Garage Band How to with your Electric Guitar
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Garage Band and Your Guitar

Garageband is pretty handy if you own a guitar. First of all, it's FREE with your computer. Free is good. But there are a couple of things that make it very useful with your guitar. Here is some information on what I have done, through trial and error over the years. Hopefully it will help you. :-)

First, you need a device, basically a pre amp, to bridge the gap and make the guitar loud enough to mix in Garageband. Can you just plug your guitar into your Mac with just a cord adaptor? Yes. But it will not have enough power to be heard? Not really. (I experimented with this myself).

There are a host of devices, but I use (for simplicity) an M-Audio Fast Track. Since the version I have, there are some newer ones out, but they should all essentially do the same thing. Also, it included a software program, which I never installed, since it's already compatible with Garageband out of the box. (Oh yeah!)

The device is USB. Once plugged into your computer, open Systems Preferences, choose the Sound icon, and choose the Input tab. Choose M-Audio Fast Track. This will tell the computer to use the M-Audio device, instead of the built in microphone on your computer. (it's easy to change back the same way for other projects, or normal everyday use).

Don't worry that it says "The selected device has no input controls" It automatically works with Garageband.



m-audio fast track device


Now I recommend you plug in your guitar to the M-Audio, and be ready to play around with Garageband and record if you want. Once the guitar is plugged in, and the M-Audio device is plugged in with the USB, a blue light on the front will let you know it is now powered.

If you strum the guitar, you will see the green lights flash on the front of the M-Audio device. It recognizes your instrument.

Now go ahead and open Garageband.

You should see a screen like below:

Now trust me, there is a ton of very cool stuff this software can do. And I will go over much of that later. But for now, let's cover getting your guitar hooked up so you can start playing, rocking, and later, recording. :-)

Once you open Garageband, you will see a screen like this below. Notice I have clicked on and hi lighted the Guitar Icon. (Hmm, looks like a Les Paul)


garageband screenshots


Double click on the Guitar Icon, and you will see a new window like below. In the "Save As": field, you can name your new project whatever you want. (the "Where" only determines where you want to save the project, and in my case, I like to save files to my desktop).

The Tempo (of your project) is set by you. In this example, it's at 120 bpm (beats per minute). You can change it by moving the slider. (don't worry, you can change the tempo later on your project if you want to).

The key is set as well, in the case, "C", and in Major. If you don't know what key you want, just start it with this setup, you can change it later as well.

Hit the Create button to start.



You should now see a screen similar to this. Notice in the upper right corner two buttons, the one in blue is labeled GUITAR TRACK, the other is MASTER TRACK. When you click on the Guitar Track, you should see the front of an amplifier. Clicking on the Master Track will show you the back of the amp. I've added two extra closeup images below to help see what we are doing.


Notice where the red arrow is pointing. That is a pull down menu, that lists some preset guitar / amp setups for various guitar sound / tones. I have chosen "Clean Combo" her, just to play with for our example. Choosing a setup will automatically show a specific amp selection, and the pedals to go with it.

In this setup, we have a small all-in-one guitar amp (reminds me of a Vox) and two pedals, a Sustain and a Delay pedal. If you click on the foot pedals, you can adjust them. But before we play with that, let's make sure you can hear your guitar, and can record.



garageband guitar tracks


Here in the image below, you can see what is going on with the guitar track. Notice it is labeled with the Clean Combo tag also. There is a small dial for balance, and a volume control for this specific track.

At this point, you are probably strumming your guitar and going WTF, I don't hear anything. So let's take care of that now. :-)


On to the next page ------>



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