IPhone / ITouch Guitar Cable & Buffer




Introduction: IPhone / ITouch Guitar Cable & Buffer

Various cables have appeared that allow you to connect your electric guitar to your iPhone or iTouch so you can record or use some of the amp and modeling effect applications. The issue is that the guitar's tone and volume controls are affected by the iPhone/iTouch microphone circuitry. Also the guitar circuitry sometimes doesn't trigger the iPhone/iTouch to switch to the external headphone/mic socket.

The following instructable will show you how to build a guitar buffer and cable that will allow you to connect your electric guitar directly to your iPhone/iTouch's headphone/mic socket.

To build this instructable you'll need to know how to  make a PCB (I used the toner transfer method) and some understating in basic electronics. You could also build it on strip board instead of making a PCB.

Step 1: Circuit Diagram of the Buffer.

The circuit runs of a single 9v transistor battery. When a 1/4 inch plug is inserted it turns on the power to the buffer. I used a high brightness blue LED for the power indicator so I could get away with only using around 1mA for the LED. This means that the whole circuit uses around 10mA or less when running.

The terminals I/P means input and O/P means output.
I haven't included the power diode in the circuit that prevents damage if you connect the battery around the wrong way. I'll show the diode in the wiring diagram.

Step 2: PCB

Here's the layout of the PCB. I used the toner transfer method to make the PCB. LED1 is a high brightness blue LED. You can use a normal LED if you like but you may have to reduce R6 to 1K.

I've added an Eagle CAD brd file and a PDF file that has the PCB layout.

The circuit has unity gain so it's not a preamp just a buffer. The output of the buffer goes into a trimpot so you can adjust the level. Set this trimpot so as not to overload the iTouch/iPhone when your guitar is setup as if you were using a guitar amplifier.

When you first build the circuit, set this trimpot 1/2 way and adjust for the best sound.

The circuit presents around a 1k load into the iPhone so as to automatically switch the internal microphone off.

Step 3: Wiring It Up.

The diagram shows how to wire up the PCB to the external plug and sockets. I have shown how to connect up the 4 pole 1/4" plug looking at the back of the plug. If you have purchased an A/V cable you'll have to figure out what cable colors go where.

I have detailed the plug pin out wiring in the next step.

Step 4: The Plug.

Here's how the 4 pole plug is wired. I managed to pick up a 4 pole 3.5mm (1/8") plug at Jaycar in Australia. They're more expensive than the regular stereo plugs.

Another source of a 4 pole plug can be found on some A/V camcorder or DVD cables. You need to check if they're wired correctly. Some cables have the coax shield connected to sleeve of the plug.  If you use these types of cable, then the shield of the coax cable will be used as the microphone connection which will cause hum. So don't use these A/V cables unless you know how they're wired up.

I used an old Nokia cable that had three separate coax cables. Using this type of cable prevents crosstalk although any multicored shielded cable should work as long as the cables not too long.

Step 5: Putting It Into a Box.

I crammed everything into a small ABS plastic box. You could use a metal box to make it more robust and to also reduce electrical interference.

Step 6: Inside the Box



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    19 Discussions

    how can i make an output going to the amplifier? is there any chance of doing it?

    Any chance i could buy one from you?

    Hiya, I'm building a similar project for my AS coursework, and I'm having a problem in that the circuit seems to be working fine, but my iPhone on IOS8 will not switch from the built in speaker to the input on the 4 pole jack.

    What do you think the problem is?

    1 reply

    I did use some recycled parts also I checked everything except the IC to make sure everything was good. I think I am going to go buy a new one and start my troubleshooting there.

    Everything looks good and it is very clean design. One issue I see you can't use a stereo 1/4 inch jack with a guitar. Guitars are a single channel or a mono cable. I put this together on per board but I must have a mistake so where so I have to go back over my layout and connections. I don't think my guitar signal is getting through. Anyhow this is the best DIY Irig i have found the non powered units have horrible feedback issues. Thanks for posting.

    Hey awesome project! I'm still pretty new to diagrams and everything so I could have just missed it but on the PDF of your schematic, I don't see an R4 am I missing something or did u just accidentally skip that? Just don't wanna mess anything up because I didn't see it. Thanks

    Hey awesome project! I'm still pretty new to diagrams and everything so I could have just missed it but on the PDF of your schematic, I don't see an R4 am I missing something or did u just accidentally skip that? Just don't wanna mess anything up because I didn't see it. Thanks

    Nice work to you have the updated board file brd the attached is slightly different to the pdf.

    I think I'll try this out this weekend, but I have a question. Your wiring diagram shows a diode, but the schematic doesn't show where the diode goes. Can you clear this up?

    3 replies

    The diode was added to protect the circuit if you try and clip the 9V battery around the wrong way. It was an afterthought as I built the project for someone else and I didn't what the circuit damageg IF the battery was put in th wrong way (I know it's hard to put the battery in the wrong way) but stranger things have happened....


    I have been searching for a DIY irig/ampkit for a while and i think your tutorial is what i was looking for! :)

    is there any clippings/distorions when you use this kit on your iphone/ipod/ipad? like unpowered irig does?

    I don't play the guitar but the guy I built it for uses it on his iPhone 3s and hasn't had any clipping. You can adjust the output via the variable resistor (pot) on the PCB. If you do get any clipping just turn down the output. One thing we did find was that fluff gets into the iPhone headphone jack and can make things noisy or the plug doesn't go all the way in. So once in a while check your headphone jack in your iphone/ipod with a torch to see if there's not a build up of fluff / dust.

    Can you please post all of the components that you have used? The shematic is a lil confusing for me since im 13. And does this have impedance matching like the iRig?

    Your a hero, my son is learning to play the electric guitar, and wanted a couple of effects pedals for xmas, I have seen various "apps' on iTunes that when combined with your gizmo, will do the job of effects pedals.
    You have saved me money and given me a little project.
    cheers ears!

    1 reply

    As your son gets better, and i do hope he does, guitar is like my life haha, he should get actual stompboxes, which if they are analog, they can be easily made.