So, I've been playing guitar for around 5 years, and I've amassed lots of other instruments since then. I have a banjo, mountain dulcimer, classical guitar, ukulele, harmonicas...etc. I've been writing a lot lately and I'm thinking I might give this singer-songwriter thing a shot. Right now I'm recording myself through a cassette recorder and I also have an app on my phone for recording...but I feel like I can't really show my "chops" (if you can call it that haha) without being able to put more than one instrument into my songs. What would I want to buy to be able to record multilayered stuff? I don't really care about top of the line everything, just nice stuff for a reasonable price. I really like the kind of lo-fi sounds of Sam Beam's (Iron & Wine) Home Recordings album. So I guess what I'm saying is that I specifically DON'T want really high quality gear, I kind of like the ambiance of the background fuzziness.
Audacity is a free program, and get a Blue Yeti microphone. That's as simple as I can figure.
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Audacity is a free program, and get a Blue Yeti microphone. That's as simple as I can figure.

But, if I may add, Reaper is also free, and is as close to professional recording programs you'll get for free... It's really good, it has a huge amount of VSTs, mixing possibilities,...
The Blue Yeti still is the one of the best things I've bought for my guitar playing, because that way, I could really hear what I play, and find mistakes.
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REAPER. win.
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If you're wanting to start recording, you have 2 main choices - software or multitracker.

With software, you'll need to purchase an interface which allows you to hook up to your PC, you'll also need the software. Like the previous people said, Reaper is a popular choice because it has a free trial period which never ends, although you're supposed to pay for it. Once you've got yourself set up, you'll have a large learning curve whilst you get to know the software and also while you find all the plugins & add ons you need to make it work how you want to.

With a multitracker, you get everything you need in a single unit. They can do everything you can do with software and usually have a good range of effects and EQ, but you obviously can't add extra plugins etc on if it doesn't have the type of reverb you like. They're also more portable, so you could take it along to any jam sessions, gigs etc you might want to record.

Whichever route you take, you'll also need a mic & some headphones/monitors. If you're just getting started, you're probably better off with headphones over monitors and Shure are always the obvious choice when it comes to mics.
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having used both i find the pc to be more artistically liberating. that is, if you put in a little bit of time and effort the sounds you can create are almost limitless and the amount of free (that is open source and royalty free) samples, vst's and vsti's (effects and virtual instruments) is staggering.
Last edited by z4twenny at Nov 23, 2011,
I´d get a cheap audio interface, maybe M-Audio, an MXL Mic and Reaper to start with.
Hope that helps!