Learning to record your guitar for the first time can be a difficult experience even on a clean and intuitive digital audio workstation (DAW) like GarageBand.
To make the recording process easier and more efficient for you, let's take a step-by-step look at how to record your guitar in GarageBand for macOS.
Choose the method for recording your guitar
There are two ways you can record your guitar depending on what type of guitar you have and what sound you want to choose. These are:
Record your guitar with one or more microphones
Recording your guitar via a direct input (DI)
If you want to record the unplugged sounds of your guitar or if you want to record your guitar through an amplifier, the first method is for you. This is perfect for acoustic guitars, electro-acoustic guitars (without a plug or through an amplifier), and electric guitars (through an amplifier).
There are several factors to consider when recording your guitar with microphones, but the end results can be fantastic. This is how most guitars are recorded professionally.
The second method is best when you want to take full advantage of GarageBand's built-in presets and all of their advantages Amp designer and Pedal board Plugins. It's much more practical and requires less preparation than the first method, even though your sound is not as authentic.
This second method is perfect if you have an electro-acoustic guitar or an electric guitar and just want to experiment with a variety of virtual amps and presets for more control over customizing your guitar track. This method is also much quieter than playing through a physical amplifier, which means you don't have to worry as much about disturbing someone.
If you're not sure where to start, check out our guide to recording your acoustic and electro-acoustic guitar (this works for electric guitar recording too if you follow the "electro-acoustic guitar" section) where we have the Describe each method, how they differ from each other, and some good microphone positions if you are using a microphone or two.
Both methods follow the same general steps when recording on GarageBand. However, because the preparation is different, you will get different results.
Now that you've selected your preferred method, let's move on to recording your guitar on GarageBand.
Step 1: Make sure you are all set up
If you are recording with microphones, make sure they are in the correct position and connected to your audio interface (if using XLR microphones) or your computer (if using USB microphones).
If you're recording your guitar through a DI, just make sure it's connected to your computer through an audio interface.
Also, don't start recording if you at least don't have headphones to listen to your recording and hear it during playback. Make sure they're plugged into either your audio interface, your USB microphone (if allowed), or your Mac.
Step 2: create a new project
When you're all set up, open GarageBand and select Empty project. If GarageBand opens a previous project, just choose file at the top left of the screen, then select New.
Step 3: Check that your audio interface or USB microphone is selected
Go to in the top left of your screen GarageBand > Settings, then Audio or Audio / MIDI.
Under the Input device In the pop-up menu, make sure your audio interface or USB microphone is selected. Once you've connected your headphones to your audio device or USB microphone, just select them from the pop-up menu for Output device.
If you use two USB microphones to record your guitar in stereo, GarageBand will not recognize either of them immediately. Fortunately, with a little tweaking, you can still use more than one USB mic on GarageBand.
If you'd rather plug your headphones into your Mac, choose External headphones or Built-in exit on older devices.
Step 4: choose your track type
Of the Choose a track type Choose either an audio track from the menu, depending on whether you're using a microphone or recording your guitar directly into GarageBand.
It should be said, however, that once you've selected them, you can toggle between both types of audio tracks by changing the preferences in the Sound Library (which we will get into later).
If you're using two or more microphones to record (or using both a microphone and a DI as two different tracks), you can press to add more tracks Command + Option + N..
At this point it is a good idea to save your project as well Cmd + S.. Remember to save often!
Step 5: Make sure Entrance Monitoring and Recording Enable are selected
It's best to listen through your headphones while you set the EQ on your guitar track, and make sure your input is picking up the sound you want.
It's best to make the option to turn your surveillance on and off as accessible as possible.
To do this, Ctrl-click the selected track and select it Configure the track header from the options. In the pop-up menu, make sure that Entrance monitoring is checked. Do this for all of your tracks.
An icon should appear on your lane that you can toggle on or off.
If you have more than one lane make sure too Activate recording is selected from the same pop-up menu, which should cause another icon to appear on your track. That way you can choose which track to record and you can record multiple tracks at the same time.
Step 6: choosing your preferences
GarageBand's sound library lets you choose and customize the presets to use with your guitar.
Your sound library should be on the left and you can show or hide it by pressing Y.. From here you can choose a variety of presets for your guitar track. Just click on one of the tabs and get started!
If you select one of these presets, your guitar track will have a different EQ, which you can also adjust via the corresponding one Smart Controls area that appears under your trail. You can also show or hide this by pressing B..
With a combination of finding and tweaking the right preset, you should be able to get the sound you want.
If you're recording your guitar with one or more microphones, it's best to stick to the presets below Acoustic guitar This works with your microphones to give you the best sound possible.
Use the sounds below Electric guitar and bass generates a variety of virtual amps and pedals for you to try out. Plus, you can customize these presets with GarageBand's amazing format Amp designer and Pedalboard plugins, located in the upper right corner of your Smart Controls area.
Step 7: Using GarageBand's Amp Designer Plugin
Selection of GarageBands Amp designer on the right side of yours Smart Controls area You have access to a large number of amplifier presets and you can create your own amplifier, choosing between amplifier, housing and microphone type. You can save custom amps using the drop down menu at the top of the Amp Designer.
You can also choose from a variety of amp presets from the drop-down menu or a pre-configured model (consisting of amplifier, cabinet, EQ type and microphone type) that you can adjust using the built-in controls of each type of amp.
Step 8: using the GarageBand Pedalboard plug-in
Next to the Amp Designer button is the Pedal board Button that opens your pedalboard plug-in. Here you can click and drag the pedals Pedal Browser on the right to yours Pedal areaHere you can tweak, drag, and rearrange your pedals.
There are a number of preconfigured options in the drop-down menu at the top. You can also open a router above your pedals to control the signal flow of different pedal combinations.
The perfect DAW for beginners
And there you have it! Following these steps should help you navigate GarageBand while getting the best recording out of your guitar.
It can be a little tricky to find your way around at first, but luckily GarageBand has a clean, easy-to-navigate interface that is designed to make learning this skill all the more fun and intuitive.
GarageBand is the perfect DAW if you're new to audio production. It's easy to try new things and learn new skills. So why not see all that it has to offer in this amazing app?
9 Reasons GarageBand is the Best DAW for Beginners on macOS
Not sure whether to choose GarageBand as your startup DAW? We have a list of reasons why you should try it.
About the author
(24 articles published)
Soham is a musician, writer and player. He loves all things creative and productive, especially when it comes to music and video games. Horror is his preferred genre and he is often heard talking about his favorite books, games and miracles.
From Soham De
Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up for our newsletter to receive tech tips, reviews, free e-books, and exclusive offers!
One more step …!
Please confirm your email address in the email we just sent you.