- What Do You Need to Record Guitar on Your PC?
- The Three Ways to Record Your Guitar
- Audacity PC Recording Software
- Recording Guitar with Reaper for PC
- Recording Your Guitar with Nero Wave Editor
- The Traverso DAW Sequencer for Recording Guitar
- FL Studio 11 for Recording Guitar on Your PC
- Composing Music on Your Computer with Sonar
- Presonus Studio One for Recording Guitar onto PC
“The world's most famous and popular language is music.” - Psy
Subscription-based streaming accounted for 83% of stream revenue in 2017. More and more people are happy to pay for access to music via their computer or smartphone. This is great news for both amateur and professional musicians.
If you want to create the next big hit, you’re going to have to get to work and start recording your own music on your computer and share it online.
In this article, we’re going to have a look at what you need to start recording on your PC, different ways to record music, and the best programmes for recording guitar and other musical instruments.
What Do You Need to Record Guitar on Your PC?
Before we get into the best programmes, you’re going to need a few things to record your acoustic or electric guitar:
- Your guitar and the sound of your guitar to be recorded, saved, or broadcast.
- A system for capturing the sound: a smartphone, microphone, camera, soundcard, pre-amp, etc. There are plenty of options for recording sound but the quality will depend massively on the investment you’re willing to put in.
- A recording programme: this is where your computer comes into it. Some programmes are free and are a great place to start. However, if your goal is to compose and create real songs, you’re probably going to need to pay for a programme with more options.
How different is PC recording to recording your music on a MAC?
The Three Ways to Record Your Guitar
You won’t necessarily record a classical guitar, folk guitar, and an electro-acoustic guitar in the same way. Here are the three main ways to record your guitar.
The Direct Method
This is the simplest ways to record your instrument with a computer equipped with a microphone. This is also the only way to record an acoustic guitar without a PA system. If your computer doesn’t have a microphone or the built-in microphone isn’t very good, there are a number of decent mics you can get and connect via the USB port.
Place the microphone near your guitar’s sound box to get a better sound. In any case, you’re also going to need a programme to record the sound.
The Direct Method for Electric Guitars
This is the same method but you’ll add a guitar amp to the mix. You need to plug your electric guitar into the amp and them place the microphone by the speaker.
- The closer the microphone is, the less interference you’ll pick up.
- The closer the microphone is to the centre of the speaker, the brighter the sound will be.
- The further the microphone is from the amp, the more muted the sound will be and the better the bass will be.
The choice is yours! You should take the time to find the perfect setup. You'll probably notice that an electric guitar without an amp sounds pretty rubbish!
The Mini Home Studio Method
To get better recordings with less interference, you should connect your amp directly to your computer.
However, you mightn’t get a good quality recording from your computer’s sound card. It’s better to buy an external sound card in order to adjust the levels and avoid any loss of quality during the recording process.
You need to plug your guitar into your amp and then plug the amp into your computer via the external sound card or multi-effects.
External sound cards are also known as audio interfaces and you’ll need to spend upwards of £100 on one. There are also options such as mini-recorders which plug into the guitar via the jack or genuine home studios, which are only really recommended for professionals.
That might give you pause; why not think about that advice while playing these easy to learn French songs?
Audacity PC Recording Software
Audacity is a powerful audio editor with an intuitive interface. The programme is free because it’s open-source.
With multi-track recording, it can manage multiple instruments at once. Audacity offers direct recording functionality, importing audio tracks, overdubbing, and cutting and copying tracks to your heart’s content. Audacity also includes a number of effects, too.
Learning how to use all of this programme’s functionality will take time, but it'll be worth it once you see just exactly what this software can do.
Recording Guitar with Reaper for PC
Reaper is a free programme for composing and editing musical compositions. It allows you to arrange samples, apply effects, and even add virtual instruments. The latest version can also use MIDI files, which are commonly used in Computer Music.
You’ll find a simple and complete interface showing you the audio tracks at the top of the screen and a mixing deck at the bottom. You can hide the letter if you need to see more of the tracks. There’s no limit to the number of tracks but this will depend on your sound card. You can save your projects as .wav files.
There’s a premium version but the free version is great for getting started and seeing whether or not you like it.
Recording Your Guitar with Nero Wave Editor
This recording programme is free and it’s recommended for beginners who’re finding Audacity too complicated.
In fact, Nero Wave Editor allows you to edit files easily and quickly. You can add effects such as doppler, reverb, and distortion. Other features include noise reduction and an equaliser. The programme is compatible with VST and DirectX plugins to give you even more options.
It’s compatible with .wav, .ogg, .mp3, .mp4, and .aiff, .aac, and .flac file formats.
The Traverso DAW Sequencer for Recording Guitar
This recording programme is available for free. Complete with multi-track recording, mixing deck, and effects. Traverso DAW allows for real-time audio editing. The recordings are quality. Furthermore, the user interface is clean and intuitive.
This programme is more compact than most other audio programmes and doesn’t take too much space on your computer. It supports the .flac, .ogg, .mp3, and .wav file formats.
FL Studio 11 for Recording Guitar on Your PC
Let’s have a look at some of the programmes you can pay for with FL Studio 11, formerly known as FruityLoops. The most basic version starts at around £80. It’s a programme that’s popular with both amateurs and professionals.
The programme has a plethora of different tools for editing patterns, multi-track sequencing, and recording samples. It’s compatible with guitars, pianos, and drums, too. You can put together patterns and create your own songs by recording your entire band.
You can manage 99 different tracks at the same time, which might be difficult for beginners. There’s a trial version available to see if you like it.
Composing Music on Your Computer with Sonar
Starting at £40, you can enjoy Sonar’s versatile audio sequence.
There are three main versions (Artist, Professional, Platinum) for different needs. Just like Cubase and Ardour, Sonar is developed by Cakewalk and allows you to create, record, and share music.
There are plenty of virtual instruments available to help you create more diverse music. You can apply effects to your recordings like reverb, flanger, and delay.
Once you’ve finished, you can share your creations directly to YouTube, SoundCloud, burn them to a CD, or export them as .wav, .flac, and .aif files. There are trial versions available, too. Check them out and see whether Sonar is right for you.
Also discover these great online tools for tuning your guitar...
Presonus Studio One for Recording Guitar onto PC
Presonus Studio One is one of the best programmes for Computer Music.
You can use this programme to record, mix, and edit your music and there’s also a trial version available to check out. The user interface is simple and effective and is great for both amateurs and professional musicians.
The keyboard shortcuts are exactly the same as other programmes like Cubase, Pro Tools, and Logic, which can make things much easier if you’re familiar with them.
To get a better idea, we recommend that you try out these programmes and see which works for you.
So which are you going to start recording your music on?
If you want to get better at playing the guitar before you start recording yourself, you should check out some of the tutors on Superprof. You can search for what you want to learn and by where you live. Most tutors offer free tutoring for the first hour, so try a few out and see who you like!
If, for some reason, you can't find any suitable guitar tutors in your local area, don't forget that you can always opt for online private tutorials via webcam using a programme like Skype. This is a useful solution for those who live remotely or have awkward schedules as you just need to have a computer with a decent webcam, microphone, and a good internet connection. Additionally, they tend to be cheaper than other private tutorials as your tutor doesn't need to factor travel costs into their rates!
Now discover all the best tools for taking your guitar playing to the next level!