- Max Kuehn
If you want to learn how to connect electric guitar to PC, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll show you how to do it in just a few simple steps. Luckily, this is a relatively simple process that only requires a few steps. With the right equipment and a little bit of know-how, you’ll be strumming away in no time.
How To Connect My Electric Guitar To PC
An audio interface is the most common way to connect an electric guitar to a computer. An audio interface is a basic box that accepts your guitar or other inputs and turns the output into a digital signal that you can send to your computer through USB.
The Focusrite Scarlett series of audio interfaces is the most popular among guitarists (link to Amazon to see the different models, features, and prices). The Scarlett 2i4 is shown in the photo below:
The main idea behind the box, which has a lot of buttons and knobs, is that it allows you to attach a guitar line from your electric guitar to the interface. The interface then processes the guitar signal and sends it to your computer via USB.
As you can see, the interface above allows you to connect to many instruments (or microphones) simultaneously. If you plan on recording, this is ideal because you can record many mics or instruments simultaneously.
Suppose you plan on recording acoustic guitar or vocals in the future. In that case, an audio interface package like this one from Sweetwater that includes a condenser microphone and headphones is a good investment.
Most audio interfaces also allow you to plug in headphones directly to the interface, allowing you to play guitar in complete silence. Check out this guide if you want to connect electric guitar with headphones. The article also offers recommendations for the best headphones.
While the above interface is an excellent choice for many guitarists, the iRig HD 2 by IK Multimedia is a simpler and less expensive option:
Although the Focusrite Scarlett can handle numerous instruments or microphones simultaneously, the compact interface is a fantastic alternative if you only want to input one guitar into your computer.
You may also connect it to your Mac, iPhone, or iPad (Android is not supported). This means you can play the guitar with the iRig while traveling or even if you don’t have access to a computer.
Consider the following considerations when selecting an audio interface:
- Do you wish to be able to simultaneously record various instruments?
- Do you wish to be able to connect your computer to a microphone?
- Will you wish to record drums in the future (optimal results require several microphones)?
- Do you want the interface to work with both your smartphone and computer?
Different interfaces offer different functionality, so consider what is most important to you. All interfaces will connect your guitar to a computer in the simplest way possible.
Pedal with Multi-Effects
While an audio interface is the most common way to link an electric guitar to a computer, most modern multi-effect pedals can also accomplish the job.
Today, almost every multi-effect pedal has a USB port, allowing you to connect it to your computer and utilize it as an audio interface.
For example, the USB port on Line 6’s compact but powerful HX Stomp is shown below.
Even modest multi-effects pedals like this one will contain a USB connector for connecting to a computer.
When you link your guitar to your computer with a multi-effects pedal, you can keep using the pedal’s effects and tones while playing through your computer. This is a terrific option if you want to capture those tones or just jam along with some backing tracks.
If you want to record a dry signal, skip any effects or presets on your multi-effects pedal. Check whether your multi-effect pedal has a USB jack if you already have one.
You might be able to utilize it as an audio interface if it does. Check the instructions for your pedal to see what settings you’ll need to use as an audio interface (every pedal is different).
This option will not allow you to connect your guitar to a computer because you don’t have a guitar amp. Whether you have an amplifier, check to see if it has a USB port on the back.
A USB connector is included on many modern amplifiers, allowing you to connect your amp to your computer and utilize it as an audio interface.
The back of the popular BOSS Katana amp, for example, is shown in the shot below:
You can see that it has a USB port and all of the other standard jacks found on a modern guitar amp. You can probably connect your guitar amp to a computer if it has a USB connector like this one on the back.
Connecting your guitar amp to your computer has the major benefit of allowing you to jam and record your guitar utilizing any of your amp’s tones. So, if you like the sound of your amp’s drive channel, you may record it directly without having to put a microphone in front of it.
It’s not always about practicing and recording when you connect your guitar to your computer. Line 6 also offers the Variax Series of guitars, which apply the modeling amp concept to the actual guitar.
These guitars have a slider that lets you change the sound profile of the guitar digitally based on the style you want to play. You may link your Variax guitar to your computer using the adapter box and an ethernet cable, and you can download new profiles and build custom ones using the Line 6 Workbench program.
