Connecting your guitar to a computer gives you the option to record as you play and experiment with several effects, plugins, and amp simulators. The good news is that there are several ways to connect a guitar to a computer, irrespective of whether you have an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. So, how do you plug a guitar into a computer?
The most common and recommended way to connect a guitar to a computer is through an audio interface known as a soundcard. You can connect the guitar directly to your computer via USB or audio jack with the proper cables.
Note that how you connect your guitar to your computer significantly influences the sound quality. Although, you don’t compulsorily need to spend thousands of dollars to plug in a guitar to a computer to get a good sound quality.
Keep reading to learn about the different ways to connect a guitar to a computer and their ups and downs.
Different Ways To Plug a Guitar Into a Computer
If you have an electric guitar, connecting it to a computer is quite straightforward. However, if you want to record an acoustic guitar on a computer, you would need a microphone. Note that there are different types of microphones, and some can be plugged directly into a computer, while some require an amplifier.
If you are fortunate to have one of those semi-acoustic guitars with a computer component, you can easily plug it into your computer directly. Some electric guitars even let you plug the guitar directly into your computer. Whatever the case, there is always a way to plug any guitar into a computer.
Below, we look at three ways to plug a guitar into a computer.
Method #1: Direct Audio in Connection
One of the first methods you want to consider using is direct audio in connection. This method essentially utilizes a standard ¼-inch male to 1/8-inch female adapter. This adapter has a guitar standard plug on one end and a port you can plug in a regular headphone plug. Getting this adapter is cheap and can easily be ordered online or purchased in a local store.
Here’s how to plug a guitar into a computer using direct audio in connection.
- Get the ¼-inch male to 1/8-inch female audio jack adapter and a regular 1/8-inch male to a 1/8-inch male headphone jack.
- Plug the headphone jack on the end of the adapter with the 1/8-inch female port.
- Plug the adapter’s other end (1/4-inch) into your guitar.
- Plug the 1/8-inch male headphone jack into your computer and then use a DAW to record or listen to your guitar on your computer.
This method is straightforward; sadly, it does not produce the best sound quality.
Method #2: USB Guitar Link Jack
Another way to plug your guitar into a computer is with the USB guitar link jack adapter. For this method, you will need a USB guitar link adapter and a 1/8-inch headphone jack to a ¼-inch guitar plug. The USB guitar link jack adapter has a USB-A on one of its ends and a female 1.8-inch audio port on its other. The cable has a headphone jack on one end and a guitar plug on the other. So, purchase this adapter from any online or local store near you.
Here’s how to plug a guitar into a computer using a USB guitar link jack.
- Purchase the USB guitar link jack and a 1/8-inch headphone jack wire.
- Plug the USB-A end of the adapter into your computer.
- Plug the 1/8-inch headphone jack end of the cable to the female 1/8-inch audio port of the adapter.
- The ¼-inch end of the cable would then go to your guitar, and then you can use a DAW to record and listen to your guitar on your computer.
Using this method to plug your guitar offers better sound quality, but it isn’t precisely the best.
Method #3: Guitar ¼ Jack Cable to the USB Soundcard
Finally, the most common and recommended way to connect your guitar to a computer is through a soundcard. Using this method is a bit more expensive but worth every penny. The best part about using this method is that it works on every guitar, whether you have a mini amplifier on your guitar or not.
Here’s how to plug a guitar into a computer using a soundcard.
- Get a soundcard and plug it into a power source.
- Connect the soundcard to your computer via a USB-A to USB-A cable.
- Plug your guitar into the soundcard using the ¼-inch guitar plug cable.
Connecting your guitar to a soundcard and a computer will give you the best sound quality.
As you can see from this guide, there are several ways to connect your guitar to a computer. Depending on your preference when it comes to sound quality, how much you end up spending can be low or high. But in all, it is possible to connect your guitar to a computer, and using the different DAW software, you can record high-quality sound from your guitar.