So, I want to connect a guitar to a mac and know squat...

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by egor, Sep 4, 2004.

  1. egor macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2004
    Okay, first of all, I haven't got a mac anymore, I'll prolly get one at somepoint...

    Secondly, I can't play guitar, but would like to, but don't want to buy an amp too...

    I basically just want to learn guitar using the computer as the amp...

    I don't actually know how any of this works... I'm clueless... whee!

    So, here's my question, to connect a guitar to a mac, what does one need? And just out of interest, is it the same with a pc? Cos pickles with PCs I constantly see people saying they lose sound quality and so forth and have to use an amp or something... can one plug the guitar directly into the computer or would that blow the soundcard up?

    Hmm. I've got many questions.

    This little thing has also got me puzzled, it looks like what I'd need, but again, would I need an amp too? I thought electric guitars produced a very low signal or whatever you call it... but what I've read it seems to be saying that you can connect your guitar directly to your mac... here's the little dude


    So, basically, I'm confuzzled, I've got conflicting information, some saying I need an amp... and then I see these preamps? Do I need a preamp? I know what a preamp does... but I'm very dizzy thinking about all of this...

    Yes, what do I need, then?

  2. vollspacken macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2002
    Boogie-Down Berlintown
    I don't know what your problem is but just get a cheap practice amp for amplifying your guitar and later when you'd like to do some recording stuff, get a small pre-amp that you can plug into the mac line-in...

    ...BTW this is the exact thing you would do on a PeeCee, too..!

  3. egor thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2004
    Thanks, thats all I needed to know... I'm not quite sure what that cable was for then?!? Its just I've been reading how the recording quality will be crap etc. and I don't want to buy an amp and so forth... so, all in all, its just a preamp (and a guitar...) that I'll need. THANKS!
  4. Bruce Lee, PhD macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2004
    well, the first thing to know is that people use the word 'amp' and 'preamp' in a couple of different ways, depending on context.

    in general, a preamp is a device which brings a weak signal (like a guitar or microphone's output) up to a level that the rest of your gear can use. they vary in cost from well under $100 to many thousands of dollars.

    on the other hand, when guitarists are talking about guitar preamps, they mean a bit more than just a normal preamp; a guitar preamp usually includes distortion, eq, and maybe some effects like reverb. guitar preamps are the first part of a guitar amp (aka 'combo' amp), but are also sold as standalone units (e.g. for a rack setup).

    so for example, when you connect a microphone to a mixer, the first bit of circuitry your mic signal hits is a preamp, to bring the signal to a level the rest of the board can use. the preamp doesn't generally change the tone, it just boosts the level a little. to plug your guitar into your mac, you probably want a preamp which digitizes the signal and sends it out a USB output. there are a bunch on the market and i'm sure someone here can recommend one. then on your mac, you can use an amp simulator like line6 amp farm or garage band's built-in amp simuations to shape the tone. a guitar amp consists of a preamp (in the guitarist's sense) and a power amp. the power amp is the last part of the circuit before the speaker and boosts the signal to a high enough level to drive the speaker. the amp simulator will simulate the guitar preamp, the guitar power amp, and the speaker; the result is that things sound more-or-less like a guitar being played through a real amp.

    if you're just messing around, you can plug your guitar right into a mac (at least you can on my powerbook) using a cable like the one you showed. the guitar's level is low so the sound isn't great, but it actually works well enough that if you don't want to spend money this will get you started. otherwise, just buy an inexpensive preamp and you're in good shape.
  5. egor thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2004
    Well, that certainly clears alot of things up, no wonder I was getting conflicting information!

    This is basically just egor's big thankyou post. So, thanks!

    Whee, I'm gonna learn to play a guitar, or attempt to :D (when I have the cash...)

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