Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Talk about your MIDI interfaces, microphones, keyboards...

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sysrqer
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Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby sysrqer » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:15 pm

I'm ashamed to say I don't know much about getting guitar signals in to computers, it's always been a bit of a gray area for me. I haven't had a guitar for a few years and the last time I had one I was using the V-amp to emulate the amp and then recorded directly in to the computer. Now my set up is a bit different.
I have a laptop and I will soon have an electric guitar. Ideally I would like to just plug the guitar in to my laptop, record it and process it after with guitarix (or do that on the way in, whichever). I'm guessing this isn't going to be very good quality though, not that I need pristine sound but I may as well aim as high as possible. Would I need some kind of usb soundcard or a DI or something? Is it really necessary?

What would be the cheapest solution? I saw a mention of this https://www.amazon.com/Black-Guitar-Int ... B003U6CT5K which is a good price and would fit my needs (I only want to record one guitar, I don't need knobs or faders or other inputs).

Or should I just buy a jack to mini jack and plug the guitar straight in to my laptop?

How about something like this https://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_guitar_2_usb.htm

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby beck » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:39 pm

Two usual way's to do so.

Plug the amp in a mixer board (which is plugged in at your pc to record).
Or put a mic in front of your amp to record.

This last one gives a more spacious sound in a way you can difficult get with plugin's. Where the first one mostly is easier to mix and edit afterwards while your sound is 'flatter'.

I do both. While the different sound styles you get from both way's can be wanted to reach your goal.
Like for a clear sound 'romantic easy listening' song you want 'deeper' sound than like say for snairing distorted punk or rock.

sysrqer wrote:Or should I just buy a jack to mini jack and plug the guitar straight in to my laptop?

:mrgreen:
And this is the unusual third easiest and cheapest option. This is a way that most 'professional recorders' ever heard about and they will alway's yell denying this possibily while screaming that plugging in your pc IS NOT POSSIBLE and can never ever give good results! :roll: :twisted:
Look at the super linux software program called: Guitarix.
http://guitarix.org

But if you want to do more with recording i would say, go profi and buy some gear. Doesn't have to be that expencive to start with it (like for instance a used simple analog mixer board).
Good luck!

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby j_e_f_f_g » Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:49 pm

What audio interface do you own? Most have a "hi-z" (high impedance) input you can directly plug your guitar or bass into. In other words, most have a D.I. box built into them. Commonplace is a combo jack into which you plug either an xlr (mic) cable, or a 1/4 inch mono cord (guitar or keys). If you plug in an xlr, then the interface goes low impedance for a mic. If you instead plug in a 1/4 inch cord, then the interface goes high impedance for a guitar/bass or keyboard. For high impedance, there is usually an additional switch you toggle to either "HI-Z" (guitar/bass) or "Line" (keys, analog mixer, Cd player, guitar amp's "preamp out", etc).

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby sysrqer » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:10 pm

j_e_f_f_g wrote:What audio interface do you own?

I don't have one. That's pretty much my question, whether I need one or if I can record directly in to my laptop's onboard card.

I don't want to record with a mic, it's not really an option for me.

beck wrote:Plug the amp in a mixer board (which is plugged in at your pc to record).

What's the difference between this and plugging it straight in to the pc? It changes the impedence? Uses the preamp?

beck wrote:And this is the unusual third easiest and cheapest option. This is a way that most 'professional recorders' ever heard about and they will alway's yell denying this possibily while screaming that plugging in your pc IS NOT POSSIBLE and can never ever give good results! :roll: :twisted:
Look at the super linux software program called: Guitarix.
http://guitarix.org


But can it lead to ok results? I used to do this years ago with a program called Amplitude as an amp sim but the results were always a little noisy, especially listening back to the recordings now, I can hear a distinct hum/hiss around 10khz.
I know guitarix is good, that's not my concern, I'm more worried about the quality of the audio going in to it.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby beck » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:44 pm

sysrqer wrote:
j_e_f_f_g wrote:What audio interface do you own?

I don't have one. That's pretty much my question, whether I need one or if I can record directly in to my laptop's onboard card.


I don't have an interface. Like i said i have a mixer board plugged in the pc.
So without interface is possible.

I'm not gonna discus which is the best option, while that's each personal preference and therefore IMHO not to discus.
Further i'll explane my considerations for this setup.

sysrqer wrote:
beck wrote:Plug the amp in a mixer board (which is plugged in at your pc to record).

What's the difference between this and plugging it straight in to the pc? It changes the impedence? Uses the preamp?


I use this mixer board especialy while it offers so many options.
Like for instance, i can set a switch on each chanel to change the impendancy of the chanel-in, so i can plug in almost everything. Including an guitar amplifier. :mrgreen: So this way i can also use all effects build in the amplifier.

