How To Plug Guitar Into Computer: A Full Guide

Do you find your guitar tunes exciting and worth listening to later after the guitar-playing sessions? You will need to learn how to connect a guitar to the computer. Any computer device will accommodate your guitar and allow you to record your practice and performance sessions.

This way, you will have access to your amazing tunes at any time. Connecting your guitar to your computer will also allow you to record your tones without struggle. Imagine holding a microphone in front of your Amp to record a tune? It will be hectic.

How to connect guitar to computer

How to connect an electric guitar to the computer

When connecting your electric guitar to your computer, you will need to connect some devices to enable a successful guitar-computer connection. If you just connected directly, it wouldn’t work.

The computer needs a unique device connecting the guitar and the computer to process the signal from the guitar. This way, the computer will understand the tune of the guitar and make it easy to record. The following devices will help you connect your guitar to the computer.

By use of an audio interface

An audio interface comes made in a box-like structure. This device will let you connect input devices into it. including a guitar. It then connects to the computer using a USB. An audio interface will convert the guitar’s signal into a digital signal that a laptop/PC may interpret. So, to effectively connect the guitar to the computer:

These audio interfaces come in various sizes. You will need to choose the one that suits your need. As you know, a small one doesn’t accommodate as many instruments as a big one. So, if you intend to use your guitar during music production, you may consider purchasing the more extensive audio interface.

The XTUGA USB audio interface will house fewer instruments compared to the 2021 Podcast Professional DJ audio interface.The type of audio device to use. whether big or small, gets determined by the following factors.

  • The number of instruments you need to record at one time determines the size. If you got several devices, you would need a bigger audio box with multiple input jacks to accommodate several instruments. In this case, the Professional DJ audio interface will be ideal.
  • Suppose you need to connect a microphone to your computer. A microphone helps in capturing guitar signals at different positions. So. if you need one connected to your computer you may need a bigger audio interface. If you don’t need a microphone attached to your computer, a small one will do just fine.
  • Suppose you will need drums in the future. While doing recording, you may not only be limited to the guitar. The music industry requires a mix of several sounds, including drums. Drums require multiple microphones, and so you may need a bigger audio interface to accommodate the instruments.
  • Do you need to connect to other gadgets as well as your computer? Devices like Android phones will require you to have a bigger audio box. Multi-effect Pedals

Many people prefer the old-school way of connecting an electric guitar to a computer. With an increase in technological advancement, a modern multi-effect pedal will do the job just right. Do you have some backing tracks you need jamming into your guitar recording?

This unique device will allow you to achieve that The pedal effects and tunes may play together with the computer giving you a fantastic guitar experience.

Guitarist composing music in home studio
Guitarist composing music in home studio.

You also find this device easy to operate. You will need to connect the multi-effect pedal to the guitar as an input device and connect the multi­-effect pedal to the computer using a USB device. It gets connected like the audio interface.

By bypassing effects and other already recorded sessions, you will record a dry signal. These multi-choices make this device the ultimate tune and signal recorder for your music purposes. You don’t need to invest in an audio interface if you already have a multi-effect pedal.

Expert Tip: Check for your device’s USB portal and connect a cable to your computer. And. just that easy, your device will function just like an audio interface with more benefits.

Remember to go through the instructions from your user manual since all devices prove different.

The COOLMUSIC multi-effect pedal will bring you a fantastic experience. Feel free to search for more of this device at amazon.com today.

By use of a guitar Amp

If you have a guitar amp. it may save you the struggle of investing in an audio interface or a multi-effect pedal. Most modern amps will come equipped with a USB jack behind them. If yours has one. you will use this device and achieve a perfect guitar-computer connection.

You will be looking for something like this.

If your Amp has this USB jack, connect your computer to it using a USB cable. This feature gets used in most modern amps, and it will convert your guitar signal to a digital signal successfully.

You will find it easy to record and jam your computer using the tones from the Amp. Do you love your Amp’s drive channel tones, go ahead and record some without placing a microphone in front of your Amp. This device offers ease of use and quick fixes for your recording needs.

Fender Frontman electric guitar amp has received great reviews and will provide you with this connecting experience.

You may have noticed that the above solutions will fit different guitarists. Since recording itself will cost you. you need to cross-check your available devices and do what suits you best at a cheaper cost If you own an Amp or a multi-effect pedal, you don’t need to buy an audio interface.

You will only need the compatible type of USB cable to connect your guitar to your computer. If you lack these two devices, investing in an audio interface will prove cheaper and more practical.

By running Plugins and programs on your audio interface, you will convert your computer into a guitar amp in no time. Generally, remember to find what best suits your guitar needs as a guitarist

How to connect an Acoustic Guitar to the Computer

A man playing acoustic guitar connected to a computer
A man playing acoustic guitar connected to a computer.

Unlike electric guitars, acoustic guitars produce their sound by strumming their steel strings to create vibrations. They also come in varying designs. The acoustic guitar will also require a different technique when connecting it to a computer.

