Guitar to USB: Great for Practice, Surprisingly Easy

imageThere are numerous times that I don’t want to plug-in an amp.  The majority of those times, I’m just too damn lazy.  But on other occasions, I might be trying to learn a song and want to listen through headphones while I play along.

During these times, I tend to put up with the various poor quality amp simulators on my computer (whatever comes built-in to Logic 9), and run my guitar straight into my mbox.

Granted, that’s a pretty simple setup, but it’s more gear than I want to have piled up on the couch.  Remember, I’m really lazy.  So I decided to try one of the generic guitar>USB cables that Amazon has for under $15.

I spent no more than 10 seconds researching this purchase.  I searched “guitar to USB” and picked the cheapest one with over a 3 star rating.  I had no idea what o/s it would work with, or how it would work at all.  As the photo shows, it just has a thick USB end, which I assumed contained the analog>digital converter.

To my surprise, it only took another 10 seconds to make the thing work.  I fired up Logic, plugged the USB end in my computer and the 1/4″ end in my guitar.  Set my audio input to something that had USB in the name and I was off.

Does it sound good?  No.  But that’s the Logic amp modeling’s fault.

Is it noisy?  Kinda The connection on the 1/4″ side doesn’t seem terribly secure.  Probably a bad solder job.  If I don’t bump the cable it’s quiet.  I might have to tend to that.

Would I record with it?  Probably not.  There’s a lot of latency from this thing.  Normally I don’t touch the i/o buffer settings (I think default is 256).  For this, I had to set it to the lowest value (32).  Even then, I could still perceive a bit of a lag.  But it’s certainly not a problem for just practicing where perfection is not critical.

All and all, not bad for the cost of a few packs of strings.


  • G. Edward Jones

    It looks pretty similar to the cable that comes with Rocksmith. I haven’t tried plugging that into my laptop, but now I need to..

  • Chad

    I gotta get one of those so I can skype my internet girlfriend and play her the dave matthews!