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7…7

And a cable from the outs of the mixer to the 1/8 inch stereo in on your soundcard.

You can find much cheaper mics. Some might work. :)

Thanks again for all the help.

tom

Mick…I use a strat, an accoustic and a keyboard. I plug whatever instrument I am going to record (headphone out on the keyboard) into my Digitech efx pedal and plug that into my line in on the soundcard. Works for me, except I have to keep changing the instrument plug in. Since I usually need to do a zillion takes anyway that is not a big problem…a mixer would fix it but for now the Combo Rockers (my phantom band) are satisfied… :D

An even simpler, cheaper, quick way to start is to get a female 1/4" to male 1/8" adapter. Plug your guitar to the adapter, the adapter to the microphone in of your soundcard.

Not the best, but it works to get things started. Long-term as you get into this more, all the above suggestions are correct, good ones.

Quote (valrecorder @ May 03 2005,16:41)
An even simpler, cheaper, quick way to start is to get a female 1/4" to male 1/8" adapter. Plug your guitar to the adapter, the adapter to the microphone in of your soundcard.

Not the best, but it works to get things started. Long-term as you get into this more, all the above suggestions are correct, good ones.

:(

Ali

I did have a post back-along that discussed impedance matching and levels, but it’s gone.

But, here’s another go.

The line-in i/p on your sound-card is probably 10k or 47k, or something like that. And, it can take “line levels” (see Learjeff’s or Phoo’s posts for the various definitions of “line-level”. But anyway, it means it can take a fairly high level without overloading).

Mic i/p’s tend to be much lower impedance, (typically 600 Ohm), and they are designed for much lower levels.

So, it’s easy to overload them, and because they usually have a cheap inbuilt pre-amp, they can be noisy and nasty.

Now, a guitar pick-up has a fairly high o/p level (voltage-wise), but it also has a very high o/p impedance, typically a few hundred k.

So, because of the high o/p impedance; yeah, the voltage arriving at your mic i/p may be ok level-wise, (sort of), but it’s going to do all sorts of horrible things to your frequency response.

This is because, in a perfect world, all impedances would be purely resistive (i.e. not frequency conscious), however, a guitar pick-up is very inductive, and hence very frequency conscious, so correct impedance matching is important.

Anyway, as Val says, it’ll probably work, (more or less), but not only are you going to have to tolerate the built in pre-amp, but your guitar will probably sound “thin” too.

But, try it and see! :)

Ali

Right – guitar direct to line input barely works, if at all. You can usually get some signal, but it sounds like crap. Far better to use the headphone output of your amp. Just be careful with the amp level, start recording and watch the meters as you turn up your amp.

Mac over at audiominds.com did the math for me. He figured out that with typical line inputs and a 100W amp, you’re pushing the safety margin (the current rating for the resistors in the line inputs). However, that’s wasn’t counting the effects the unwanted voltage & current being shunted to ground might have on your computer. The bottom line is it’s not instant fry city, but it’s definitely idiotic to plug speaker outputs into a line input. Headphone outputs aren’t ideal but usually work just fine.

Note that much of the sound of your amp is based on the speaker, and you won’t get that this way. To compensate, go to MDA and download their free VST plugins. It’s a zip file, open it up and drag “combo.dll” into the “VstPlugins” directory in your n-Track folder. (It might have a hypen or something.) Then start up n-Track and record a guitar track. Plug that effect into the guitar track and adjust to make it sound more realistic.

That’s good for starters. And there’s more!

BTW, I agree with the folks above who recommended a simple guitar modeler like Line 6 guitar port, or POD (more expensive but better sounding) or Genesis3 (what I use) or a Johnson J-Station. That way, you can get a lot of different amp sounds & effects, record using headphones while the baby’s sleeping, and get good tracks with a lot less effort than it takes to get a good sound miking an amp.

Miking an amp is the best sound, no doubt about it. But that takes a decent mike, a decent mike preamp, and a lot of time to fiddle, as well as an imagination. Fun and highly recommended, but not “the only way” by any means. (It also depends on the kind of sound you want and how picky you are.)

After you get started recording your guitar and having fun, the next two steps are:

1) learning to use a click track
2) learning to build rhythm tracks (drums & bass)

Lots of tricks for all the above. Equipment not required. Some folks like loopy programs (like fruity loops & acid) which are cool though not necessary.

And a word of caution. If there’s a tune you really like and are dying to record, your magnum opus – do NOT start with that one. Start with easy stuff that won’t matter if you get sick of it by the time you’re done and have learned lots of stuff you could have done better. Save the special tunes for after you’ve got a couple easy ones under your belt, and you’re happy with the results.

Continuing Jeff’s idea of using plug-ins to get the right sound…Something else I highly recommend is the NI Guitar Rig.

On another forum I’m a member of, several people are using it, and while most of us agree that the AC-30 emulation leaves a bit to be desired, most other amp/speaker emulations are truly excellent.

Ali

Quote (learjeff @ May 03 2005,17:26)
And a word of caution. If there's a tune you really like and are dying to record, your magnum opus -- do NOT start with that one. Start with easy stuff that won't matter if you get sick of it by the time you're done and have learned lots of stuff you could have done better. Save the special tunes for after you've got a couple easy ones under your belt, and you're happy with the results.

Now, that is good advice. :)

Guitar rig – if only it were about $400 less! :(

Removed

Ali