Although these guitars may vary, there exists a common ground for a particular type of acoustic guitars. The acoustic guitars with an internal pickup that may accommodate a cable get to use the electric guitars’ method of connecting to the computer.

In simple words, you will get to connect the guitar to an amp, audio interface, or multi-effect pedal. This connection becomes possible through the internal pickup jack. For this reason, these acoustic guitars get referred to as ’electro-acoustic” guitars.

Expert Tip: When connecting the cable, you should use the right jack, as shown in the picture above. The other cable end will connect with the audio interface, multi-effect pedal, or acoustic guitar amp. From there, you will join the USB cable to the computer.

Additionally, you may also connect to a microphone using an audio interface. An audio interface with multiple inputs proves ideal for acoustic guitar users. You will connect several pieces of equipment while connecting the audio interface to your computer.

Did you know that this connection will add to the final recording output? The Focustrite Scarlett will be a perfect example of a multi-input audio interface.

On the other hand, if your guitar has no inbuilt pickup jack, it will require a microphone and an audio interface to succeed in getting your guitar signal into the computer. A multi-input audio interface like the Focustrite Scarlett will be an excellent choice.

This device allows you to connect several microphones and transfer the signals to the computer. This way. your computer will record various guitar signals from different angles. This connection will produce distinctive guitar tones and effects for your music recording.

If you enjoy making tunes while traveling, don’t worry. We also got a solution for you. It might prove challenging to use the audio interface while traveling.

So, consider using the microphone that directly connects the computer. Although I don’t propose you use this often, it might be a helpful temporary solution on vacation.

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio Digital Studio Microphone.

The iRig microphone suits such occasions since it serves a computer, iPhone, Ipad, and Android for a fantastic experience. With this device, you will get your signal on your phone or computer. It serves as a quick fix in areas with limited options.

The iRig device allows for different gadgets, making it the ultimate fast solution to an emerging guitar world. Generally, if you want to learn how to connect your acoustic guitar to your computer, follow through with the following steps.

  • Check your acoustic guitar for possible cable jacks.
  • Choose the jack with three sharp-pointed pin-like structures.
  • Connect your guitar and audio interface, or Amp. or multi-effect pedal using the guitar jack.
  • Connect your computer to the audio interface, multi-effect pedal, or acoustic guitar amp.
  • Select other instruments you need connected to the audio interface and do your guitar recording.
  • If your guitar has no jack, you should:
  • Use a microphone with an audio box to produce a signal for the computer. The microphone records the tones for the audio interface.
  • Connect the audio interface to the computer using a USB cable. You will achieve the ultimate signal recording to your computer.
  • Place several microphones in front of the audio interface, and you will achieve maximum signaling into your computer.
  • For those traveling or at home:
  • Invest in a direct microphone to your computer. iPhone. Ipad. or Android phone. This microphone will transmit the digital signal into these devices, allowing you never to miss an opportunity.

Using a Computer as a Guitar Amp

Using a laptop as amplifier for guitar
Using a laptop as amplifier for guitar.

Did you know that your computer could function as a guitar amp for your guitar tunes? You will, however, use amp and effect modeling software. These programs will render your computer a digital guitar amp that will guarantee you a fantastic recording experience. The Plugins convert your computer into a digital guitar allowing you to record still.

These software programs include:

Guitar Rig 6

Guitar Rig 6 got released in 2020. People had waited for this program for some time, hoping to find the perfect digital amp solution. This program provides a wide range of tones and effects. When using this program for experimental and ambient guitar effects, it proves a fantastic program.

You will need to install this program into your computer as a Plugin. Then use the guitar to work as an input source. From there, select the effect, genre, and finally, the tone. When you play these selections, your computer will function like an amp and still record your sessions.

If you need a more sophisticated guitar amp experience and amp tones, this program will help you get there. You may read about the Plugins guide here and learn more about plugins.

AmpliTube 4

This program forms the most current version of the amp-effects simulation package. In a digital audio workstation (DAW), this program may run as a plugin or a standalone program.

According to the image below, the interface mimics the popular guitar amp.

The program allows you to change settings, use different amp models, change the amp tubes giving you an entirely different taste in the amp tones.

You may also change the effect pedals of the program. This program involves the simulations like:

  • Development of cabinet stimulations.
  • Developing and using rack effects.
  • Set up different microphones
  • Build different tones from scratch
  • Creation of different presets

We highly recommend this feature to upgrade your amp needs.When you use this feature, you will get various amp effects allowing you to control your microphone placement, amp effects, and cabinet

BIAS FX

The Positive Grid brand granted this program a fantastic toning ability producing the best amp model components and a fascinating lead among other Amp developing programs. If you tweak it. you will realize it brings incomparable amp experience that other models couldn’t manage. The positive grid keeps advancing, and the new BIAS FX 2 will get you better results than the original BIAS FX.

The BIAS FX 2 has simple user steps, and it will display amps and effects, forming real-life images of the actual amps and pedals.

