Must Have For Recording Guitar: The 4 Essentials For PRO Results!

What are the items that are “Must have For recording guitar”? There are a few things you need to get up and running, but the good news is…you probably already have some of them! Today we take a look at the bare minimum to getting started.


There are tons of reasons why you would want to start recording guitar at home. For people that are in a band, it can be an essential tool for writing and getting your song ideas down. You can also use recording as a practice tool. When you record yourself practicing you may hear some mistakes you make that are usually “lost in the moment”.

And then, for some people, they just want to record jam-along tracks to play guitar with. Maybe you want to do all of these things!

There are a million different reasons to want to record your guitar, but it can get pretty complicated. Today we will take a look at the different ways to get started, and what you need to start recording for the first time. We have gone over the easy ways to get started recording before, but that article was more on the technical side of things.

Let’s make this process as painless as possible, and go over the bare necessities of starting your journey to recording guitar! There are only four major components you need to get started, and we are not going to get fancy here at all. Let’s keep it simple…


Must Have For Recording Guitar #1: A Computer/Laptop

must have for recording guitar
You Do Not Need All Of This Stuff!

Is a computer a must have for recording guitar? In my opinion, yes. It is these days. You can still buy tape machines, and digital recorders, but there is no easier way than to use your computer. This is for a few reasons. The main reason is that most people already have a laptop or desktop computer these days.

Years ago, you had to have a pretty powerful computer to use a DAW and do any kind of recording. Up until recently, recording took up tons of RAM and having a powerful computer was your only option. That’s because digital audio workstations needed a ton of power back then. Technology was behind the curve when it came to digital production, especially in the early 2000’s.

But as usual, technology has caught up with the standards when it comes to recording. Even your less expensive laptops come with more than enough memory/RAM to run a simple recording program. In fact, your smartphone probably has enough power to run your basic recording programs these days!

So if you have a computer that has been made within the last 2-3 years, you probably have all you need to get started recording. It really doesn’t matter if you prefer Mac or PC. Most DAW programs can work with Windows and Mac OS just fine. Even budget computers have plenty of power these days to record guitar.

So you have your computer, what is another must have for recording guitar? The next one is pretty easy to come by these days as well!


Must Have For Recording Guitar #2: An Interface

Must Have For Recording Guitar: The 4 Essentials For PRO Results!
Focusrite Scarlett Interface

An Interface is another must have for recording guitar, and another great example of how technology has really come a long way in the last few years. USB interfaces were at one point, out reach for most consumers. They were only used by professional studios, and these interfaces usually had an expensive preamp built into them.

Likewise, you also needed tons of other hardware to go along with the interface back then. You needed outboard gear like rack compressors and mixing boards to go along with the interface. To put it lightly, having this kind of setup was not something you usually saw in someone’s bedroom!

So what is an interface? It is the bridge between your guitar signal, and your computer. Picture it like this: You plug up to your amp with a cord to get sound out of the amp. You plug into the interface to get sound into your computer.

But again, technology has really caught up with modern music production tools. This is a great thing, since you can easily buy an interface these days for a fraction of what they used to cost. I use the Focusrite Scarlett 212, and I have used it for years now.

There are tons of interfaces out there that will run you under $200 and be all that you need to get started recording. I recommend the Focusrite, because it is easy to use and comes with everything you need to get started! You simply plug your guitar into your interface, and the interface goes into your standard USB port on your computer! An interface is a must have for recording guitar, and it has never been this cheap before!

Note: Some effects processors like the Line 6 Helix can be used as an interface. Click here to read how to use the Helix as a stand alone interface!

Easy To Use!
Focusrite Scarlett
$119.99

The Focusrite Scarlett series has everything you need to start recording. You have a 1/4'' guitar port, and XLR port ready to go! Monitor with headphones or speakers.


Must Have For Recording Guitar #3: A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

A DAW is a program that organizes your tracks, and allows you to play them back. These are like multi-track tape machines from the old days, done in virtual form. You record a WAV file directly to your computer from your interface, and arrange it in your DAW. Having a DAW is an essential must have for recording guitar.

