So I want to make some guitar covers and need a way to record my playing. I've set my multi-effect board and amp up so that I have the sound I want coming from the amp, I just need a way to get it on the computer. I had the idea of just using my phone's voice recording app and I got the following sound:


The only problem is the acoustics of the room doesn't do any wonders for the sound and you can hear me strum the actual guitar. I then decided to use Garageband because of the built in metronome and the ability to record my guitar and hear it at the same time. So I used an auxiliary cable and plugged my amp into my mac mini and got this recording:


It sounds a lot more compressed and noisy and has no bass or mid tones to it. Is there any way to record my guitar/amp on a computer with it sounding the same as it does in real life? Are my settings on my amp, multi-effect board, or in garageband messed up somehow? (I can't really afford audio interfaces or microphones that cost over $50 as I'm just a high school student with a hobby)

  • 1
    How are you connecting? Before I had an audio interface I plugged in the headphone out of a guitar pedal to the line in of my computer and it wasn't horrible. Also iRig might be worth a look if you have an iPhone/Pad ikmultimedia.com/products/irig
    – charlie
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 2:30
  • 1
    possible duplicate of How do I connect my musical instrument to a computer?
    – Dave
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 3:39
  • There is some overlap, but this is a bit more specific to hooking up an amp/guitar without an interface. It's a pretty common question.
    – charlie
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 5:06

2 Answers 2


More details about the output connections available on your amp and pedals would help, but in the meantime I have a couple suggestions:

Most multi-effects pedals have a headphone out, or even a line out, both of which could be connected directly to your Mac Mini (from looking at the specs, it looks like your Mac has a 3.5mm stereo line input). In this case you would likely need a stereo 1/4" to stereo 3.5mm cable to connect the pedal output directly to the computer (usually headphone/line outs on pedals are 1/4", but some are 3.5mm, be sure to confirm on yours). This should produce decent results for simple recording and getting some ideas down.

Next option is using the amp's line out, or direct out, which not all amps have. If your amp does have one, it is probably mono but you can still connect it to your Mac line in with a similar cable. The benefit of using the pedal instead of the amp is that you will likely get a stereo signal from a pedal, which can add some dimension to your recorded sound depending on how good your pedal is.

While you mentioned you don't want to spend a lot of money an interface, there are a couple options you still have. Behringer makes a USB guitar interface which would take your guitar signal straight to your computer. They also have a standard USB interface which would be better if you want to use signal from the amp or pedal. (for that one you would likely need some sort of 1/4" to RCA cable to connect amp/pedal to that particular interface).

Finally as I mentioned in the comments, there is the IK Multimedia iRig, which you plug your guitar into and connects it to your iPhone/Pad. I've heard great things about this particular option, especially because it comes with effects and amp models built in, so you don't have to worry about connecting your pedals or amp but you can still get a wide variety of decent tones.

Again, this all depends on what kind of outputs your amp and your pedal support, so more info on what gear you are using will help narrow this down.

Edit: since you've got a GT-6, that would probably be the simplest way to connect to the computer because it has built in amp and speaker modeling. You want to use the pedal's left/right output going to the Mac's input. For this you should use a dual 1/4" mono > 3.5mm stereo cable to get both left and right channels of your pedal to your computer. You're going to have to mess around with the output level knob next to the output jacks to get an ideal signal. Also you might be able to use the digital out because the Mac Mini also accepts digital audio input. Not 100% sure on compatibility though.

Here is some great info on the subject:

Recording Electric Guitar with PC / GT-6

Recording guitar through Boss GT-6 into Soundcard

Your best sounding option is going to be to mic the amp through an audio interface. But if you don't want to invest in that setup you are going to have to carefully edit the patches on the GT-6 to make sure they sound good on their own (use headphones). There is one more option, you can record the guitar dry (through pedal to Mac), and use free VST guitar amps/effects to get a great sound.

  • I'm using the amps "headphone out" port to connect it my computer and using a simple 1/4" to 3.5mm converter pin. I've tried connecting my pedal directly but get an even worse sound because now the amp is contributing to the sound
    – rcplusplus
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 14:02
  • Line out or direct out will always be better if you have the option.. which output are you using to connect the pedal directly? Bottom line is none of these options are going to sound pristine until you get some sort of interface.
    – charlie
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 16:45
  • I see from above comments it's a GT6. It's a good pedal, I actually just played one and its got decent amp modeling built in, so GT6 direct to the computer would be my first choice. Anyway, I edited my answer to add some more links/info.
    – charlie
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 17:21

The second sound sample sounds like you recorded the line out of your amp. Guitar amp speakers (and cabinets) are not hi-fi, they change the sound tremendously, it is part of the guitar sound. Amp line outs generally have a very simplistic speaker simulation that sound like your second recording. Most of them are not suitable for good recording.

I don't have any idea about phone mics of today but you may try to play at a higher volume and keep your phone closer to the amp speaker to avoid the acoustic sound of your strumming to spill on the recording. Later you can buy a cheap Shure SM-57 and a mic preamp to get (probably) better sound. Most amps sound better when you turn the volume up anyway.

If your effects processor has reasonable amp and speaker simulation (most have it nowadays), you may try to record the line output of your processor. For high gain stuff, most amp sims achieve reasonably good tones.

If you tell us more about your rig, I'm sure we can come up with more alternatives.

  • My multieffects processor is a Boss GT-6 and connecting that directly to the computer more or less gets the same type of sound. My amp is a Fender Frontman 25R and yeah I'm using the "Headphones out" port to connect it to my computer.
    – rcplusplus
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 13:58
  • I second the approach of using your phone to record the amp speaker. I use a free "Tape Recorder" app. I've used it for more than 5 years. I even recorded live concerts with it, and they have come out well. The good part about using it with your amp speaker is that you don't even need to turn the amp up very loud at all - just place the phone close to the amp. Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 1:58

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