Computers and the internet are, for me, the most important parts of my life beside obviously my beloved family and friends. Even more than my amazing guitars, basses and amplifiers, because with them I can do literally thousands of different things with it.
One of them is creating music, which is definitely an area that as seen a big rise in computer generated music, which may be used for good or evil. Also, different ways of establishing connections between instruments in general with DAW’s may come in different forms.
Connecting a guitar on a computer can happen in several ways and for several reasons. You may want to record your playing, use your computer as an amplifier or use it to play video games (Rocksmith, that’s you).
These options can be used both on Windows and Mac.
I would recommend for audio recording that you would use a somewhat good quality USB audio interface. These interfaces are a piece of hardware that you can get for under $100 that will improve the audio qualities of your computer, hence give you better sound quality when record. It will also give you a way to plug your guitar jack into it.
Interfaces vary in prices but for a new user I recommend you the Behringer UM2, which is a very simple single channel interface that you can get for a very small price.
You can also opt for the line of USB interfaces by Steinberg which offer great quality products for a more serious investment. I have a Steinberg UR22MKk2 that has an incredible sound.
Even for the other options that I mentioned, a good audio interface is a great choice.
Using Your Computer As An Amplifier
One of the downsides of the old days in music was how expensive the equipment was. Of course, we could argue about the quality of the products that were made in the past, which a lot of people still prefer the old days of big amplifiers, stacks of speakers and 30 different pedals on a pedal board, to achieve a certain sound.
Today, with the improvement in the software available for musicians we can get pretty much the same sounds as the old days.
Guitar Rig is a software created by Native Instruments, a company that is known for great music software like the TRAKTOR for DJ’s. This software allows you to mimic the sounds of the amps, pedals, and microphones that you love. You can choose from several big names in the market to perfectly hone the sound that you want.
To connect your guitar this way you can still use the interface, but a simple guitar jack to USB will work.
The best option you can have, also because it comes included with a version of Guitar Rig that you can use at any time, is the Alesis GuitarLink Plus. This is simply a cable where in one end you have a jack connector and the other end a standard USB connector.
Connecting Your Guitar To Play Rocksmith
If you buy Rocksmith on Steam, you will be faced with a problem that you won’t find with other games on the platform. You buy the game all excited to start playing and then you realize you will need an adapter to actually plug your guitar on your computer.
For playing Rocksmith I think I can say it’s the option in which you shouldn’t worry about sound quality, since you will be not actually listening to the sound input you’re sending, but actually the sound from the game.
With that said, the best and most affordable option can be an unbranded jack to USB that you can find on eBay. The original Rocksmith Real Tone, or the previously mentioned Alesis GuitarLink Plus are superior choices that you can opt for.
Other Ways To Connect Your Guitar
There is a final way to connect a guitar to a computer. Well, this one I don’t recommend you. I am just naming this one option because I have seen it so many times online as an option that I think it should be addressed, and that is using a 3.5mm stereo jack to 1/4″ stereo plug adapter.
This option will make for a very bad sound quality, high latency and usually distortion and crashing. I don’t even think that it’s usable at all, although I have seen lots of people using it.