So I bought a Shure SM57 to record acoustic & electric guitar but I don't know what the best, cheap way to record is. I mean I don't need a $1K mixer or anything but it's more of a hobby.

I heard running the mic to your sound card with an XLR adapter generates some crappy quality audio. I'm looking for at least decent.

Would I need to buy a preamp? If so, what's a good, yet low cost one (Under $100)
So like a Line 6 TonePort GX or TonePort UX2?

So it would look like this

Mic > Toneport > USB
yes but you may want to consider something with phantom power incase u decide u want a condensor mic for recording. the line 6 ux2 has phantom power.

oh and they are podux2 now not toneport ux2...u can prob get a used toneport cheap though
Cool, thanks.
But if I can get a Toneport ux1 for like $40-$50 cheaper, should I still go with the UX2?
Apparently the main difference between a Toneport and a POD Studio is software.
Main difference between UX1 and UX2 is 2 mic inputs (rather than 1) and phantom power.
I'll try to spring for a UX2. But if it gets a lot more expensive I'll go with a UX1.
So are Toneports/PODs really my best bet. My max is like $100 or so for a used one.
Toneports go for ~$80-ish used from what I've seen.
I've heard good things about M-Audio and PreSonus but I'm not sure which to get :/
yeah fast tracks can get the job done as well. although i would avoide the m-audio mobile pre if you see it. the lexicon alpha is a little out dated i believe but will also get the job done its prob cheaper than a fast track, but it dosen't have phantom power, the lexicon models does to but like i said it maybe a bit old.
I hear normal Fast tracks don't have phantom power. So should I aim for a Fast Track Pro? They cost just a bit less than a Toneport UX2.
So would you say the Fast Track Pro is on par with the UX2? I heard Fast Tracks are better if your micing your amp (which is what I'm doing), but I'm not entirely sure if that's the case.
Although the Fast Tracks generally don't come with any software.
Should Audacity suit my needs (I'm only doing single track recordings).
Fast Track Pro probably has better pre-amps, which is a big deal on dynamic mics. So you should prob go with the Fast Track Pro. I would say both are quality interfaces with the fast track maybe having slightly better preamps (technically you can adjust the UX2 but its not worth the extra steps.

Audacity will work for just laying something quick but I woildn't ever record a song or do much editing in Audacity. Reaper is a good alternative.
Thanks. I'll be sure to get Reaper and I'll try to get my hands on a Fast Track Pro this weekend.
Is $110 good for a used Fast Track PRO with no software but free mic cable?
Yes, if you need a good daw for free download podium free and reaplugs
and antress modern plugins
Thanks. Also if I see a UX2 for about 20 bucks less, with software, should I still go with the Fast Track Pro and go with that free software you listed.
Think about a future portable rig.

I always recommend people invest initially is a small rig that may be of limited quality, but will be useful someday when you have a $$$$$ studio, but the music is OUT THERE and not in your nice, posh studio.

An Alesis i02 works. No latency that I've experienced. Mic pres are okay. Phantom power. Even comes with Cubase, which is probably the worst DAW ever, but it works, and it's free, so screw it.

Again, portable. If the DAW on your laptop is not ProTools 8 Billion, at least it will record respectable WAV files that you can import to ProTools, ACID, Reaper...

I'd suggest building a guitar rig the same way. Think PA system. Start with the best sounding little practice amp or DI box you can find. Plug it into your stereo (I know, your Mom told you not to..)

Later, get a power amp and some PA speakers. Voila! A guitar rig. You can record direct AND mic the little PA and use either signal OR mix them.

You can also play live with it.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

What does that have to do with anything?

Thankfully TS already decided on an interface. Oh and look at that, it's portable. Oh and look at that, he can use it in the future when he has more stuff.