If you’re thinking about recording and producing your own music, you might have considered using GarageBand. As a free app available to IOS users, GarageBand is an excellent starting point.
The digital audio workstation is easy to navigate, and you need very little equipment to get set up.
Only, when it comes time to start recording, you don’t know how to go about it. There are a few methods of recording your guitar via GarageBand, but only a few of them are any good.
Connecting the guitar directly to GarageBand has a serious latency issue, and recording with the Mac microphone is even worse.
In this guide, we’ll talk you through the process of connecting your guitar to GarageBand, and recording music in the best way possible. Once you’ve got the guitar connected, you can experiment with the settings to find what works for you, and start producing your own music.
What You Need To Connect Your Guitar To GarageBand
You don’t need much in the way of equipment to connect your guitar to GarageBand, but if you’re just starting out in music production, then you might need to make some purchases.
These are things that you will need eventually for proper music recording and production, so they’re worth buying.
If you haven’t already got GarageBand, the first step is downloading it. GarageBand comes preloaded on Macs and some iPads, so you might have it without realizing. If not, it can be downloaded from the app store. GarageBand is only available on IOS devices.
Of course, you need your guitar. If you want to record acoustic to GarageBand, you’ll need to do so via a microphone, for obvious reasons.
But if you have an electric guitar or an electro-acoustic guitar, you might prefer to record directly to GarageBand. This allows you to take advantage of the amps and presets on the workspace.
You also need an audio interface, and a cable to connect the audio interface to the computer/device. This cable will often be included with the audio interface, but you might need to pick one up separately.
This will typically use a USB or FireWire port, but be sure to check the exact specifications. You also need a cable to connect your guitar to the audio interface.
We also recommend a pair of headphones. This will make it easier to listen as you record and on playback.
This is all you need for the method we use to connect, but some prefer to record via amps and microphones. But if you want an easy method with high rewards, we recommend following our guide.
How To Connect Your Guitar To GarageBand
- Start by connecting your audio interface to your Mac or other device. Depending on the age of your Mac or your audio interface, you may need to use adapters here. Necessary cables should either be included with the audio interface, or can be picked up online or from an electronics store.
- Connect your guitar to your audio interface, and your headphones either to your Mac, or to your audio interface.
- Open up GarageBand, and create an Empty Project. Do this via the New Project heading in the top left corner of the app.
- Head to Preferences. Select the title Audio or Audio/MIDI. This will bring up connecting options.
- Next to the heading Input Device should be a popup menu. From here, select your audio interface. If you have headphones connected to the audio interface, select the interface on the Output Device popup menu as well. If you have your headphones connected to the Mac itself, select External Headphones from the menu.
- Click on the Choose A Track Type menu, and select the Guitar audio track type. This will bring up your controls. Double check under the Recording Settings that your input is the audio interface.
- Turn on the Monitoring button, which looks like the Wi-Fi symbol flipped upside down. When you turn it on, it should turn orange, or light up.
- Now, you want to experiment with your amps, pedalboards, and preset sounds. Head to the Smart Controls screen to discover the Amp Designer and Pedalboard plugins. You can choose from the preset options, or adjust and customize your own settings, which can be saved for next time.
- Start recording! The GarageBand interface is pretty user-friendly, especially if you already have experience using Apple products.
Other Methods Of Recording Your Guitar On GarageBand
We like this direct connection method because it allows you to take full advantage of the amps and settings installed with GarageBand. However, it isn’t the only way to go about it.
If you want to record using microphones, these can either be connected via the audio interface, or directly to the computer itself.
An XLR microphone will need an audio interface, while a USB mic connects to the computer. From here, the method is much the same, only you might need to adjust your Input Device.
It’s also possible to record directly onto GarageBand via a Mac microphone. We only recommend this for rough demo tracks, because the sound quality won’t be good.
Another method that works while sacrificing quality is connecting your guitar straight to the Mac. You’ll need a guitar jack to USB, and then you can plug in and go.
Users of this method often experience latency, when there’s a delay between you playing a note and the sound being heard. Again, this method isn’t great, but it works if you’re on a budget.
As you can see, the whole system is pretty easy to set up and get going. It’s worth noting that GarageBand does sometimes update, and headings might get moved or renamed, but the interface should still be fairly intuitive.
GarageBand also has a built-in tuning fork that you can use to tune your guitar!
GarageBand is a great option for those who are new to audio production, and the range of settings allows you to experiment quite a bit with your sound. And you only need to make a few purchases to record clear audio.