Eventualy i play guitar on the guitar amp with effects (w/ favorit; distortion), and then can choose if i plug in directly or put a mic in front of it.
And in the same setting i for instance can plug in two electric guitars on there amp's and for instance keyboards and 2 mic's all together. Actually i can plug in a total band up to 8 channels (but that doesn't record very handy)
You can't plug a guitar amp in your pc! Let alone more. Or with lot's off distortion. :wink:

I know. Not a regular setup in the current digital time. But it works great for me and my none digital recordings (with electric guitars).
Eventually it will become digital when editted and masterd within the DAW. And then digital aspects can (and will) be added. But that's after recording.

sysrqer wrote:
beck wrote:And this is the unusual third easiest and cheapest option. This is a way that most 'professional recorders' ever heard about and they will alway's yell denying this possibily while screaming that plugging in your pc IS NOT POSSIBLE and can never ever give good results! :roll: :twisted:
Look at the super linux software program called: Guitarix.
http://guitarix.org


But can it lead to ok results? I used to do this years ago with a program called Amplitude as an amp sim but the results were always a little noisy, especially listening back to the recordings now, I can hear a distinct hum/hiss around 10khz.
I know guitarix is good, that's not my concern, I'm more worried about the quality of the audio going in to it.


I myselve never used guitarix while my settup provides the same in analog version.
But what i've heard about guitarix is that it works great with great results (several to be heard on this forum if i'm not wrong).

So finally. Listen to all of us while all given options are resonable, and pick the best fitting setting you are looking for.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby glowrak guy » Sat Dec 17, 2016 8:43 pm

Used Fender Mustang 1 v.1 usb modeling amp/interface run $60 used,
new Mustang 1 v.2 is $120 new, both work with a debian app called 'plug'
that exposes (edit) the effects for edit/save.

sudo apt-get install mustang-plug

You can save 24 presets on the amps main dial, and unlimited #'s on disk.
Choose the Mustang in qjackctl 'input device' setting.

The older v1 has 12 amp models, newer one several more,
and the effects can be chained pre/post model.
There is a cab selection, even bias/sag settings.
Plug opens a separate selector panel for each area
of the amp.

You can make a clean setting for guitarix/rakarrack etc, from the Twin Reverb model,
or download a custom made one from a Fender website.

http://forums.fender.com/viewforum.php? ... 8c1cc4702c

google: fender fuse mustang preset "clean tone"

(fuse is Fenders mac/win gui amp/web software.)

An android app called Remuda can also control/edit the amp,
recently bluetooth is implemented, so using two androids can give you
wireless control, of which I have no personal experience. Remuda topic:

http://forums.fender.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=100626

StudioDave did a nice Mustang article in the Linux Journal,
a few moons back.
Cheers
Last edited by glowrak guy on Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby sadko4u » Sat Dec 17, 2016 8:54 pm

For good quality, you should by audio interface with 'Instrument' input like Forusrite Sapphire/Scarlett.
I also specially bought Radial J48 + X-Amp to record/reamp guitar, so I use them to record DI signal.
Currently, there is alternative available from good russian hardware developers, AMT: http://amtelectronics.com/new/amt-reincarnator-rd-2/
This thing is both Di-Box and Reamper together. And it costs less than Radial.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby glowrak guy » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:07 am

Fender Mustang provides the instrument input, and just a usb cable to computer/qjackctl.
Low cost, low noise, great sound, and priced very nicely. Simple, yet great.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby kbongosmusic » Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:05 am

Just tried wiring an electric guitar straight to a laptop. I though it would work ok, but it didn't, not enough volume. My newer laptop has a combined 1/8th inch jack that is labeled both headphone and mic. I didn't use that, I suppose it requires a three tip jack that I don't have. So I tried an older laptop to it's mic 1/8th inch jack. I cranked up the input level, but it still would only give only about 1/4 the total volume range. This using audacity.
I did test it with a headphone with a mic built in, that worked fine - but that's what it's designed for. I then switched to a Behringer USB audio adapter UCA202 with RCA inputs. That gave the same results - too low volume. And this results in noise if you try to compensate and turn up the volume after recording. I tried a few other electric guitars, same thing. Hooked guitar to my scope. I see a signal that can get up to 1 volt peak to peak, but that's really twanging the strings, mostly it is much less than that. A 10k resistor across the output brought the signal down to less than half. A google on electric guitar impedance said around 6k to 10k, and said this was high impedance.

