Recording electric guitar

Hey, everyone.

I just downloaded Audacity 2.0.5. I’m very new to this recording software, so please bear with me. I plugged my guitar into the line-in port of the computer with an audio converter adapter. When I record and strum it, the waves ain’t moving at the top. I’m sure I’m missing something. Can anyone please help me?


Choose the input you are connected to in the third box of Device Toolbar .

Also see this helpful information if you have not done so already: .


"Choose the input you are connected to in the third box of Device Toolbar . "

That’s what I was trying to do.

“Also see this helpful information if you have not done so already: .”

I was looking, but I looked in the wrong place.

Thanks for the help, Gale. I really appreciate it. If I still have issues, I will reply back again.

If the signal isn’t too weak, you can use the Amplify effect to bring it up.

You generally don’t want your peaks to hit 0dB (the “digital maximum”) while recording because you’ll rorbably go-over and get clipping* (distorted flat-topped waves).* When recording “live”, it’s hard to predict how loud the highest peak will be, so it’s common practice to allow 3-6dB of “headroom”.

When you run the Amplify effect, it will default to the amount of gain required to hit 0dB. If the adjustment is less than 9-12dB, you should still be OK. (Adjusting the volume 'so the peaks hit 0dB is called “normalizing”.)

Although you can make it “work”, a soundcard isn’t a good way to record a guitar. The impedance and sensitivity are not the same as a guitar input, and the “tone” won’t be quite right. An interface such as [u]Berhinger UGC102[/u] is a better option, or there are all kinds of higher-end guitar interfaces.

Another issue is that the amplifier & speaker cabinet are “part of the instrument” and they contribute to a sound. The “pure tone” from a guitar plugged into a hi-fi amplifier or PA system usually doesn’t “sound right”.

There are two ways that professionals record electric guitar. Often, they use a microphone in front of the guitar amplifier (the Shure SM57 is popular for this). Note that you can’t plug a performance/studio microphone into a soundcard either. All good microphones are low-impedance balanced with XLR connectors, and studio condensers require phantom power. So, you also need an audio interface if you are going to record from a mic.

The other technique is to record direct through an interface and use amplifier/cabinet simulation software (usually called a “sim”). Or, pros often record direct,and with a microphone at the same time. The Behringer guitar-USB interface comes with simulation software, and you can find lots of other simulation software if you want a different sound.

Recording through an amp or using an amp simulator will also tend to make it sound “louder” than the pure tone (with the same 0dB peaks).


  • Guitar amplifiers are designed to distort in pleasing ways. Digital “hard” clipping is generally undesirable.

And an associated note: When you try to record the cabinet, you’re also recording the room it’s in. So it’s going to sound like your Steve Linn® cabinet plus your Continental Homes® garage.


A quick restart might do the trick.