recording guitar on my mac with an amp

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by rdeckert, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. rdeckert macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    I'm trying to use my amp to record on my Macbook.
    I am recording using Garageband '08 and Pro Logic 8. I have some questions regarding how to and even if I can.

    I am playing on my stratocaster. I own a Yamaha T-150 (blah). It puts out 50W. I know that using an amp can fry out an audio interface let alone your computer I've heard. I've heard of people mostly using little 10W practice amps to record onto their macbooks.

    1. Is 50W to much for my macbook?

    2. Would I just start at 0 volume on the amp and work my way up slowly? ( The audio meters are what I should keep my eye on to make sure they don't red-line to much, right?)

    3. Would I plug my amp in to my mac from the headphone, line-out, or speaker output?

    4. I've heard that you need to record dry in order to properly use any of Garageband's guitar effects (such as distortion). In order to record dry, to I plug in from the headphone, line-out, or speaker output on my amp?

    5. Should I use my iMic or just plug straight into the mac's line-out?

  2. agmetal macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    1., 2., & 3. YES, 50W is WAAAAY too much. The Yamaha T-50 is a tube amp designed by Mike Soldano, and you should NEVER use the speaker output (especially of a tube amp) for anything other than speakers or a load box designed specifically for that purpose. You can do serious damage to both the amp and the computer. If your amp has a line out, you could do that, but it won't sound good unless you have a decent speaker sim of some sort.

    4. If you want to record dry, you would skip the amp entirely...just plug the guitar directly into the computer's line in.

    5. Using a mic would be better than the line out from an amp to the line in on the computer (unless of course, you're using a digital amp of some sort, like a Line 6).

    I've always used a PreSonus TUBEPre as a mic preamp/DI box connected to my line in (although a USB or FW interface would be preferable), and then used a real mic (such as a Shure SM57 or Sennheiser e609) on the amp's speaker. Much safer than using your amp's speaker output (always a bad idea), and will usually sound better than the amp's line out.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Don't use the amp at all.

    You will get the best result if you buy an audio interface that has a "instrument level" input. This will be a high impedance device that will not suck the tone out of the guitar. Guitars have quite a bit of voltage swing but very little power. Guitars are not good matches to either line in or mic in.

    No money to buy more gear? Ok, then try plugging the guitar directly in the computer's "Line In" jack (not a mic level and certainly not Line out) The Griffen iMic could also be used but it is no bette quality then what's built into the Mac. People use the iMic on Macs that lack the audo ports. That's about the only reason for you to bother with the iMic, if your Mac lacks a Line In. Ok now that you are plugge in adjust the gain setting on the poert using the audio-midi setup app and the volume control on the guitar

    Eventually you will want to buy an audio interface with a high impedance instrument input and some LEDs to show the level
  4. Frozonecold macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2005
    Out of curiosity if I had one of these audio interfaces would I be able to use the computer as an amp?
  5. NoSmokingBandit macrumors 68000


    Apr 13, 2008
    DO NOT plug your amp into your macbook. For several reason, the first being that it will kill your line input, the second is that it will sound like *****.

    Save up and get a mic if you are serious about recording a lot. Meanwhile plug your guitar directly into the line-in of your macbook and record that way, adding amplifier models in the effects chain. It wont sound great, but you arent going to get a really good sound without a mic.
  6. agmetal macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    If you had a software amp simulator, then yes, you could. It wouldn't be useful for much other than practice and recording, though. That said, I have used my computer as an "amp" to work with friends on learning parts for songs....but never with a drummer. Only guitar, bass, and backing tracks.
  7. NeuralControl macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2009
    Do you mean if you can use your computer as a pre-amp like device? You can do that, but do not expect impeccable quality. This past weekend I jammed at a buddy's house and did not bring an amp. However, I had my guitar, 1/4 - 1/8 cable, and an RCA Y cable to plug into his speak system. Over all, it worked well. We were able to play to some loops/songs I had been working on. I wouldn't suggest it for a gig, though. It's a great solution if you are jamming or working out the parts to a song.
  8. rdeckert thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2008
    Okay, so no amp. What about plugging into the line-in using a distortion pedal? I own a Boss Mega Distortion pedal. Would that work alright for creating distortion through Logic? I've tried using different effects to create a good distortion, but I can't make it sound "real" enough.
  9. NeuralControl macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2009
    If you're set on using your distortion pedal, make sure you are going through an interface, and not directly from your guitar's output jack to the line-in on your Mac. I highly suggest you take a look at the Guitar Rig software. It is highly customizable/adjustable and produces fantastic tones. It works flawlessly with Logic.
  10. Frozonecold macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2005
    I meant that if my amp was elsewhere, would I be able to connect the guitar to an audio interface, and then use the speakers attached to the computer as an amp.
  11. NeuralControl macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2009
    Yes, technically you can do that.

Share This Page