I'm sure this has been covered, but I can't really find the thread that answers it for me.

I just started learning to play guitar back in December so I've been shy to spend money on too much stuff until my playing gets better. However, I am trying to improve the quality of my recordings as efficiently as possible since I mainly want to learn to write songs.

Currently, I'm plugging my acoustic-electric straight into a ART Tube MP Studio preamp and then just into my onboard computer audio with an adapter from the 1/4" cable to the computer's line in. For vocals, I use an Audio Technica M4000S plugged through the same preamp. I also just use a couple of cables that I have that came with packs, i.e. the Fender Strat Pack.

My problem is that I get a severe amount of white noise with either one. I'm using Acid Xpress right now, and the white noise is well over half way on the volume meter when I arm something for recording. I'd really like to get that noise way down, but I'm not sure the best way to go about it.

I know my stuff isn't great, and I'd like to upgrade, but I want to get the most "bang for my buck" to keep my budget in check at least for now.

Also, a side question: I tried recording my electric guitar straight into the preamp but could hardly get any volume out of it even at max volumes on everything. Is it safe to plug my practice amp into the preamp and then to the computer, or will it be too much power and blow something?

Thanks for any help/advice!

It's almost certainly not white noise (which is a very specific type of noise) Use a frequency analyser to target what frequency it's occurring at and EQ it out with a parametric EQ, or use a noise gate.

What you are likely getting is just noise from the cables and your crappy soundcard/adapter combo, what you really need is an audio interface.
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Thanks! It wasn't exactly white noise, but I wasn't sure what to call it. I actually found at least part of the problem. I have a web cam hooked up and apparently the mic stays permanently active. I unplugged it and the noise dropped almost completely. Still not perfect of course, but good enough for me, for now at least.

Any tips on the electric guitar and whether or not it's safe to use the amp?
it depends on the preamp, some of those can take line level signals, some can't I suggest some amp modeling software like Amplitube or Guitar Rig.
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