I regularly play this way:

  • Electric guitar connected to AMP
  • Laptop computer connected to AMP ("aux")
  • Headphones connected to AMP ("headphones")
  • Laptop plays some song I like (eg. using youtube)

This way I can listen both the song and my guitar, with my headphones.

Question is: what do I need (in terms of hardware and software) to record only my guitar on my computer? (while I continue listening both the song and guitar through my headphones)

More info:

  • AMP is a Fender Champion 40 (inputs are: power, "aux", "guitar" and output is "headphones" (optional))

I know there is this related question: How to record my guitar on my computer ..but I'm adding a constraint in my question: I want to continue playing with headphones (I can't make much noise at my place)

  • Does your laptop have a mic input? You could try running the headphones out from the amp to the mic input, then plug your headphones into the laptops output.
    – jonrsharpe
    Feb 26, 2015 at 10:18
  • Do you want/need to record what comes from the amp, or are you happy to plug the guitar straight into the PC and use some software to model an amp?
    – Mr. Boy
    Feb 26, 2015 at 10:32
  • @Mr.Boy I just want to record the guitar, so recording what comes from the amp (under the scenario I gave) will record also the song I'm covering, all merged, and is not what I want. My laptop indeed has a mic input
    – sports
    Feb 26, 2015 at 16:32
  • Free music softwares: Podium Free, Studio One (or studio one 2). Free trails of Reaper or Garage band. Mic input works fairly well, or you could use direct input from guitar -> computer. If you get interference and/or feedback between the headphone (output) lead and the input (mic/guitar) lead, you should try maximising distance between them- I sometimes use blutack to hang stuff at far distances.
    – Mikasa
    Jun 12, 2015 at 18:00

5 Answers 5


I would not recommend using the AUX output of your amp to record.

Guitar > Guitar Cable > Audio Interface > Firewire > Laptop > (Guitar Rig Pro) > DAW.....

Guitar rig pro / Amplitube are processing software that emulate amps and effects. Open it inside your DAW as a VST (and record it). This also gives you access to many amps for creativity purposes. As for DAW, if your just recording guitar then you don't need anything fancy.

Audio interface needs to be low latency (So there is little delay), and have low noise on the pre-amp. I use saffire pro. You can get a good second hand one for cheap and will have many uses for the recording musician.

UPDATE, to answer comments:

  • No amp needed, all done digitally (emulators are getting very good). A good audio interface will not introduce any noticeable delay, mine is 1.4ms. Most delay will be from processing the sound in the software (e.g. Guitar Rig Pro). If you have a slow computer you will notice a delay coming into play as you add more virtual "pedals" and "effects".

  • Yes, DAW is a category of software, digital audio workstation. Far better explanations already out there than I can give. Ableton is a DAW, Guitar Rig Pro can be a VST. You load VST's (plugins) inside a DAW.

  • Audio interface can be internal or external but external is more popular as you can put it on your desk and easily plug in your instruments. Audio interface can mean for music instruments or for connecting up a 5.1 surround sound, so make sure you get an audio interface that is for instruments. You will need at least 1 input to have a "pre-amp" because an electric guitar signal needs amplifying.

  • What can you win using an interface? Google Amplitube and Guitar Rig and listen to the audio demos, that should be enough for you to decide if its worth getting an interface. If you can't tell the difference in quality then stay with what you've got.

  • Oh, so the amp at the end is absolutely innecessary for this purpose? but I'm curious about the latency/delay... "audio interface > firewire" can be as fast as the amp?
    – sports
    Feb 26, 2015 at 16:32
  • To be clear: DAW is a category of software? like "guitar rig pro"?
    – sports
    Feb 26, 2015 at 16:34
  • An "Audio Interface" is like an external audio driver?
    – sports
    Feb 26, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    Whats the problem of this cheaper setting?: Guitar > Guitar Cable > Amp > Laptop > ..., I just noticed I was able to connect the amp ("phones out") to the laptop ("line in") and I actually hear my guitar with the effect given by the amp. There is no delay. What can I win with a firewire interface?
    – sports
    Feb 26, 2015 at 21:45

I use a Behringer-ucg102 to connect my guitar to the computer, where the input is given to a track in my DAW(Reaper). The output can be heard by using the DAW's monitoring button for the track. I add another track which has the song/backing track on it. For guitar FX, I load the Guitar Rig/Amplitube VST for the track I'm monitoring. Now I can practice/record along with the track.


