#1
Ok, so a little over a year ago I bought this Microphone, a Peavey (PV i100), because my friend told me miccing sounds much better than line-ining (without cabinet modelers, anyway).

I guess this only holds true if you buy a nice mic, heh. The PV i100 is absolute ass. Unless you're using it for vocals during a band practice, it's godawful. When miccing an amp it produces this horrible nasally sound and hissing noise. Yup; time to buy a new mic.

Right now, for recording, I use a little Orange 15w combo. I own that crappy Rouge 2x12 120w combo from Musicians friend as well as a B-52 LG100A with a Behringer 4x12 cabinet. I have a Roland Microcube somewhere. The Orange is the only thing I seem to be able to get a decent tone out of.

So yeah, I just want to know what mic/mixer to buy to get a decent sound.
I've heard that the Shure SM57 or whatever is nice, but I think it's cardioid, like the PVi100... I need something that doesn't require phantom power, because the only mixers that have that feature are too large and expensive for my needs. Another option I took into consideration was just forgetting about a mixer and getting a mic preamp.

I am completely clueless. Everytime I make decisions on my own they end up being retarded.

Sorry for the ridiculously long post for such a simple question. Heh.
#2
the SM 57 is a dynamic mic and does not need phantom power, and it is a very nice mic. obviously there are better mics out there (Bill reviewed a dynamic he said is comprable for less in the sticky, but i dont remember the name). but there is a reason the SM 57 is a studio standard, it is very well built, tough, is great sounding for multiple aplications, and can be used for others in a pinch.

ok, what exactly are you trying to record and what is your budget? also, how are you trying to record? are you trying to do a lot of instruments at once, or just one at at time? are you recording to your computer or to some other device? these things all matter quite a bit when recording.

ill try to answer some basic stuff. if you are recording to your computer, you probably dont want to use your sound card unless you have one that is built for recording. if you have a firewire card, you will probably want to use that, but USB works well too (just has some latency sometimes). now, that means you want to find something that can bypass your sound card. audio interfaces work quite well for this, and if you are getting a good mixer you probably only need one with two inputs. this gives you a stereo signal that can get the stereo signal from your mixer. the other option is a mixer that has USB out, though i have no experience with these so i dont know how good they are.

number of inputs depends on what you are recording. drums require at least three mics, one for each drum is best, and four will get the job done very well. that is going to be the most you need for one istrument, so if you are recording everything separate, four inputs is all you need. other than that, you need one input per guitar, one per bass, and one per vocals, if you are doing everything together.

now, if all you want to record is guitar, there are some good one input audio interfaces out there to look into. i have an M-Audio FastTrack that works quite well, other people like the line 6 thingy, and there are a few others that get recomended in R&R all the time so look for those in here and look them up online. most seem to be about $100-$120 for one input, then about $50 more if you want two inputs

try to clear up a bit what you are trying to do and how much you can spend, and ill try to help you out a bit more.
#3
The only instrument I am recording is a guitar. I use pre-sampled drums (Drumkit From Hell) and my friend usually does the bass tracks.
Well, USB interfaces are out of the question. My system clocks in at about 400mhz and has 127 (no, not 128) MB of RAM. Honestly, I could care less about those. I've heard some folks' recordings where they used nothing but the mic or line-in input (which is what I am using) on their soundcard, and with alot of EQing, managed to make it sound quite acceptable. I use a program that supports VST plugins, which are an absolute must to get any kind of decent sound.

If it hasn't become obvious, my budget is low, man. Probably around $200, which is enough for a small mixer and that Shure SM57. As for the programs I use... Audacity to record the guitars, and a neat little program called ModPlug Tracker to mix everything.