Beginners often have a hard time figuring out how to record guitar. Irrespective of recording it in personal computers, tabs, Mac or iPad, it is one of the most common queries. Be it an electric or an acoustic guitar, recording seems a hard nut to crack. But, once you get to it, everything becomes easier. For that, it is important for you to follow a step-by step guide. Don’t worry! We got it in our article - How to Record Guitar on PC?
Another assumption about recording guitar is, it is expensive. Most of us might back off thinking it requires a bunch of gadgets. Over that, recording guitar also seems impossible. But that’s not the case. Some knowledge and dedication to learning it can totally solve the problem.
So, let’s get into the process. You got this!
How to Record Guitar on PC: Gears you will need
To record guitar on your computer you need some basic equipment. No, none of these will cause you to run to a guitar shop. These are all available in your music station.
- A computer.
- Your guitar
- A DAW
- A pair of headset
- Audio Interface
- Cables and stand
If you are a professional musician trying to record, you might also want to get hands on guitar amplifier, microphones and amp stimulator. But, these are totally optional. Beginners aren’t subjected to use these. However, using these advanced tools to record your guitar will definitely have a better result.
How to Record Guitar on PC: Methods of Recording Acoustic vs Electric guitar
You don’t need to be a guitarist to know that electric guitars and acoustic guitars work differently. So, there are different methods and techniques for each type of guitar. Now we will be telling you ways for each type of guitar recording.
Recording Electric guitar:
It can be done in different ways, but there are 5 prominent and friendly ways to do it.
- Use an audio interface to directly record guitar in the PC
Following the instructions of your audio interface, connect it to your computer. Attach the guitar to instrument input. Next, you need to enhance the dry signal by plug-ins. As a result, you will get a great sound balancing the chorus, distortion, and delay and simulating amps.
By using audio interface, you can also keep tweaking the recording after it’s recorded.
- Use USB-guitar interface to record it directly
Guitar-USB interface are one-stop solution to record guitar directly. This is the easiest and most affordable solution among all.
- Connect guitar to amp and audio interface
By this easy method, you can start recording using software. All you need to do is connect your guitar to the amp and take the line out into the interface. Tweaking the guitar, amp and interface will take some time but the recording will be great.
- Use a portable digital recorder
Recording using a Portable Digital Recorder is popular among young guitarists. PDR like Zoom H4N Pro has pre-amps and built-in mics. The best part about this is, it doesn’t require to be connected with a computer. You can easily record and transfer.
- Use a microphone
To record using microphone, guitar, amp, 1 A-microphone and XLR Lead are required. Keep the microphones pointing at central speakers about 2 inches away. You can also adjust the distance as what you think is the best. This is an old way to record guitar.
By these easy methods, you can record an electric guitar on your PC in a jiffy.
How to Record Guitar on PC: Recording Acoustic Guitar:
In order to record an acoustic guitar, you can choose any way from the four steps we are mentioning below.
- Use audio interface and condenser microphone
Using a large diaphragm condenser mic is an amazing way to record guitar. Place with at least 3 feet away from you. You can adjust however it is needed.
- Use acoustic guitar output and PC input.
For this, you will need acoustic guitar with 1/4” output, audio interface, recording software and a guitar lead. Connect your guitar to the audio interface. It also provides great recording space. Give it a try!
- Record using condenser microphone and ¼’’ output of guitar
With the help of a condenser microphone and audio interface, there will be amazing result from the fingerboard. The recording will be clean and crisp. The best part of this method is, you can record two signals simultaneously.
- Use USB microphone
The most affordable option for recording guitar is using USB microphone. All you need are a microphone stand and USB condenser mic. It has good value for price. You will end up with a decent enough recording.
So, the methods of recording electric and acoustic guitars are similar but not exactly same.
Use a Microphone
As previously mentioned, microphones are a great option to record guitar. Now, we’ll move on to discussing various microphones available for this task.
- Dynamic mic:
If you are not too bothered about the acoustic treatment, go for a Dynamic mic. It is an easy way to get a great recording using the amp stimulator. Dynamic mics are mostly used for electric guitar. If you’re using XLR lead go for Shure SM57 and for USB microphone you can try out Samson Q2U.
- Condenser Mic:
Condenser microphones are the best for any recording. Be it a small or large diaphragm mic, you’ll end up with a good recording. The acoustic treatment will also be maintained. The clean, crisp sound of the recording-ah! Talk about that!
- Second mic:
Using an extra microphone will step up your recording game. Two mics will catch different tones while recording. You can easily tweak and change your recording with the help of software. A second mic is best for professionals who want two kinds of tones, warm and crisp- both at a time.
Setting up Digital Audio Workstation is a prime step for recording guitar. It enables you to record, edit and mix your sound. There are different DAW available but for guitars, Reaper and Garageband can be two great options.
Pro Tools and LogicPro will also do the job as they are popular among guitarists.
Setting up Audio Interface
Fixing the audio interface can come off as a difficult task. But all it needs is plugging in studio microphones to computer. Make sure to concentrate on setting up the input and output. Then you’ll be good to record.
There is a bunch of recording methods for both acoustic and electric guitars. Recording an amplifier needs a microphone but you can also plug in the interface.
Recording an amp is simple. Adjust your mic as per your requirements. If you keep your mic closer to the cone there will be a clean sound.
If you don’t have an amplifier, use interface drivers. At the first try it might sound awful. But it’ll get better once you settle in.
For recording acoustic guitars, use condenser mics. The sound on 12th and 15th fret board will be bright and crisp.
Steps to record guitar on PC
To record guitar on your Pc, you need to follow two easy steps.
1. Create DAW channel:
The beginners usually face difficulties in input and output of audio interface. Even if it is set in the right manner, the channel might not be correct. So checking input channel is important. If the guitar and audio interface channels don’t match it won’t pick up anything from your guitar.
2. Check your volume:
Often times, after the recording is completed, we find that the sound is too high or low. This spoils the entire recording. We want our recording to be of premium quality ensuring the best sound too. So following ideal volume range for recording, keep your volume between -20dB and -12 dB.
Check out the recording
Following all the methods and tricks we mentioned, you probably aced recording your guitar in PC. Now, you didn’t record it for yourself. You might want to show it to friends and family or even for a work project. Go through your recording using a headphone.
After you have a satisfactory recording, you can use software for recording. From backing up tracks to plug-in effects, you can make a lot of edit there too. You can find loops and riffs there which will help in making excellent guitar tracks.
We would like to add some extra tip for you so that you can come up with outstanding recordings. With all the guidelines above, you might get confused. There are quite some steps to record your guitar. But these simple and highlighted tips should make the recording process easier for you.
- Use Interface drivers
- Use condenser microphone (can’t stress enough)
- Use guitar recording software such as GarageBand, Reaper
- Keep Portable Digital Recorder as an option
Recording guitar on PC is a doable job. With the step by step guide in this article, you can do it too. Lastly, trust your ears. As a guitarist you’ll be able to know which record sounds the best.
You can also read: What is Bridge of a Song?