Join Todd Howard for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring Electric Guitar tracks and monitoring, part of GarageBand '11 Essential Training.
To create an electric guitar track, let's press Option+Command+N and select Electric Guitar and before I click Create, let's just peek in the Instrument Setup panel and make sure that the guitar is connected into the Apogee ONE, which it is. And also I can choose, if I have a USB interface or a FireWire interface that has multiple inputs, you will see that those will all list out here. You would have Mono 1, Mono 2, Mono 3, Mono 4 if you had four instrument inputs. This one just has one. That's actually why it's called the ONE. So Mono 1 is already set and Built-in Line Output is fine for how we want to be hearing our sound.
And with electric guitar we want to make sure that the check box next to "I want to hear my instrument as I play and record" is checked. The reason this is checked is because when you're playing your electric guitar through GarageBand you want to able to able to use GarageBand's amps effects and stompboxes as you play and actually hear your guitar coming through your speakers or headphones with all of the effects applied that you have chosen. The future is what's known as monitoring, and you always have the option of monitoring what you're recording as you are recording it, but it's most important with electric guitar sounds. By the way of example, let me actually create a real instrument track, while the electric guitar is plugged in, and show you what you get if you didn't choose electric guitar as your track type.
Okay, so basically-- (music playing) You have a clean electric guitar with no effects applied to it whatsoever. It doesn't really sound very good. It's just your dry, dead guitar. It sounds fine! Just doesn't sound like it's plugged in like an electric guitar. It sounds like you are playing an electric guitar with no amp. So that's not what we want in this case, so this is a good opportunity to show you how to delete a track. A track that's selected can easily be deleted just by pressing Command+Delete on your keyboard.
You can go up to the Track menu and choose Delete Track if you want as well, but Command+Delete is the shortcut, and I find end up doing that quite often. In fact, it's just as easy to duplicate tracks with Command+D. So if I actually have a few tracks here and I want to get rid of them, I can hit Command+Delete and Command+Delete and get rid of those. You can tell that monitoring is turned on because the Monitoring button here in the Track header is glowing yellow and if you need to turn Monitoring off for one reason or another on the fly, you can just tap it and get that turned off. Okay, but now we have electric guitar coming in through the Apogee ONE in Mono and it's in Channel 1. And currently the default is the Clean Combo amp, just for this Sustain pedal, and so let's see with this how that sounds like.
(music playing) So it sounds good, a nice little English Combo amp, sort of the British invasion amp, got that biting distortion with the sparkling highs. You get a nice little description here if you mouse over your amps, of what they do and what they are based on. These are all sort of based on classic amp combos. You can use the menu at the top of the Guitar Track Info panel to choose from a variety of different guitar amp and stompbox preset combinations, and you can also press the period key to advance through the list, or the comma key to go back.
So you can make your way through that list and play your instrument and see what it sounds like. (music playing) And hit period. (music playing) Hit period again. (music playing) Till you find something you like. (music playing) Basically, I am seeing too that my guitar level is absolutely pegging every single thing that I play. (music playing) Coming out too high, so I want to edit my input level, and that's something that you can get by double-clicking on the amp itself. Anytime you have your amp combo selected, double-click it and you have sort of access to that same row of Track Info panel stuff that you saw when we were looking at the acoustic instrument.
You can add effects and EQ and things like that, as well as adjust--like I was going to do here--our input recording level. So you can do that manually just by clicking and dragging the slider down, and you can also turn down your instrument volume itself. In this case, I am actually going to bring the volume on the guitar itself down a little bit, see if I can get a better signal in here. (music playing) As we have seen in the previous two movies, all of these settings can be modified.
So with electric guitar tracks you have three general areas you can make adjustments. One is the guitar amp itself, which is this front panel, and this is sort of meant to represent the knobs and dials that would be on this physical amp, if you were playing it. So you have your Gain, Bass, Mids, and Treble to adjust your EQ of the sound overall and the presence overall, which sort of brightens your sound. (music playing) You can hear it get brighter (music playing) and then get a little darker. (music playing) So I have to just find the sweet spot. (music playing) Okay and if we want to add a little bit of reverb to it from the amp, we can do that.
(music playing) Bring it down. (music playing) You can make all those adjustments. You can also adjust the effects that are used on this track. These are more of the track effects, so Compression. You might want to add something else like maybe a Chorus, but these are things that when it comes to electric guitar tracks, you usually like to reserve for the stompbox models. You don't want to apply distortion in the track effect on this; you might want to use a distortion pedal for guitar.
So I am going to double-click to go back to the front of the amp here, and if I double-click on the stompboxes, you will see that I have access to fifteen different Effect pedals here. You can use up to five together, and you can just click and drag them into place or change around your order by clicking and dragging. And then when I click on the individual stompboxes, I can adjust each of their various parameters, taking them out by dragging them back into the bin. If you ever need to bypass one of your stompboxes, you can just click on it and then click on the big button at the bottom. That's basically why they call it a stompboxes.
This is meant to be a model of guitar pedals that you would just step on on the floor to turn on and off. So you can just click those. If you actually just want to hear your Sustaining Chorus without the overdrive, you can sort of skip it, just by turning it off. (music playing) And that's how easy it is to set up an electric guitar track, and as we go into recording the song, we will actually work with a lot of these parameters in more detail. For now that's a quick look, and I just encourage you to come in here and experiment.
All the stuff is about plugging your instrument in, getting some of these sounds up, twisting the dials, and finding what sounds good. We could very easily spend an entire chapter delving into each and every one of the guitar amps and stompboxes available in GarageBand, but now that you know how to select them and how to add them to your pedalboard, and how to move them around to alter the order that your guitar sound travels through them, it's up to you to plug your guitar in and start experimenting. They each have a small set of parameters with clickable dials and switches, and since there is no right way or wrong way to use them, just use your ears and discover what amazing custom tones you can create.
Anytime you stumble upon something mint, just click Save Setting and make up a fun descriptive name that will allow you access that electric guitar tone within any of your GarageBand projects. Most people think of GarageBand as a recording application only, but it can also be a very powerful application for guitar practice and even performance. Plug into your interface, run a line out to a mixer and speakers, or a full PA, and you have an infinite number of guitar stacks and pedalboard configurations to choose from, on the fly.
- Connecting instruments, MIDI controllers, mics, and speakers
- Creating a project and specifying tempo, time signature, and key
- Jumpstarting the recording process with Magic GarageBand
- Recording real instruments, software instruments, and electric guitar tracks
- Compositing a final track from multiple takes
- Creating, naming, and organizing song sections using the Arrangement track
- Equalizing and compressing tracks
- Adding reverb and echo effects
- Sharing songs with iTunes and Logic Pro
- Archiving GarageBand project files
- Taking guitar and piano lessons
- Creating podcasts, movies scores, and ringtones