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I was planning to record months ago, with my electric guitar, and yesterday I got myself a guitar rig software and bought some 1/4 to 1/8 adapter jack so that I can plug in unto my laptop's mic hole.

Whenever I plug my guitar cable to the 1/4 to 1/8 adapter then to the laptop I can't hear any sound (past the clicking sound you hear) but when I plug the cable almost halfway of the adapter's body (before the clicking sound) I can hear sound when I play and there's some loud buzzing sound involved.

Any explanations as to why this is happening?

  • While it's fun to hook stuff together, may I recommend reading up a little bit about electricity: impedance matching, voltage levels, ground connections, etc. ? It'll make things easier as you go along. – Carl Witthoft Nov 16 '14 at 13:24
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You can't just use an adapter to plug your guitar directly into your laptop -- the laptop's sound card is expecting either mic-level or line-level sound, whereas your guitar is a very high impedance signal coming in at a very low level (particularly if your pickups are passive).

It's possible that your adapter is just faulty, but it's far more likely that you will need a special interface to use with your guitar. There are countless options, but for the most basic setup you would just want to google USB guitar cable. They're pretty cheap.

  • thanks bro. Additional question, I have an guitar amplifier here, is it possible to plug it into my laptop then record the sound that it produces? – user3736846 Nov 16 '14 at 6:30
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    It really depends on your specific equipment. You need to figure out if your laptop input is mic level or line level, and if your amp has an appropriate output--this would usually be marked "DI Out", and you may need to consult your manual to find out what level it is at. Be very careful with those 1/4" jacks--the same type of cable is occasionally even used to power speakers, and you don't want to go and fry your laptop by accident. – NReilingh Nov 16 '14 at 6:55
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when I plug the cable almost halfway of the adapter's body I can hear sound when I play

Sounds like (haw!) a mono-to-stereo problem. Look at the 1/4 inch plug. How many parts? The tip connector and the sleeve right behind the tip? Now look at the 1/8 inch plug. Two sleeves?

If yes, you are shorting out one of the channels. Go back to the shop and look for a 1/4 mono to 1/8 stereo adapter, preferably with a short cord to take the load off the laptop's input.

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    +1 -- This is much more likely than the adapter being faulty. You still have the problem of instrument level->mic/line level, though. – NReilingh Nov 16 '14 at 18:46
  • Agreed, this is probably the issue. All of this said, it's likely best to purchase an audio interface. – lunchmeat317 Nov 16 '14 at 20:38
  • I have both mono (i guess) because my cord and adapter both have 1 black strip on the tip. – user3736846 Dec 1 '14 at 10:50
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If you want to record better sounding guitar tracks, getting an audio interface is the way to go, as others have mentioned. You also want to think about shielding, interference, and turning off electrically noisy overhead lights.

However, to say "You can't just use an adapter to plug your guitar directly into your laptop" isn't true. I do this without a problem on my computers, its just not going to give you ideal signal levels. The problem you might be seeing is that there is a mono-stereo mismatch between your mono guitar cable, your 1/4 to 1/8 inch adapter, and your input on the laptop. I have both mono and stereo 1/4 to 1/8 adapters and laptops with both mono and stereo input jacks. Depending on my configuration, the input signal is reduced by half because of the way I've hooked it up, i.e. the incorrect conversion of a mono signal results in half of it being lost.

At least, this is the issue that comes to mind when I read your sentence, "when I plug the cable almost halfway of the adapter's body ... I can hear sound when I play and there's some loud buzzing sound involved." There are likely multiple issues at play here.

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