Sunday, May 07, 2006

How To Plug A Guitar Or Bass Into A Computer

By: Jon Broderick

Every town throughout the world has one or two fully dedicated
aspiring guitarists and bassists. These disciplined folks spend
countless hours improving their craft. Their local musician
community is made up of a small group of less-dedicated folks
and people with divergent tastes in music. To the truly
passionate musician, sometimes this can be frustrating. The
dedicated guitarists and bassists of these communities have
often surpassed the ability of local teachers, and are thus on
their own following their musical heroes. Although guitar tab
books and guitar lesson DVDs help, trial and error becomes the
primary method.

If you are one such individual, there is a musician resource
that you may have overlooked: the Internet. Now, please don't
misunderstand. I know that you have already found out about the
internet. You use the internet every day and you have probably
found countless guitar tab sites, guitar lesson sites, band
classified sites and the like. You have learned a lot on the
internet. Your eyes have found the Internet, but has your music?

When you connect your instrument to your computer, you connect
your music to the rest of the worldwide community of musicians.
Out there on the internet, unlike in your home town, are many
many people just like you, who want to hear your music. They are
as dedicated as you, they are into the same music, they are your
peers without question, and they want to hear what you are
working on.

This article teaches you how to plug your guitar or bass right
into your computer, to start sharing your musical ability with
the world-wide internet music community. We are assuming that
you have an electric guitar, bass guitar, or acoustic guitar
with a pickup.


Turn your computer around and look at the back of it. You should
see a walkman-style mini headphone jack in one of the shiny
steel plates back there. Actually, you should see 3 mini jacks.
If you look closely, they have little etched pictures next to
them. One is a picture of a mic, one is a picture of headphones,
and the other some picture you don't know what it is. The one
that is not mic and not headphones is the line-in jack. Your
guitar has a 1/4 inch cable that is too big to fit into this
mini headphone jack. So, you will need an adapter that will
convert the quarter inch jack to a mini jack. You can find this
sort of adapter at your local electronics shop. In the U.S.,
Radio Shack is your best bet.

The following are three scenarios that describe how to plug your
instrument into your computer.

Average Situation

Here's the deal: your guitar is supposed to plug into the
line-in jack. But your guitar is not loud enough to play direct
into a line-in. So you have to put an effects pedal with a
volume control in between the PC and your guitar. That way you
can give your guitar enough of a volume boost to hear it well on
your PC.

Poor Situation

If you don't have an effects pedal, or something else to give
your guitar a slight volume boost, then the line-in method won't
work. Your guitar will be too quiet. If this is the case, you
will need to plug your guitar into the mic jack instead. The
guitar is too loud for a mic jack. So, you will have to turn the
guitar down for it to record properly. Even then, it won't sound
too good. Computer mic jacks just don't sound good. But, it

Ideal Situation

Ideally, here is what you want to do: get a mixer, plug your
guitar into your amp, mic the amp in a sound-proof room. Turn it
up really loud. Mix your effects into the signal at the mixer,
and plug the mixer line out into the line in of your computer.
If you have all the equipment for this, then I would suggest you
get one more item: a studio-quality audio card. These cards have
improved circuitry and software that will significantly improve
the sound of your records and the flexibility of your system.

I hope this article has been helpful to you and that your music
inspires and fulfills you throughout a long and happy career. I
also hope that you will join a musician community on the
internet and get as much satisfaction out of it as I have.

About the author:
Jon Broderick is a guitarist from California who has been an
online musician since 1998. You can find Jon featured in online
Music Competitions and
online Guitar Lessons
at major music websites.

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