#3
When I plug my guitar into my line in it works, but it doesn't have the characteristics of an amp... it sounds "meh" you know, eq flat across the board.

EDIT: Through a ZOOM 505II, like the guy below me suggests.

I used the line in to record this:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=kjCb3MArmNU

Notice how bad it sounds.
#6
yea i have a ZOOM G2.1u and it sounds nice running through the computer... i definitely suggest it
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#8
^ i get sound only in the left speaker when using my fast track. guitar plays in mono, and the input is expecting stereo. so if you use a stereo cable instead of a mono cable, you can get sound only on the left side.

i use my computer as an amp all the time, so its not hard to do. i have a wierd set up though, so i wont tell you what i do. basicly you are going to need a way to amplify your guitar signal, a way to get your guitar into the computer, and some sort of program running that allows you to have your input come out the speakers. you can get a usb or firewire audio interface that has a preamp and lets you connect to your computer while bypassing the soundcard. you can also get a preamp and actually run through your soundcard (not always a good idea if you have a bad soundcard). the best thing to do is look around on some sites to see what is out there with these two options. try someplace like musicians friend to see what is in your price range, then look at some reviews of the things you are considering.