Recording Without a Full Studio for Really Cheap




About: i play guitar

in this instructable I am going to show you how to record stuff from your guitar in excellent quality, without a studio, and for really cheap. This is my first instructable, so any suggestions on how to make it better are much appreciated. the initials on my guitar are based off of this project here:

This is what my setup looked like once I had everything ready.

Step 1: Stuff You Need

here is what you will need:

2 guitar cables
one amp
one guitar with electronics
a computer
one of these things (it changes the size of the end of the cable to the size of a headphone)
electricity (duh)
double stuffed Oreos (optional but highly recommended)


usb mic
one of thoes things


Audacity is a free audio recording/editing program that is free. Here is a link to it if you don't already have it:

you should also get the LAME mp3 encoder which is here:
what this does is it allows you to export what you've made as an mp3

Step 2: Setting It Up

before you open up Audacity, find the place on your computer and plug in the "one of these things" in the other end plug in your cable. Now plug the other end of that cable into the rec out or headphone place on your amp. make sure your amp is plugged in, obviously. Take your second cable and plug it into your amp and guitar like you normally would.

Step 3: Audacity

open up Audacity. Click on the edit drop-down at the top and then preferences, which is at the bottom. on the first tab chose the recording device that you plugged into. There should only be a few, so if you don't know just test them all until you get to the right one. Your basically ready to record.

Step 4: Record

WARNING: do not turn your amp up too loud, your sound card can only handle so much. You could easily blow your sound card if the amplitude is too great.

Now all you have to do is push the record button and play your stuff, when you finish push stop. you wont be able to hear through the amp, but if you enable software playtrough in the preferences menu then you can hear what your playing through your computer speakers, though there might be a bit of delay. if you really want to hear whats going on through the amp, then you can get another "one of these things" a "one of those things" (the opposite of a one of these things) and headphones or speakers and a headphone splitter. I'm not sure if this will work, but if it does it will look something like this:

Step 5: Other Options for Vocals and Other Instruments

USB microphones are great for recording things in fairly high quality. you could use a really nice one that costs lots of money, or you could do what I do and use the one that I use with Guitar Hero: World Tour. To get audacity to read your mic, you have to plug it in when audacity isn't running. Once you open Audacity, go to Edit> Preferences and then under recording chose what will show up as something like: USB microphone. If you have a mic stand for it, great, but if you dont, a great idea is to use a music stand like in picture one. if your micing something like an acoustic guitar, then just drop the music stand down to the level of the sound hole

[pictures coming soon]



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    31 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I connected my amp to the line-in via an aux cable (my amp has an aux jack), but it didn't sound much good, also had a lit of noise.
    Then I used my effects processor, a Zoom G1XN, connected it to line in using "one of these things" and the aux cable, and it worked like a dream!!
    It only had a little bit of noise, which can easily be removed in Audacity itself. However, the noise is completely eliminated if I plug my laptop and my processor to different switchboards ;)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What's the technical term for "one of these things because I can't just walk into an electronics store and ask fo that/

    3 replies

    9 years ago on Introduction

     I bet its somewhere already in here, but couldn't you use the line-in? It would provide a much better sound quality. Nice instructable by the way. :) Thumbsup.

    2 replies

    You can use a sound card input to record it, but not the onboard sound input. Onboard has no pre-amp, but a sound card does.
    I like the audacity Beta best for these projects.
    Good Ible !


    9 years ago on Introduction

    That's a good program for splitting tracks, but poor for mixing. Take a look at SoundForge studio or Adobe, they offer a lot more options.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i have a digitech rp250 (you know one of those effects processors) and it has usb out. i plug it into the computer and get flawless recordings. it was relatively cheap compared to other recording setups. i think it was about $150. although if youre really into recording, you can get an interface. my friend has a tascam interface that was also $150 and he can plug in mics and instruments and record two tracks at once. but i do like this setup you have. its perfect for beginners because all it doesnt require anything your average guitarist doesnt have.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    yeah, recording two tracks at once would be a huge plus, as i like to do things with other guitarists and whatnot in real time as opposed to having to overdub. the whole beginner recording thing was kind of what i was going for because this way you dont have to go to too much trouble and spend too much money to record a song or idea or whatever else. -Alec


    9 years ago on Step 2

    I found that you can also just plug in a distortion peddle in place of an amp. :D

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    hrmmm, good idea. im thinking of making a distortion pedal from one of these instructables, but i cant read a schematic so im kind of at a loss. the reason you go through the amp is so there is a power scource, and a pedal uses batteries (i think...) so that is definately a good idea.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I have the exact same setup, but i need to get that adapter thing for the amp-to-pc connection, right now I'm hanging a mic in front of my amp, is the sound quality noticeably greater when you hook it up to the computer rather than a mic's quality would be?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    i do that too sometimes, depending on the sound i want. i was thinking about adding a USB mic section. i think i will if i can find time. what kind of mic you have in combination with your amp settings will determine the overall quality. if your mic is the kind that plugs in with a piece that looks like a headphone jack, you may want to consider getting a usb mic. i use one just like the one from guitar hero. also, if you want distortion, don't crank it and cause for clipping with a clean sound on your amp, instead ajust your mic settings so it records clean, and the distortion is from either a pedal or the settings on the amp. basically, when getting effects through a usb mic, i find its best to record it straight through the mic with the tone you desire being played straight from your amp. your other alternative is to get the adapter for the computer like i said in my instructable. im pretty sure that you can get them at radio shack for fairly cheap. the sound quality is a little bit better (download the demonstration track if you want to hear it) but it's more difficult to get the desired tone. basically it all comes down to the tone you want and how you can go about getting it. if you can get the tone you like and are happy with the quality of the sound, than stick with your mic setup, otherwise going straight into the pc from your amp is a solution that will ultimately give you higher quality. -Alec

    van johnson112

    9 years ago on Step 1

    You have to be careful how much you turn up the amp. The output from the amp is not line level and you could blow your sound card with a powered source.