Connecting an acoustic guitar to a computer helps you to record your songs and play them when needed. You can also listen to your tunes and improve them. The best thing about this is that you don’t need any special devices to connect your acoustic guitar and PC.
We have listed multiple methods using which you can connect your acoustic guitar and PC.
Connecting your Acoustic Guitar to PC
There are three possible ways using which you can connect your acoustic guitar to a PC or laptop. They are
Option 1: Direct Audio-in Connection
This is the most simple and straightforward method to connect your acoustic guitar and PC. You don’t need any additional devices to set up the connection.
Step 1: Locate your PC’s audio-in port
You can establish a connection between your acoustic guitar and PC by plugging a cable into the audio-in port of the PC. The audio-in port will be located on the back of the CPUs marked by a microphone icon.
Step 2: Purchase appropriate cables
The standard guitar cables come with a ¼” phone jack on both ends. However, the audio-in port of your PC needs a ⅛” stereo plug. So, you will have to purchase a cable with a ¼” jack at one end and a ⅛” stereo plug at the other end. Alternatively, you can also use a stereo plug converter and go with the standard guitar cable.
If your PC does not have an audio-in port, you will need to get a converter cable that plugs into the audio-out port. The converter cable allows you to use your audio-out port as an audio-in port.
If your PC lacks both audio-in and audio-out ports, you need to purchase a USB converter cable and plug one end directly into the USB port of your PC.
Step 3: Plug the cables
Once you have gotten the necessary cables, you will need to plug the cables into the appropriate ports. Plug the ⅛” stereo plug into your PC’s audio or USB ports (whichever available) and the ¼” phone jack into your acoustic guitar.
Step 4: Check the signal
You can use your PC’s speaker, external speakers, or headphones to listen to the recordings. You need to plug the external speakers or headphones into the audio-out port of your PC to listen to your recording.
If you are listening to the recording from your PC’s internal speakers, the signal will be weak and the audio will be very feeble. When you connect external speakers to your PC, they amplify the signal and help you listen clearly.
Open the recording software and press the play button to listen to your recording. Some audio latency issues are bound to occur. There will be a delay in hearing the sound through your PC.
If you are unable to hear, you need to change the audio settings on your PC. Choose the appropriate port into which the device is plugged. Now, you should be able to listen to the recording.
Option 2: Powered audio-in connection
This option requires you to purchase some additional equipment and amplify the sound of your recordings.
Step 1: Purchase pre-amp equipment
The pre-amp device allows you to enhance the sound of your guitar. Purchase a pre-amp that is specifically designed for amplifying guitar sound.
Some guitars come installed with pre-amp devices. If you still haven’t bought a guitar, you might consider buying one that is fitted with the pre-amp device.
Step 2: Plug the cables into your guitar and PC
In this, the pre-amp acts as a hub between your guitar and PC. Plug one end of the standard guitar cable into the guitar and the other end into the input port of the pre-amp.
Now, plug a ⅛” stereo plug into the line-out port of the pre-amp and the other end into the audio-in port of your PC. In case your PC does not have an audio-in port, get the special audio-out cable or USB converter cable.
Step 3: Check the signal
Pluck the strings of your guitar to listen to the sound through your PC’s speakers, external speakers, or headphones. The external speakers and headphones should be connected to the audio-out port of your computer to hear the sound.
Now, open the software and listen to the recording. While the preamp amplifies the sound, the issue of audio latency still exists.
If you are unable to hear the recording, visit the audio settings menu on your computer and follow the same troubleshooting steps mentioned above.
Option 3: Powered Digital-in Connection
This method allows you to connect your acoustic guitar digitally to your personal computer. It uses the same devices used to connect through a powered audio-in connection, barring the extra USB port.
Step 1: Purchase a pre-amp equipment with a USB port
For this, the pre-amp device you use should have either a USB port or a Firewire port. Some acoustic guitars come fitted with a pre-amp set containing these ports. Check your guitar for the same before buying them separately.
Step 2: Plug the cables into your acoustic guitar and computer
Insert one end of the standard guitar cable into the acoustic guitar and the other end into the input port of the pre-amp device. Now, take a USB and plug one end into the pre-amp’s USB port. Insert the other end into your computer’s USB port.
Step 3: Check the signal
Once the cables are inserted properly, you will be able to listen to the recordings. You can hear the recording either from your computer’s speakers or external speakers or headphones. Plug the cables of external speakers and headphones if you want to hear the recordings using them.
Now, pluck a few strings in your acoustic guitar to test the signal. This method produces the clearest sound recordings.
If you are unable to hear the sound, check if the cables have been connected properly and follow the standard troubleshooting steps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can plug your guitar directly into your computer using a standard guitar cable. Insert the ¼” phone jack into your guitar and the ⅛” stereo plug into your computer’s audio-in port. If your computer does not have an audio-in port, you need to get converter cables.
Guitar amplifiers come with USB ports. So, you can use a USB cable to connect the guitar to the audio interface. If you want to connect the guitar to the audio interface without an amplifier, you need to buy the standard guitar cable with a ¼” phone jack at one end and a ⅛” stereo plug at the other end.
Firstly, you cannot directly plug headphones into your guitar. Secondly, even if you buy converter cables and set up the connection, you won’t hear anything. You need an amplifying device to enhance the sound. The device will act as the hub between your headphones and guitar.
You need a USB cable as well as a standard guitar cable to connect your guitar to a computer. First, plug the standard guitar cable into the pre-amp and guitar. Then, insert one end of the USB cable into your computer’s USB port and the other end into the pre-amp’s USB port.
Once you get the right cables, connecting your acoustic guitar to a PC is a simple and straightforward process. Depending upon your need for amplification and available ports, you can use any one of the methods to set up the connection.
Have you tried connecting your acoustic guitar to your PC? Which method did you use? Share your experience with us using the comments section below.