Connect an electric instrument

You can connect an electric instrument, such as an electric guitar or bass, to your computer to play and record in an audio track. You can record the sound from your guitar to an audio track, and use the amps and pedalboard effects to shape your guitar sound. There are several ways to connect an electric instrument to your computer.

Connect an electric instrument to your computer

Do one of the following:

  • Connect an audio interface to your computer’s Thunderbolt, USB, or FireWire port, then connect an electric instrument to the audio interface.

    Figure. Illustration of Thunderbolt connector.
    Figure. Illustration of USB and FireWire connector types.
  • Connect the electric instrument to a channel on the audio interface or the adapter cable, using a standard 1/4-inch tip-sleeve instrument cable.

    Figure. Illustration of Tip-Ring-Sleeve and Tip-Sleeve connectors.
  • If your computer has an audio input port, connect an electric instrument to the audio input port using an adapter cable. Choose Built-in Input as the track’s input source.

    Figure. Illustration of stereo miniplug connector.

After you connect an electric instrument, you choose the input source for the track you want to record to; you can also turn on monitoring to hear your instrument as you play. You can choose the input source in the New Tracks dialog when you create a new track, or choose it from the Input slot on the track’s channel strip in the Mixer or the inspector.

If you connect your electric instrument to an audio interface, check the manufacturer’s specifications to make sure the interface is compatible with Mac OS X and Core Audio. Also make sure the audio interface uses a format supported by your computer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which might include installing the correct driver on your computer.

Connecting some electric instruments, such as electric guitars, to your computer’s audio input port may result in a low-level input signal. To increase the input signal, you can connect the guitar to a preamplifier, and connect the preamplifier to your computer.