Ryan Carmelo Briones

mostly harmless

garageband and electric guitars April 16, 2007

...or, why sales people are stupid.

(If you don't care about the back story, skip ahead to The Goods)

For some reason I've recently gotten the itch to play my guitar. So as we were out shopping on Sunday I thought, "Why don't I pick me up some strings and play a little?" Both of my guitars, acoustic and electric, have really old strings. So I was all set to stop by the brand new Guitar Center store in Florence and buy a set of acoustic strings when I started to get aspirations. Could I actually use my electric guitar hooked to the line in on my MacBook Pro coupled with GarageBand as a replacement for the pedals I don't have? (GarageBand comes free and preloaded on my MacBook Pro) This is a great idea! I could play my electric and not have to worry about the loudness of that amp and I'd have recording already baked in and everything! So, as I entered Guitar Center I started to take a look at their 1/4" cables, since I would need one to get going. (It's been that long since I've used my guitar) At that point I'm approached by a sales person with the usual "Is there anything I can help you with?" My normal answer would be a nice version of "Go Away", but I thought "maybe this guy knows about my GarageBand question..." At this point, alarms should have been going off in my brain "ALERT ALERT!! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?" But it was too late. The question had been asked. First off, I don't think the guy knew at all what GarageBand was, but he understood what I was trying to accomplish so he proceeded to show me a hardware/software combo from Line 6 to do what I wanted, amp modeling, effects, etc. The problem is that I didn't want to spend $99 on something I might already have access to. Then then guy walks me back to Pro Audio to check out another hardware/software combo. Sigh. This isn't what I want. The Pro Audio guy, realizing the Guitar guy had no idea what he was talking about, chimed in, "What exactly are you trying to do?" Finally! Maybe I'll get a good answer! So I asked my question about GarageBand only to be met once again with, "Oh, I haven't really messed with GarageBand." "What is it you guys actually DO here?", I thought. They have a TON of Mac equipment scattered throughout the Pro Audio section, they should know SOMETHING about it. In the end, frustrated, and having spent WAY too much time at Guitar Center while a very tired wife was waiting for me at Target, I resigned to buying some acoustic strings and some picks. What a waste. So this morning, while reading my regularly scheduled RSS feeds, I decided to do some quick searching on the subject. And that brings us to:

The Goods

After some well-crafted searches on the Google, I found this article about recording Guitars and Basses in GarageBand in the Apple online documentation. Perfect. I felt the steps were a BIT confusing, so hense this post, and the following steps to amp modeling and effects in GarageBand:

  1. Open GarageBand and start a New Music Project, or open an existing project if you have one

  2. Add a new Track, Track -> New Track (⌥⌘N)

  3. Choose Real Instrument

  4. Open the Track Info for the new Real Instrument track you've just created, Track -> Show Track Info (⌘I). When open you should see a sidebar on the right labeled Track Info

  5. Look to the very bottom and click the Details

  6. You can start out by going to Guitars in the tree view above Details and choosing different presets on the right and watch how they affect the Details below. As far as I can tell, all of the preset use manual Amp Simulation (ie amp modeling) so then,

  7. Start tweaking the Details a bit. See what you can come up with. It looks like you can only use two effects at a time, and amp simulation is one of them.

Granted, I haven't tried any of this out yet. I still have to buy a cord, an 1/8" adapter and some new strings. :)