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How to record live acoustic guitars on your Mac with Garageband

Take GarageBand to new heights with our guide to recording your own live instruments on your Mac

GarageBand’s Software Instruments are amazing, especially when it comes to synths and strings that sound as authentic as the real thing, but one area that’s a little lacking is guitars.
The humble acoustic guitar might seem like the kind of instrument reserved for sleepy folk songs, but even the heaviest of rock numbers have the odd acoustic somewhere in the mix, adding some much- needed melody. With that in mind, adding your own acoustic guitar to your next GarageBand project should be a serious consideration. You’ll need some extra equipment such as an audio interface and a condenser microphone (we covered these in more detail in last issue’s creative project), but the rest of the work here can be done with clever mic placement and a little GarageBand trickery – as we’re about to show you.

1: A new track

Start a new project (use the Voice template) and set your first track’s input to your audio interface (as per its instructions). Turn off any pre-loaded effects.

2: Get set up

Set up your mic (use our annotated guide to the left for some tips) and hook it up to your Mac using the instructions that came with your audio interface.

3: Check your levels

Check the volume meters next to both the track name and at the bottom to ensure they’re neither too quiet nor loud. Around 75-80 per cent is ideal.

4: Push the button

When you’re happy both yourself and your guitarist can hear everything okay through your headphones, hit the record button to get going.

5: Close the gate

Noise Gates can help to reduce unwanted sounds made by accidental knocks on the instrument, and string scratches that can really ruin the crisp sound.

6: Add some EQ

Although you should avoid using too many effects, a few subtle EQ tweaks can go a long way to reducing any booming bottom-end or tinny highs.

7: To the chorus!

Adding in some subtle Chorus can help to boost the sound of your guitar and give it some vibrance in the mix alongside other instruments.

8: A little ‘verb

To finish off the adding of effects, add a small amount of reverb. This can especially help your guitar stand out if you’re recording it in a small or boxy room.

9: Fading out

Using automation (don’t forget to turn to page 48), fade out your guitar’s sound at the end of the song if your guitarist has let the strings ring out.

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