Posted August 27, 2011 by Stephan Earl in Home Studio Setup

Three Easy Music Recording Setups for Guitarists

Three Easy Music Recording Setups for Guitarists

If you’re a guitar or bass player interested in putting together a mobile guitar recording setup, then you have several good options available to you.  Simply perusing the articles within HomeMusicProduction.com you’ll find great tips for computer or iPad based DAW setups, many of which may be right for you. However, in this post I’m going to highlight three easy setups for recording music at home that are specifically geared toward guitarists. We’ll start with a basic setup and then move toward something more elaborate.  OK, let’s get started.

iPad Guitar Recording Setup $605

Three Easy Music Recording Setups for Guitarists - Apogee Jam iPad

If you’re looking for a really simple and ultra mobile recording workstation than the iPad is a great place to start. The latest generation iPad’s increased processor speed and RAM make it a real home recording contender.  For whatever it lacks in power and flexibility, compared with a computer, it makes up in ultra mobility.  Truth be told, an iPad with today’s music recoding software is many times more powerful than the Tascam 4-track Portastudio from many moons ago.  So here’s what this setup would require:

  1. iPad $499 – While any iPad will do, you’ll get slightly better performance from the new iPad over the first and second generation iPads. Also if you plan to use your iPad alongside a computer than the 16GB ($499) model will work fine. However if you don’t plan to use the iPad alongside a computer, then I recommend the 32GB ($599) model, or the 64GB ($699) model. The reason is because most iPad music production apps allow you to export the finished .WAV, .MIDI or project file; so with a 16GB iPad you can export your completed songs to your computer and save space on the iPad.  Without another computer for storage, you’ll want as much storage as possible on the iPad to save your recordings.
  2. GarageBand $4.99 – There are many mobile music workstations available for the iPad, but I like and recommend GarageBand for its functionality and ease of use.
    See iPad DAW App Comparison for more details on other good recording apps for iPad.

    GarageBand for the iPad has an array of modeled guitar amps and stomp boxes, a decent sound library, a very easy to use graphic interface and a great price.

  3. Apogee Jam $99 – Jam by Apogee is a digital audio guitar interface for iPad, iPhone and Mac. It’s plug-and-play ease of use allows you to simply plug Jam into the iPad, then plug in your guitar and start jamming. It’s got a gain control and led status light right on the interface for ease of use.  It’s signal path is completely digital so the sound is clean and allows you to get great tone from GarageBand’s built-in amps and stomp boxes.

The iPad’s touch screen surface and GarageBand’s drum and keyboard graphic interface allow you to play the internal instrument sounds without the need to purchase an external MIDI controller. However if you do decide to connect an external MIDI controller check out how to connect an external MIDI controller to your iPad to see what you might need.


Guitar Practice Amp / Computer All-N-One Setup $2,500

Three Easy Music Recording Setups for Guitarists - Orange OPC

This second guitar-focused setup is a bit nostalgic and an absolutely brilliant concept if you ask me. It’s the Orange OPC all-in-one- recording studio which is a guitar practice amp, computer, audio interface and daw. This computer by British amp maker Orange Amps looks like a standard practice guitar amp but features:

  • Core i3 Processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB Hard Drive, wifi, USB 3.0, hdmi, Windows 7 64-bit
  • Built-in Audio interface with analog and digital audio connections
  • Presonus Studio One Orange Edition daw software
  • Mixcraft 5 daw software
  • IK Multimedia AmpliTube and AmpliTube Orange
  • Toontrack EZ Drummer Lite
  • Lick Library Guitar Lessons

So what’s needed to make this a complete setup?

  1. Orange OPC all-in-one computer amp $1,995
  2. Computer Monitor $199
  3. MIDI Controller (keyboard, guitar or MIDI wind controller)

Some of the advantages of this product are its ease of use and the ability to plug your guitar into the amp and begin playing straight away. The pre-installed Windows 7 operating system has been optimized for music recording and production so there’s no OS tweaking needed.  Currently this product is only available in the UK, and Europe but may soon be available in the US.


Laptop with Stomp Pedal Audio Interface $2,150

Three Easy Music Recording Setups for Guitarists - Guitar Rig Kontrol

The third music recording and production setup for guitarists is probably the most traditional setup, but with one twist.  It’s a laptop music recording workstation with Guitar Rig 5 Kontrol Edition $499 by Native Instruments.  Guitar Rig Kontrol edition is a hardware / software package that includes Guitar Rig Pro amp simulation software and a pedalboard MIDI controller with built-in audio interface. Guitar Rig Pro is one of the most powerful amp simulation and FX software packages on the market. Combined with the pedalboard controller, using wah-wah, reverb, distortion, delay and other effects are only a foot step away. And let’s be honest, in the middle of a ripping guitar lick, the last thing you want to do is reach for the computer mouse to change an effect.

While this setup is the most powerful and flexible of the three mentioned, it’s also just as easy to use as the others. So what’s required?

  1. Laptop such as a Dell xps 15 X15L Laptop $899 or Apple Mac-Book Pro 13.3-Inch Laptop $1,138
  2. DAW.   If you go with a Mac and are looking for something easy and powerful, use GarageBand which is free with a Mac. You can always upgrade to Logic Express later. If you go with a powerful PC such as the Dell xps, give FL Studio 9 Producer Edition $199 a try which has a simple to use interface and lots of instruments and FX plug-ins. One advantage to FL Studio is that once you purchase a version of the software all future updates are free. This will save a load of money over time.
    See Recording Software | DAWRound-up for a complete listing of other popular DAWs.
  3. Guitar Rig 4 kontrol Edition $499. Audio interface is built-in.
  4. MIDI Controller (keyboard, Guitar or EWI) such as the M-Audio Axiom 49-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller $349 which is a great all around controller for playing keyboard parts, tapping out drum parts with the drum pads and controlling your DAW with the knobs and faders.
  5. Speakers. Finish off your rockin’ guitar setup with some reference monitor speakers such as the popular M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 $149

Additional iPad Guitar Audio Interfaces

While I recommend you check out Apogee’s Jam for the iPad and Nl’s Guitar Rig Kontrol for computer setups, there are other guitar iPad and computer interfaces on the market that are worth mentioning. Here are a few of them:

  • iRig – Audio Interface Adapter for iPhone, iPod, iPad $39.99 – This small interface comes with a free app store download of an ios version of Amplitube. The interface isn’t digital like jam and uses the iPad or iPhone’s audio headphone connector to interface with the device. There are in-app purchases that allow you to increase the capability of the amp simulator software. iRig, while great sounding is limited in is usefulness. Unless you’re using it to play live in place of actual effect pedals, you won’t be able to use the amp simulation software to record into other iPad apps.
  • AmpKit LiNK Guitar Interface for iPhone and iPod Touch $29.95.  Ampkit link is an analog iPad interface and amp simulation package that is very comparable to iRig.
  • i-JAM 3-N-1 by RapcoHorizon $110 – This analog interface for the ipad is also a practice interface and MP3 player. You can use this to plug in headphones and play along to MP3 music.
Want more studio recording solutions?  Check out my Home Recording Studio Tour for more tips on home studio setups.

Stephan Earl

Composing, recording and producing music in the home studio environment for over 25 years, musician and author Stephan Earl now enjoys sharing his home studio setup experience with other home studio recording musicians via HomeMusicProduction.com.