You need some sort of DAW on your computer, and an input device. I agree that you should not be going from the AUX output on your amp directly into your computer.

I have an early version of the Line 6 POD (which you can now find used pretty cheap these days) and I love it for practicing guitar and not bothering anyone.

I also have a home studio set up with a mixer and patch bay to record multiple instruments and vocals with my computer.


I use a Line6 POD UX2, which plugs into my computer. I can plug headphones into it (via an adapter) or I can plug my amp into it. Then I use the free Line6 PodFarm software in which I can add FX and create tones for my guitar. That software doesn't record, but you can change the input on different software (I use Propellerhead Reason or Adobe Audition, but you could use Audacity which is free) to receive sound from the POD.


There are many ways to accomplish what you want to do - silent monitoring with headphones and recording of your guitar on computer. The Line 6 Pod systems as mentioned by manejar are great.

Another option that should work would be a simple audio interface such as this one PreSonus AudioBox USB which has two line inputs for guitar or mic, a headphone jack and connects to computer via USB and also has monitor out jacks. It comes bundled with Studio One® Artist DAW software for Mac and Windows. But I have not personally used this one. I had a similar type interface from M-Audio and it worked fine.

What I use now that I do know will work, but may be much more than you need is a Boss BR-800 Multi Track Recorder like this Boss BR-800.

This unit will allow you to record your guitar on any one of 8 channels, while listening to it with headphones (no amp required) and also while listening to the song you are playing along with (while listening to everything through the units headphone jack). It has line in recording capability so you can record something playing on your computer or i-pod by plugging into the line in jack on the back.

You can plug in acoustic/electric or hi-Z electric guitar or bass or microphones with SLR input (either dynamic or condenser). It also has guitar effects that are almost infinitely adjustable and you can create your own pre-set effects. It has multiple amp emulations as well.

You can record your backing music on one track your guitar on another, then play those two channels back while playing a second guitar part (perhaps with overdrive) over top of the first guitar part and build more parts if you like. If you don't have a bass guitar but want to add a bass line to your recording, you can use the "guitar to bass simulator" that will make your guitar sound like any of several different type bass guitars.

If you mess up in a certain section when making your recording, rather than start all over, you can just "punch-in" over the mistake (re-record just the one section).

After you finish your recording, you can add other effects during the mastering phase and adjust the relative volume of the various tracks during mastering. So if you record yourself playing on one track and the backing music from YouTube on another track, you can adjust the volume on each track to get the balance between the two just right. You can also adjust the gain of each channel during recording.

It also has built in drum samples (it's almost like a drum machine) that you can play to and record if you choose. It also has a cool feature where you can record something off YouTube for example and then play it back at half speed and you can loop a certain section if you want to learn to play a certain riff.

It will plug into your computer via USB, it comes with free DAW recording software, and you can use it as a control surface for most DAW software programs. Also really handy, is everything is recorded onto a standard SD card and I just pop that into my computer to transfer the files.

Another really handy feature is that you can plug it in - or run it on AA batteries so you can even take it camping or to the beach or out on a boat and record, and playback through headphones or monitor. It even has built in stereo mics you can use for recording a quick acoustic performance if you select the built in mics.

And like I said, you don't have to use your amp, although you could plug your amp into one of the inputs from your headphone jack on your amplifier and plug your headphones into the headphone jack on the Boss Recorder.

I am sure there will be other options posted as well. I personally would make a purchase of this nature from a retailer with a generous and no-hassle return policy and verify the return policy for the particular equipment you want to buy. Then if it does not do what you want, the way you want it to, you can return it for a refund or exchange it for something different to try.

DISCLAIMER: No I do not work for Boss - I just love my BR-800 (can you tell?).

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