To use an electric guitar with GarageBand, is a USB cable necessary?

  • 1
    It would help if you supplied more information about the guitar or how you would else connect it. Furthermore, if you like I can migrate the question to guitars.stackexchange.com if it fails to get a clear answer here
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 12, 2011 at 21:18
  • I don't know much about the guitar because I am considering buying several different kinds of electric guitars. I am also starting to lean more towards getting an iAXE393 which is a USB guitar.
    – Anonymous
    Mar 12, 2011 at 23:44
  • 1
    I'm migrating your question to guitars.SE, but I recommend you edit your question to focus on what kind of tools you need to hook up a guitar to a computer
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 13, 2011 at 0:04
  • @z-buffer - You also may get answers to Garageband-specific questions on audio.SE, but you'll need to provide more information than this. Mar 13, 2011 at 6:38
  • Getting a USB guitar will be very restrictive if you want to record another guitar, bass, vocals, etc. A good audio interface second hand will probably be less than the premium of an iAXE. Feb 26, 2015 at 11:52

3 Answers 3


An electric guitar produces an analogue audio signal which passes through an amplifier and out to speakers.

To connect the guitar to a computer you will have to link it with an analogue cable either direct from the guitar's output jack and into the computer's microphone socket, or into an amplifier then from the amplifier's line out socket into the computer's line in socket. DO NOT connect the line out into the microphone, or the speaker out into the computer in any way at all, or you may well damage your soundcard.

Be warned - connecting the guitar to the microphone socket will probably give quite ropey results. If you are hoping to create something of any reasonable quality you would be best off investing in a decent sound-input device (most of which are USB).

Personally I use one of these: http://www.ionaudioshop.co.uk/ion-u-record-mixmeister/ which I connect my small mixing desk to. They do alot of other similar devices too.

  • Can you give an example of such a device?
    – Anonymous
    Mar 12, 2011 at 23:21
  • Sure. Check the upcomin edit.
    – Matt Jenkins
    Mar 12, 2011 at 23:42
  • A good answer to a sketchy question. Whether you can just plug your guitar into your audio interface depends on the interface; my M-Audio FW800 handles guitar inputs quite well, but when I was using a USB interface, I used a Pod amp modeler on the tube preamp setting in between the guitar and the interface, even when I was using software amps in Garageband. A DI box may also give good results. Mar 13, 2011 at 6:42
  • DI boxes are best for making an amplified signal into one that is safe for a standard line in. This will let you run the guitar through pedals before plugging into a standard line in jack on a computer (though this will typically require an adapter to a 1/8" connector, and probable reduction in sound quality versus a USB sound card capable of accepting amplified signals on a 1/4" connection). For one on a budget though, it is an excellent option.
    – MaQleod
    Mar 13, 2011 at 6:56

No as long as you have a Line in port on your computer you can connect your guitar directly to it. This wont give you a very nice sound but it works. It works even better if you have a little preamp in between to boost the signal.

On the computer you can use for example guitarrig or guitarfx to get cool sounds. This should be enough for an easy quick recording.(which I guess is what you are going to do since you are using garageband)

Of course a good audio interface,with firewire/USB will give much better results but it can be done without one as long as you have the line in port.


One of the best series of devices for instrumental inputs for the computer are the Emu line made by Creative. You would be fine with the cheapest models for beginning any sort of audio recordings using a guitar. A good starting point is the 0202 USB.

  • I should also mention the option of a firewire soundboard, but I am not sure if Garageband will be able to make use of it. The Alesis model comes with Cubase though (www.alesis.com/multimix8firewire). There is also a USB version available (www.alesis.com/multimix8usb20)
    – MaQleod
    Mar 13, 2011 at 7:00
  • Sure, GarageBand can use a Firewire sound card
    – slim
    Sep 20, 2011 at 14:50

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