Guitar USB Cables
Guitar cables on the market provide direct 14″ jack to USB connectivity, like this ATNY connection. The results might be mixed with these cables, and the major issue is latency. The most important thing to avoid when connecting a guitar to a computer is latency.
If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, latency refers to the time it takes for a note to register with software. It’s incredibly distracting, and it can make playing along with drums or a metronome impossible. Fortunately, they are very affordable, and the risk of trying one for exploration is minimal — your mileage may vary!
Choosing the Best Alternative for You
Each of the selections above is appropriate for a different guitarist. You need a suitable connection to connect your guitar to your computer if you already have an amp or pedal with a USB jack (find out about the different types of USB cables here).
An audio interface is an inexpensive and effective way 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. You can use your computer as a guitar amp and run any plugins or programs you want if you always have an audio interface attached to it.
An audio interface is the most versatile option for most guitarists. For under $100, you can get a decent interface that will generate high-quality recordings.
How To Connect Acoustic Guitar To PC
If you don’t have an electric guitar, are you wondering if your acoustic model can be connected to your computer?
That depends entirely on the type of acoustic guitar you have. So, let’s have a look at your choices.
Electric and Acoustic Guitars
You’re lucky if you have an acoustic guitar with an inbuilt pickup, also known as an electro-acoustic guitar. Connecting one of these to your computer is quite simple.
You attach an acoustic-electric guitar to your computer the same way as an electric guitar would.
So, all you have to do now is follow the steps for an electric guitar above. For electro-acoustic guitars, we still recommend the same audio interfaces.
Acoustic Guitars (Standard) (No Internal Pickups)
If you only have a standard acoustic guitar with no internal pickups, you’ll have to think about things a little differently.
There is no way to directly connect the guitar to an audio interface because it lacks internal pickups.
Instead, you must utilize a microphone to capture the guitar’s sounds, which must then be linked to an audio interface.
A single microphone will suffice to capture a rough cut of your track if you’re laying down a fast and filthy track. If you’re serious about it, you’ll need more than one mic and an audio interface with numerous mic inputs so you can arrange them around the instrument.
You’ll also need a room optimized for home recording if you’re serious about this, but that’s something we’ll discuss in another tutorial.
You can also use a USB mic to connect directly to your computer and avoid using an audio interface. However, the outcomes usually sound worse this way.
How To Use A Computer As A Guitar Amp
It’s never been easier to dump the traditional amplifier in favor of a virtual setup hosted on your cell phone, tablet, or computer, whether for space savings, cost, or courtesy to your roommates, family, or neighbors.
You’ll need software that can be used alone rather than as a plugin to accomplish so. For this, Garageband, Ableton Live 11, Amplitube 4, and Bias Elite are all excellent choices.
A virtual rig puts the world at your fingertips when dialing in the right tone. Physical versions of the amps and effects you can set up on your computer can cost thousands of dollars, and while purists may argue that nothing beats the real thing, only a true audiophile can tell the difference in a blind test.
You’ll not only have cheaper replicas of the world’s top gear, but you’ll also be able to experiment with the settings for each, sometimes in ways you couldn’t with the real thing.
Another advantage is saving numerous versions of the same amps and effects. For example, if you’ve set up three profiles for your virtual Marshall Silver Jubilee, you can switch between them at the push of a button, whereas you’d have to buy three amplifiers to accomplish the same with actual gear!
Using Your Computer as an Amplifier and Controlling Effects
Using a computer as an amplifier, however, has several disadvantages. Adjusting controls are usually more complex than a real version with a pedal board. Switching between FX also necessitates taking your hands off the guitar and clicking on the virtual controls.
Using a midi controller, we can correct this. This device resembles a stompbox or multi-effects pedal, but it is configured to control your virtual effects. If this is something you’re interested in, the Behringer FCB1010 is an excellent choice. It features ten preset banks and an expression pedal, making it quite versatile.
You can use your midi controller to manage your virtual effects, modify volume or tone, operate wah-wah and other expression pedal-based FX, and even control any virtual looper pedals you’ve set up.
While a midi footswitch is not required to use your computer as an amplifier, having that control level provides a much more natural playing experience, and it is strongly recommended.
