You play the electric guitar or bass and you want to make a recording. You don’t want to spend a fortune. You want something simple so in ten minutes you can be up and running. Yes, the perfect product exists:
Looking for cheap and simple? It couldn’t get much simpler to record your guitar, or much cheaper, than a very simple Guitar-USB cable. The Alesis GuitarLink Plus is probably the cheapest reliable USB interface for electric guitar. One end is a 1/4″ jack which plugs straight into your guitar or bass. The other end just goes directly into a USB socket on your Mac, Laptop or PC. It’s just plug and play, it will self-install in a few minutes. If you want to connect to an iPad it will work just as well but you will need a USB adapter. As if this USB Guitar cable wasn’t good enough on its own – and it will work with any standard recording software – the GuitarLink Plus also comes with a copy of Guitar Rig LE so you can get playing straight out of the box emulations of classic amplifiers and effects pedals. You can even record your performances right in Guitar Rig and export it to your favorite recording software, or connect it to your amp or PA system for an enhanced performance. Not bad for a few pounds.
If you have just a little bit more to spend, then the Behringer UCG102 USB Guitar Link is worth stepping up to, it has the added benefit of a headphone output so you will benefit from ultra low-latency playback. What that means is you can listen to what you are doing without any noticeable delay between your playing and monitoring. It also has the clever little addition of variable-speed file playback function for MP3, WAV, and AIFF audio files which makes for a fantastic tool for practising along with tracks without losing the will to live because you can’t keep up! Works on both Mac and PC.
Although more money, the higher quality IK Multimedia StealthPlug is a USB audio interface for guitar and bass integrated into a simple 1/4″ jack to usb cablefor your mac or pc. It also has full input/output processing so it makes a fantastic jamming and practising device. The Stealth Plug also comes with a nice software suite including amplitube 2 live, amplitube x-gear, mackie tracktion 2.1, sampletank 2 se, t-racks 3 eq and 500mb of jam loops by sonic reality so is a good pick for a complete out of the box guitar recording package on a tight budget.
All the above are perfect for PC and Mac. If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch then there a a growing number of little devices to hook your guitar straight up and start playing with apps on the go. The IK Multimedia iRig has been around a few years now, the original and still a great choice.
I’ve been covering some real entry level stuff here, because I don’t think price should stand in the way of getting started. You really can take your guitar playing to a new level by investing a few pounds in one of the above. They are easy to resell if you get bitten by the bug and decide you are ready to upgrade. But I am a big believer in starting small and achieving something quickly. Have fun.