There are no lack of DAW programs floating around out there. There are tons of different digital audio workstation packages for every price bracket. Some people prefer the more complex programs like ProTools, or Ableton. But I like to keep things streamlined and simple.

There is one DAW program that I can recommend, and it is in everyone’s price range. First, it is free. You can eventually pay for the license, and even then it is only about $60. The DAW that I can whole-heatedly recommend is REAPER. This one is a no-brainer for most people. If a DAW is a must have for recording guitar, then Reaper is a must have for anyone that wants to record or produce.

Reaper is deceptive is how simple it looks. The truth is, Reaper is used all over the world in professional studios, as well as bedrooms and dorm rooms as well! It is a versatile program that can be as easy to use, or complicated as you like. Most people leave it in it’s default configuration, where you hit “record” and just play! It does not get any easier than that.

You can save all of your recordings with Reaper. The program also comes with production tools that you can use to edit your tracks. reaper has it’s own YouTube channel that hosts tutorials if you want to learn how to use this beast of a program to it’s full extent. Or…you can just press record and play your guitar!

Must Have For Recording Guitar: The 4 Essentials For PRO Results!
A screenshot of Reaper

Must Have For Recording Guitar #4: Processor/Amp Sim

The final ingredient you are going to need on our “must have for recording guitar” list is something to craft your tone. When you plug straight into your interface, the sound you’ll get is just the “dry” guitar. If you want distortion, amps, and effects…you need something to make all of those sounds!

The first option is to use an effects processor. Some guitarists may already have a processor that they use live, like the Line 6 Helix, or even something like the MOOER G Series. These work great as a basis for recording your guitar, especially if you already have patches programmed and ready to be recorded. You can just plug your processor straight into your interface, and start recording!

The second option, would be to use an amp sim. Amp sims take your dry guitar signal, and transform it, just like a processor. The difference is, amp sims are software that you download for your computer. There are lots of options out there, and they range from totally free… to extremely expensive. These amp sims are by far the easiest way to record your guitar. All you need is your guitar, computer, and interface!

No matter which way you decide to create your tone, there is an easy and inexpensive way to get everything up and running. Amp sim, or processor… it has never been easier to record at home. Something like the Line 6 Helix, or the POD GO has every sound you can imagine. Most processors are designed to work seamlessly with any USB interface.

I personally use Line 6 products, with my Focusrite Scarlett, running Reaper. This is the easiest and most ideal setup I have ever used over the past 20 years!

Affordable Power From Line 6!
Line 6 POD GO Effects Unit
$499.99

The Line 6 POD GO takes all of the great features of the Helix and pairs them with the simplicity of the POD Series making a perfect solution to your recording and gigging needs.*Comes with FREE road case when you click the link!


Must Have For Recording Guitar: Wrapping Up!

That’s right! We are done! It really only takes these 4 elements to get started recording guitar at home. It doesn’t matter if you want to eventually record professionally, or you just want to record your riffs for fun…it all starts with these 4 things.

It’s no wonder you see so many “bedroom producers” these days. In fact, a lot of songs that you hear on the radio are made with the elements we have listed here. Getting you hands on PRO gear is so easy now. There are more expensive options than the ones I have listed here, and that is a whole different rabbit hole to go down. Home audio has taken huge leaps over the last 5 years.

How you use it, is completely up to you. Not everyone is going to use Reaper to produce an entire album (even though you can!). Some people just want to hear themselves play, and there is nothing wrong with that! Hopefully we have made it clear just how easy it is to get started with recording your guitar today.

Christoper Horton

Christopher started playing guitar in 1994 at 14 years old. He has been a part of the Metal community for the last 25 years and has 11 solo albums under his belt. Christopher started his career in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 90's, later securing a major label record deal in the early 2000s under the name IAMSOUND. He worked briefly as a hired gun in Los Angeles before he opened his own studio in 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. Chris has worked with some big names over the years like Tripping Daisy, Kylesa, Baroness, and the legendary Reflux.

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