I like to get advice about how to connect an electric guitar and a separate foot pedal to my PC. I want to use software on my PC for effects such as distortion and the likes and switch between different effects via foot pedal. I also want an outgoing link so I can connect it to my amp or alternatively head set.

Is there a product that combines all the above rather than me having to connect each device individually? Obviously latency also plays a part here hence my shying away from a simple USB adapter.

The end goal is to jam using different effects via software on my PC and to potentially also mix with other tracks to play along popular rock songs.

  • Have you seen this question? music.stackexchange.com/questions/11211/… It definitely covers getting the sound into the computer, not sure about getting it out to an amp. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 5:42
  • I am aware of those rather "simple solutions", thank you. But what I am looking for is a more comprehensive hardware "module". Something that I can hook foot pedals, a guitar, and possibly a mic or other instruments in, that passes on the signals to the pc for effect processing and/or recording/mixing. The device should also have a line out to pass to an amp for outgoing audio (post mixed/post effect audio through usb from the pc).
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 5:48
  • 1
    No worries, I would be interested in an all-in-one solution too. But even fairly simple USB audio interfaces often have a line-out, so that you can hear the processed signal through headphones while recording. I do this with GarageBand, I've just never tried feeding that signal to my amp. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 6:16

1 Answer 1

  1. You need some kind of audio interface to take the guitar input, convert it to digital and bus it into your computer. There are guitar specific ones that are bit cheaper because they provide only the features needed for guitar and not extra things like mic preamps and different kinds of routing for general recording needs. But a recording interface will work fine as well.
  2. You need a MIDI controller in pedal form if you want to control the software.
  3. (If you want to send the signal back out to an amp) you need an output at reasonable enough level for a guitar amp and ideally you'd want the capabilities of a re-amp box (converts the balanced output to the unbalanced guitar amp input eliminating potential hum). In other words you want the amp getting the same unbalanced signal at roughly the same level it'd get from guitar + real pedals. This typically requires a reamp box as I said.

There are some boxes that combine the first two (example only: this or this), but I can't think of one off hand that includes the third as well. You may want to forget combining them into one product and just get separate things that fit both your needs and budget.

So first think about getting an interface that meets your needs for guitar (and otherwise if you have any recording ambitions). Then add in a MIDI pedal. Then if you really need to send it to the amp rather than using a software amp, get a reamp box.

But before you drop a bunch of money, I'd try to test some of the software even if it's with a cheaper iRig type interface to see if you like the sound and feel of software effects and amps. Some people love them but personally I've never liked the feel and response compared to a real amp.

  • Very useful, upvoted+. Would a midi foot pedal work with garage band? I am eyeballing garage band as effect processor and possibly some light mixing.
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 5:50
  • if I followed your recommendation to also consider separate hardware modules, what would I need to, for example, connect my guitar and a separate foot pedal to garage band, for example? I could then route the post effect/mixed signal via an audio card or line out to an external amp/speakers I guess?
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 5:58
  • Yes it should be fine. One thing I can't remember is if GB can do "MIDI learn". That is, you have a button or a knob on your MIDI controller and you can assign click learn for a particular param and them touch the MIDI controller to assign it to that button/knob. Logic, GB's big brother, can do it but I haven't used GB in years. I could try it tomorrow if nobody answers by then.
    – user37496
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 6:01
  • Re foot pedal I would find it very useful if it was the other way around, having a hard coded id for each switch on the pedal (if having multiple switches on the pedal) and with garage band I would just drag and drop pedal effects around to assign to each switch on the pedal. Is that possible?
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 6:03
  • That's typically not how it works because GB or whatever your given software knows nothing about your MIDI device or its layout. It just knows that it receives certain MIDI messages. So either you have to reconfigure your MIDI controller to send different messages (which is a possibility) or you have to configure the software so the controllable params expect whatever message you happen to be sending (learn).
    – user37496
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 6:08

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