Recording guitar --> pc sound quality


Turn up the volume very loud to really hear the minutiae of this recording. I want to get rid of that terrible background noise! I’m new to this and it seems like this is a rudimentary question that many people ask. I would appreciate help, so please ask me to provide any further information:

Using windows 7, audacity beta version, guitar to pc direct connection. I bought a 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter for this purpose. Thanks very much!

Rather than give you a lecture about impedance matching and pre-amps, I’ll cut to the chase.

One way or another you need an electronic gadget which goes between your guitar and your computer,
My suggestion would be this type of device which plugs into the USB socket …

similar products …

Thanks for your help!

Judging by what you wrote, it seems there is a lot of associated information to know in order to properly understand the purpose of this device. Would you happen to have any sources for me to read up this info?

Aside wikipedia. Their prose is atrocious and needlessly complex unless you are familiar with the jargon which at that point you should know the content of the article anyway…

You don’t have to understand about “impedance matching” to use the USB-to-guitar device.

Poor impedance matching is why your guitar sound is weak and very noisy, if you don’t want to go via USB but via analog inputs on your computer (“line-in”) , then you need a guitar “pre-amp” device , google “guitar pre-amp”, or direct inject box.

Personally I’d go for a USB device, (one with headphone monitor so you don’t have delay problems), the USB doesn’t need a battery (DI box / pre-amp would) and the sound quality via USB may be superior to going via your computer’s analog inputs if your computer has a cheapo sound card.

There are many USB sound cards that have 1/4" jack inputs that are specifically designed for plugging in a guitar. For example the Cakewalk UA-1G - USB Audio Interface

By actual measurement on an actual hard-body electric guitar, I found that my particular instrument (or the Flame Artist who actually owned it) was able to produce good quality, almost line level recordings with no more electronics than a Stereo Line-In connection and an interconnect cable. Something like 1/4" mono to 1/8" mono or stereo.

I am to understand that my experience is pretty common. A good way to generate overloading and crashing distortion is to plug your axe into a delicate, sensitive Microphone Input. That is a serious mismatch.

So. If your guitar is noisy (but not overloading or clipping) then I would lay that at the feet of your sound card. Nobody is giving any of them awards for high quality audio – unless you’re on a Mac or paid extra for your sound system – which works out to the same thing.

Most people walk in with their NetBook or Windows laptop and try to record a music presentation. Few succeed.

This is where I post the connection and sound I made, but it’s too late in Los Angeles. I’ll see if the owner/guitarist is here tomorrow.


I bribed the editor into doing a solo for me on his Ivanez solid-body guitar. No amp. It’s him, a 1/4" to 1/8" cable and my MacBook Pro with Stereo Line-In. I trimmed the Right channel from the performance since it’s not used. The show is mono. It’s literally walk in from the hall (interrupt what he’s doing), plug in, press record, and perform. Stop.

Trim the Right channel and post the file.

There’s a segment of silence at the end. You do not need an amp to record an electric guitar with a competent computer Line-In. The Audacity volume control wasn’t even turned all the way up – and the performer wasn’t blasting.


Yes steve, there are a lot out there in fact I have two of them one is mine and the other is for my brother.

I am dithering between buying an [Advert Removed] Epiphone Les Paul Studio and a Gibson Les Paul Studio. I will mainly be using it to record direct to my PC rather than use it for any live work. Do I have to find the extra cash and buy the Gibson. Most people could never hear the difference but I’m not sure how different it will be when I start recording.

What should i do If I connect my guitar to my computer and i can record my guitar playing but I cannot hear it as I play,?Thanks for this website it helps a lot of me…

I think that all of the devices mentioned in this topic can do that.
What equipment are you currently using?
What operating system and which version of Audacity?

Most people could never hear the difference but I’m not sure how different it will be when I start recording.

The only difference would be the technology behind the electromagnetic pickups under the strings. Some buck hum better than others and some have tone controls and do volume control better. The only way to resolve this is to listen to both before you put down your credit card. Do the test on one amplifier and pick the guitar that sounds best and has the best control. If you can do the test into your computer, so much the better.

The only thing that goes down the cable is the vibrating string interacting with the pickup. Nothing else matters to the quality of sound. You may find that one instrument is easier to handle and play than the other. If they sound the same, pick the easier one.

A very large portion of the guitar sound is the cabinet and amplifier. I recently installed new tubes in a very old amplifier for one of the musicians at work. It was a whole new world. Same guitar. You won’t have any of those problems.