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What Do I Need to Play Guitar Through PC?

By Edited Sep 6, 2016 1 1

What do you need to play guitar through PC? This is a common question most beginners to computer guitar playing ask. You can use your computer with special software to create the sounds of amplifiers and different effects and record yourself playing just like you would normally do with your own amplifier. You can even hook up newer amplifiers that have support for it and play through those on your computer too. This technology is called “amp modeling.”Another way you can hook up to your computer and play is with a MIDI or musical instrument digital interface device and hook up to your computer to play guitar through your PC.

How to Get Started

 The easiest way to get started playing guitar through your PC is to buy a USB guitar interface such as the Multimedia Stealth Plug, a Line 6 POD device or other similar interface device. You need these USB devices for your guitar so you can use amp modeling software and start creating sounds on your computer. You can even hook up your own pedals, amplifier, and other equipment to the USB interface and start playing through the software. It's often easier to just use the modeling software since it contains many effects and amplifier models to get the tones and sounds of your favourite artists. An example of good amp modeling software is AmpliTube by IK Multimedia or the Gear Box software offered by Line 6. There are others as well such as Guitar Rig which will do the same job.

What Do You Need to Play Guitar Through PC?

  • Guitar

  • USB device like a Line 6

  • Amp modeling software like AmpliTube

  • Good guitar cable

  • Computer speakers

  • Quality headphones

Once you have a USB device you first need to install the amp modeling software or you won't hear any sounds coming out of your guitar. Many USB devices will work with different software packages. For example, my Line 6 USB device works with the AmpliTube software I have. You may have to check with the manufacturer for compatibility but most devices should work fine. After you install the software it's just a matter of plugging the USB device to your USB port on your computer and then plugging in your guitar. These devices allow you to use either headphones or your own computer speakers . Once you're up and running you can fiddle around with the software and try different amplifier models and effects.


On the screen you'll see an amplifier and you can turn and adjust the sound just like a real amp. The programs come with many pre-set sounds so you can begin to make great music right away. These programs have communities where you can exchange your own pre-sets with other people. This is a great way to get amp models of famous songs or artists you admire without having to figure out the sound yourself. The amp modeling programs also come with microphones, rack effects, bass models and other equipment too. It's like having an entire studio on your computer to make music with. The programs usually have a guitar tuner as well. AmpliTube even has a speed trainer and a four-track recorder built into the amp modelling software so you can practice licks and record tracks of music yourself.


One common problems is nor being able to hear sound. You need to plug your computer speakers into the headphone jack of your USB device to hear the sound of your guitar out of your speakers. For laptops it's often better to buy a good set of external speakers and use those as your speakers. If the sound coming out is garbled there is usually an option to turn down the quality of the sound coming out and at a lower setting you should get nice lean sounds. Another thing to consider is the levels on everything. You just can't crank everything to ten and expect a great sound you're going to have to fiddle with settings until you get the sounds you want.



Jan 15, 2012 9:07pm
Great article on playing Guitar through PC! I use GarageBand on my Mac and simply bought a guitar lead to headphone connector and plugged it straight in. The Line 6 USB hub would be a ton better though!

Also don't underestimate how much difference a good quality guitar lead makes. You can lose a lot of sound quality through a cheap one. It's worth spending up on!
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