Are you looking for a fantastic substitute to your real guitar to record on those tones? The BIAS FX 2 will be the best substitute. The BIAS FX 2 features mimic a real guitar, and no one will tell from your recording that the guitar tones got produced by a program. They will come out excellent.

This program will function as a standalone, or you may download it as a plugin within a DAW. The functioning will determine which version best suits you. If you need to use the program as a guitar amp. the standalone will suit you best. However if you need the program for recording parts of your sessions, you will need to open the program within any DAW.

The Helix Native Program

Do you remember the Helix pedals? If yes, the Helix Native program uses the Helix pedal’s modeling software. This plugin includes effect models, amp plugins, and IRs.

The layout of the lines in this program takes a natural visual approach to the Helix floorboard. You may not tell the difference which makes the program unique and a must-use for many guitarists.

The program also uses moving sliders rather than tweaking knobs. Although it may take a while adapting to the moving sliders, it becomes pretty easy once you get used to them.

Most people get disappointed when they learn you may not use the Helix Native as a standalone program. It only operates as a plugin inside a DAW. For you to use your computer as an amp with Helix Native, connect it with a DAW.

I may not recommend this program over the others since you don’t get to enjoy the standalone version. The Helix Native interface proves challenging to users, especially new ones, compared to using guitar rig 6 or BIAS FX.

Although you may face the above downside, this program produces excellent tones and effects. So you may consider going into the trouble of investing in a DAW. and learning how to navigate the user interface, and getting the best guitar tones and effects into your recording.

Although it might be expensive than the BIAS FX 2. the guitar tones and guitar effects will be worth the extra pricing. This program will be your perfect solution if you need to produce quality guitar tones and guitar effects.

A comprehensive review of Helix Native.

Can I connect my guitar directly to my computer?

As discussed in this article, it may prove challenging to connect your guitar directly to your computer. This connection may not be possible because your computer will not interpret your guitar’s signal unless it becomes a digital signal.

If you directly connect the guitar to the computer using the computer’s input jacks, then the guitar signal doesn’t change. In this case, your computer may not pick up the guitar signals.

To effectively connect your guitar to your computer, you will need a variety of options.

For an electric guitar, you may connect it to the computer using any of the following techniques.

  1. You may use an audio interface
  2. The Multi-effect pedals
  3. By use of a guitar amp

What you do, your plugin in your guitar to the above devices, then use the USB cables to connect the devices to the computer. The machines convert the guitar signal into a digital signal that the computer may function.

So, what if you use the acoustic type of guitar?

Those with an internal pickup jack may connect with the audio interface, multi-effect pedals, or the guitar amp for the acoustic guitar. When this connection becomes successful, you may then connect your computer to the devices using USB cables.

Expert Tip: If your acoustic guitar has no internal pickup jack, you will need a microphone and an audio interface to transfer the guitar signal. A direct microphone to your computer will also help get your guitar signal to your computer. Android. iPhone, or Ipad.

So, you may not connect a guitar directly to your computer. You will need the mediating devices that help convert your guitar signal into a digital signal that your computer may interpret.

Can you plug a guitar into a computer without an interface?

There are other ways you may connect your guitar to your computer if not using the audio interface. You may use a guitar amp, preamp, multi­effect pedals, or direct microphone if you don’t have an interface.

Guitar amp

The guitar amp has plugins at the back of the device. You will need to connect your guitar to the plugins and connect a USB device from the USB port of your computer to the guitar amp. This way the Amp transfers the digital guitar signal to your computer.

Multi-effect pedals

The multi-effect pedals function the same way as the guitar amp. Connecting your guitar to the multi-effect pedal offers a plugin to connect a USB cable to your computer. So. this way. the digital guitar signal will reach your laptop/PC for a perfect recording experience.

The direct microphone

Man recording himself while playing guitar at home
Man recording himself while playing guitar at home.

The direct microphone provides a perfect solution for those recording at home or while traveling. You may not travel with your audio interface, while your guitar may be acoustic. The situation may prevail when you don’t have the audio interface or your guitar has no internal pickup jack.

That doesn’t mean you don’t create tones. Invest in a quality direct microphone that, once you connect to your computer. Ipad. iPhone, or computer, captures your guitar signal and transforms it to a digital signal that your computer may understand.

Conclusion

When recording, it has become essential to have your computer. Since you may not connect instruments like guitars and drums directly to your computer, we need connecting machines. This scenario leaves people wondering how to connect the guitar to a computer. The electric guitar requires a different connecting technique than the acoustic guitar.

Whatever guitar you may be using, this article has brought to you the various ways you may connect your guitar to your computer. You should also consider the quality of recording you need to invest in the connection options. Other than connecting using connecting devices you may decide to use computer programs that bring out the best guitar experience.

Feel free to ask a question in the comment section.

About Maggie Holding

Hello! My name is Maggie and I am a proud Editor/Author for PlayTheTunes. Coming From South Carolina, USA, my whole life I've sang and played the guitar and flute! I love music with a passion, and am ecstatic to help others in their own music journey!