AmpliTube 4 by IK Multimedia
The current version of their acclaimed amp and effects emulation suite, AmpliTube 4, is available. AmpliTube 4 can be used as a standalone application or a DAW plugin (Digital Audio Workstation).
AmpliTube 4 is shown operating as a plugin inside a DAW for recording purposes in the screenshot below:
As you can see, this screen resembles a normal guitar amplifier. To fit your interests, you can change amp models, dial in different parameters, or even alter the sort of tubes inside the amp model.
As illustrated below, AmpliTube 4 may also be used to set up several effects pedals:
You can choose from various effects and customize your setup in any way you wish. Drag the pedals around like an actual pedal to modify the sequence and tweak the settings.
Other capabilities include cabinet simulation, setting up different microphones and spaces, and employing rack effects.
Note: If you purchase the iRig HD 2 (the audio interface described above), you will receive the complete version of AmpliTube 4. So, if you were thinking about acquiring that audio interface, you can utilize AmpliTube 4.
If you have AmpliTube 4, I teach how to produce different types of tones from scratch in Part 2 of my Guitar Effects Course. While the course isn’t a tutorial for AmpliTube 4, you could find it helpful to learn how to make different tones and presets.
Verdict: Strongly recommended. I use AmpliTube 4 for recording all of the time, and the flexibility you have over your amp, effects, cabinet, microphone location, and so on is incredible.
Guitar Rig 6 by Native Instruments
Guitar Rig 5 was a hugely popular application that was always in a tight race with AmpliTube. Because many guitarists still use it today, you’re likely to hear other guitarists discuss it online.
After a long wait, Guitar Rig 6 was finally launched in late 2020. Guitar Rig 6 is one of the greatest options to play with a wide selection of effects and tones.
Like the other alternatives in this list, Guitar Rig 6 can replicate authentic guitar tones, but it shines when it comes to ambient and experimental effects.
Verdict: Recommended for musicians who wish to go beyond basic guitar amp tones. Guitar Rig 6’s routing options put it miles ahead of the competition.
BIAS FX by Positive Grid
The initial BIAS FX blew everyone away with its fantastic tones when it was launched. The BIAS AMP software allowed you to delve into the inner workings of an amp model and customize it to a level that no other software could match.
BIAS FX 2 is now available, and it, as expected, outperforms the original in terms of quality.
As you can see, BIAS FX 2 is easy to use because it concentrates on displaying effects and amplifiers with lifelike representations of the genuine pedals and amplifiers. You’ll recognize the green’screamer’ pedal and the spherical red fuzz pedal if you’re familiar with popular guitar pedals.
If you’re seeking a high-quality alternative to a real guitar amp, BIAS FX 2 may be the best option.
It can be used as a standalone application or as a DAW plugin. With the standalone program, you can use your computer as a guitar amp, and if you wish to record any portions, you can open BIAS FX 2 in any DAW.
Verdict: Strongly recommended. Tones of exceptional quality in a user-friendly interface.
Helix Native by Line 6
Helix Native is a plug-in based on the modeling software that helped make the Helix pedals famous.
It comes with everything you’d expect from a Helix plugin, including amp models, effects models, IRs (learn more about IRs here), etc.
As you can see from the screenshot above, line 6 has adopted a significantly different visual approach than the other applications in this book. Rather than trying to look like real pedals and amps, the arrangement follows the display on the Helix floorboard.
It takes some getting used to because you have to adjust sliders rather than tweaking knobs, but it is simple to operate.
Helix Native has the disadvantage of not being a standalone application. It can only be used as a plugin within a DAW. You’ll also need a DAW to run Helix Native if you want to use your computer as a guitar amp.
Verdict: Moderately suggested. Because there is no standalone version, this is excessively limited and necessitates the usage of a DAW. While the effects and tones are excellent, the interface is strange and not as user-friendly as BIAS FX or Guitar Rig 6. Helix Native is more expensive than BIAS FX 2, but the extra cost may be justified for some guitarists.
There are several inexpensive choices for playing music on your PC. Whether you’re looking for a short way to practice or a place where you can start producing and sculpting tones for your “sound library,” Fidlar believes that one of the solutions listed here will suit your needs.