How to record guitar (or bass) on the computer?

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How to record guitar (or bass) on the computer?

Postby (Becky) » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:02 pm

This is so ridiculously simple a subject to many of you I know, so you can have a wee laugh at my ignorance – but I really need something better than my Logitech webcam for making recordings. The video side isn't (that) bad, but as for the audio? Good heavens no, it's much too sensitive, and is prone to clipping horribly on certain notes. So, what equipment are you all using to make your recordings on the computer?

I have my basses, my old Roland synth, my positively ancient Yamaha amp, an occasional Boss chorus pedal, and my Mac Mini. So nothing terribly fancy anywhere in that setup, and certainly no opportunities to add a sound input card. I also never ever bought an effects box, or an amp with pre-amp out, or anything with Line 6 written on it. I just plug in and bash away. As far as I can see, there are a few different options that involve spending more or less money, but they all seem to revolve around an interface of one type or another.

  • - An XLR or phantom powered microphone in front of my amp would capture more of the sound I'm familiar with, but would need some sort of audio interface. Are there USB condenser or dynamic mics that can go directly into the computer?
  • - DI to an audio interface box. The same as above, otherwise? My Wal of course has a balanced XLR output built in (which I've never used), but the other two are good old quarter-inch.
  • - Guitar interface, like an M-Audio box that USBs into the computer? Presumably you could plug a mic into it as well?

Something that handles MIDI would be useful so that I could dump via sysex into my synth. Something that does some overdrive effects (or perhaps more usefully, amp simulation) would be nice, too; I saw someone on YouTube putting a 4001 through a Bass Pod XT Pro and it sounded pretty darn good.

I have Audacity on the computer and that works quite well for the recording side of things, but I'm open to ideas there too.
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Re: How to record guitar (or bass) on the computer?

Postby (antipodean) » Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:08 pm

I've been using a Pod X3 Live through a cheap Behringer mixer into an ancient (but incredibly low latency) Steinberg I/O card for bass and guitar. My brother uses an X3 Live as his main interface (via USB) for bass, guitar and vocals, and is extremely happy with its performance. Some of his published work using the X3 can be found here. My own demo-quality results have been pretty pleasing, often sounding far better than anything I can achieve through an amp.

The number of options on the X3 can be overwhelming, but by the same token there are a huge number of usable tones if you're happy to dig around. The mic input does not support phantom power, so you'd need a power box if you wanted to use a condenser mic and one of the mic preamp models when recording using your amp.

The X3 has also been pressed into service on those rare occasions when I've been lucky enough to play at a venue with a decent FOH system, allowing me to leave the amp and cabinets at home. It really shines in this application.

I've seen these on ebay from around USD200.
"I don't want to sound incredulous but I can't believe it" Rex Mossop
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Re: How to record guitar (or bass) on the computer?

Postby (Grey) » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:07 pm

I've never been particularly happy with Direct Input. There are high-end modeling units out there like Kemper or Axe-FX that have sophisticated cab simulation which can produce seriously impressive results with minimal effort, but these are units that cost thousands of dollars. Personally I use a pair of SM57 dynamic mic's though a Mackie 2x12 USB mic-pre, though i'm looking at replacing the Mackie with a Focusrite interface.

I also like this setup because a DI box or a modeler does me no good when it comes to my acoustic guitars.
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