So from that I assume the guitar signal is a little too weak to use directly. You need something to amplify it and provide a little more drive(lower impedance) is helpful. So that's where a mixer or effect unit is helpful - something designed for the range of signal that a guitar puts out. I have a 4 input Behringer UB802 that works well. 2 of the inputs have an added pre-amp stage for boosting microphone signals that I have found can be very needed on mic's. I also use a Digitech RP350 as an effects unit. It is designed for guitar input, and provides some nice effects, in stereo. It also acts as a standard 16-bit USB audio interface, I tried it once or twice and it worked great. But mostly I run that into my mixer, then into a 24-bit PCI card on a desktop for recording. The mixer is nice in that it allows me to find just the right level coming in to the audio interface, and I can tap other things into it - like headphones. I think the 24-bit interface gets me a bit more headroom/quality.

I am a fan of minimalist approach, so in some ways these things are just added junk in-between my computer and guitar. They take up room, more cables, bla. And I think the 24-bits versus 16 may not be that important. But, keep in mind most audio interfaces stock on laptops and PC's are commodity(junk?), so using a higher quality interface is generally needed. Also a dry guitar signal is pretty boring and some effects can really make a difference. And it can be nice to be able to hear your guitar with the effects immediately, without having to depend on the PC to return it, or apply effects. Actually it makes sense to do all the processing in the PC, but that requires a lot of real time software tweaking that I have limited patience for(I just want to play guitar and have it work). So even though I believe the effects unit is just one more signal path to degrade the sound, it is an appliance that makes my life easier and not need to mess with the software so much.

A headphone out on a guitar amp or effect could be routed to the PC input as a cheap pre-amp. Now generally I don't think you need to worry too much about blowing your laptop by hooking up things like this to the PC audio interface, but you never know, a little static electricity can zap things out. That would be another reason to use a USB audio adapter, provides some protection. The USB guitar interface you linked to might be a reasonable low-budget thing to try, something designed for an electric guitar at least.

I've been wanting to pick up a nice 24-bit interface like focusrite or presonus for laptop use, but just haven't been able to bring myself to springing $100+ bucks for one yet. I saw a 2-ch presonus for $100 at a music store the other day, tempted.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby English Guy » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:33 pm

You should easily be able to get enough volume using your input with an electric guitar. You may need to play with the settings in alsamixer

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby sadko4u » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:51 pm

I wouldn't recommend to use built-in sound interfaces. Better use external interfaces with instrument input.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby sysrqer » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:04 pm

Thanks for the input everyone, especially kbongosmusic, that's exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I will most likely buy a interface then and will check out all the suggestions listed here.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby beck » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:34 pm

@glowrak guy
Wonderfull information!!


@sysrqer
I forgot forgot to emphasize an important consideration. A consideration to launch a discussion about will be endless. :roll: But i still (only) mention it.
Analogue or digital? Which direction will you go, and for how long within your system?

There are pro's to digital record digital output of your interface.
But there are also some to give about digital recording an analogue signal coming from an analogue interface.

On consideration is that analogue has the clearest and widest frequency range. Analogue still has the highest bitrate, unreachable for digital gear.
And i never ever have any latency problems (quite common with digital gear).
IMHO both good to conciser arguments when recording analogue instruments and vocals. Bad arguments for digital and midi compozers.

The last one is my setup. All analogue, until recording which is digital (and after that editing and mastering also).

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby sysrqer » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:48 pm

glowrak guy wrote:Used Fender Mustang 1 v.1 usb modeling amp/interface run $60 used,
new Mustang 1 v.2 is $120 new,

Is this what you are talking about http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Mustang1V2 ?
I'm sure it sounds fantastic but it wouldn't be an option for me, I would have to shp it to my country and pay import taxes, both at least partly based on weight so it would turn out quite pricy for me.

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Re: Buying a guitar - how to record it?

Postby sysrqer » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:50 pm

beck wrote:@sysrqer
I forgot forgot to emphasize an important consideration. A consideration to launch a discussion about will be endless. :roll: But i still (only) mention it.
Analogue or digital? Which direction will you go, and for how long within your system?

There are pro's to digital record digital output of your interface.
But there are also some to give about digital recording an analogue signal coming from an analogue interface.

On consideration is that analogue has the clearest and widest frequency range. Analogue still has the highest bitrate, unreachable for digital gear.
And i never ever have any latency problems (quite common with digital gear).
IMHO both good to conciser arguments when recording analogue instruments and vocals. Bad arguments for digital and midi compozers.

The last one is my setup. All analogue, until recording which is digital (and after that editing and mastering also).


I don't really want to say too much on this subject because I know (from previous discussions) that we share different outlooks. My considerations are roughly in this order: cheapness, sound quality, ease of use. This dictates my direction with regards to amps, mixers, fx etc.


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