Please Help! Is recording a guitar supposed to be harder than brain surgery?

#1
Today I bought http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackUSB-main.html so that I could record my guitar directly into my PC, presumably getting better quality and making it easier to mix a song with other instruments.

I mean hell it says right on the website: "Just connect Fast Track USB to the USB port of your computer and you’re ready to rock. "

I've been sitting here for 2 hours and all I have to show for it is a horrible sounding guitar recording that I can't export into any other software. WAY TO GO FAST TRACK USB!

I sincerely hope I'm doing something wrong that someone can point out... but to call this "easy" or make it sound like "plug and play" is a ****ing joke. I expected a simple record button that I would hit, play my guitar, get it recorded, hit stop when I'm done. Save it as a .wave or whatever, then go on to add separate vocals, drums, bass, whatever in a "studio" or "project" environment. NOWHERE is there an easy-to-use option to just record my goddamn guitar. With included software "live 6" i had to read 30 pages of tutorial to get it to record the guitar and it sounds absolutely terrible, I can't listen to it through mys peakers without a 2 second delay and it usually doesn't play it at all unless i strum loudly enough that the point is moot.

I am extremely frustrated right now and would love for someone to give me an easy as hell step-by-step guide to making this piece of **** work.

Currently all I can say is I figured out how to record songs through my headset with the amp cranked in about 1 minute... open software, click big red record button, go to town.... why this has to be 10000000x more ****ing complicated i dont get!!!!

Please help ><


PS - I currently have: audacity, reaper, wavepad, live 6.0, and "gt express" installed for sound editing software and the only one i can get the guitar to record on is live 6. All of these give you 5056769034056 options but no simple ****ing "hey man, record ur guitar through usb by clicking here" option.
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
M-Audio Fasttrack
Last edited by Aitrus at Aug 28, 2008,
#2
Whoa! Go grab a coffee and chill for a few minutes.

A couple of things:
1. Your sound is going into the M-Audio. You are hearing it delayed because of a thing called latency. Make sure you are using the M-Audio driver, and that you have your latency setting (aka more properly 'buffer setting') set fairly low. Not TOO low, or you'll get crackling.

2. The sound is going into your computer... as you said, just not very loud. So, you've probably selected the right input.

Have you turned up the gain on the M-Audio? To what?

There is a button on the back for guitar/line. Have you tried that?

What do you see in the control panel applet? Does it show a good strong signal?

How do you have it hooked up?

guitar > amp > mic > M-audio?
guitar > modeler > M-Audio

Does your software have an input meter? What is it registering?

Are you using the M-audio driver and not some other sound card driver?

These will help us get a clearer picture of what might be going wrong.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#3
So... some progress.

I'm able to record different guitar tracks and separate vocals and mix them together using the "live 6 lite" software that came with the device. The guitar tracks are still extremely low, and when I turn them up in the mixer they start to sound awful if I go too high.

The other thing is the guitar sounds extremely bland and boring compared to how it sounds throught he amp or even how an acoustic guitar would sound.

And I still can't export the file once I have something done very easily. To get an mp3 out of it I had to save it as a wav, then open it in wavepad and convert to mp3...

Now, I'm using live 6 lite mainly because its the only place I've got the guitar working, and it actually has pretty decent help features to explain what things do. However I understand most people use audacity or reaper... I can't get my guitar to record in either of these.

So my questions at this point would be:

1. How can I get my guitar to record in audacity (or reaper if its easier)?

2. How can I get the volume to be higher by default ("output" and "mix" knobs on the USB unit are maxed - only other knob on it is "mic input")?

3. How can I improve the tone/quality of how the guitar sounds?

I will upload a sample to my profile, please dont worry about how bad the vocals/extra guitar part are, at this point I'm just screwing around trying to see how to get multiple tracks together and try to fix the guitars, not worried about good singing or nice sounding arrangements ><

Edit - my current setup just goes guitar - cable - USB unit - USB Cable - Computer. I could put my amp (or pedal) somewhere in there if that would help.
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
M-Audio Fasttrack
Last edited by Aitrus at Aug 29, 2008,
#4
Quote by Aitrus

1. How can I get my guitar to record in audacity (or reaper if its easier)?


Create a new audio track and select the right input. What is exactly the problem?

2. How can I get the volume to be higher by default ("output" and "mix" knobs on the USB unit are maxed - only other knob on it is "mic input")?


According to the website, that audio interface has no preamp so you'll have to raise the volume level in the DAW.

3. How can I improve the tone/quality of how the guitar sounds?


You need something to model a real guitar amplifier, since you're not using one. Easiest way to achieve this is getting a software such as Guitar Rig to model the amp and a DI-box between your guitar and computer to balance the impedance.
#5
Quote by Stratwizard
Create a new audio track and select the right input. What is exactly the problem?


Let's just assume for a second that this isn't as intuitive/obvious as you think. What menu/option do I need to click to set audacity up to be recording the guitar input? (for example in live 6 lite there is a tutorial, and i figured out that on an input drop down menu i had to switch it from my sound card to the USB device. I see no such drop down menu on tracks in audacity atm)

The rest of what you wrote was helpful, I'll try rigging through my amp and if that doesn't work too hot I'll try some amp software.
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
M-Audio Fasttrack
#6
This is what I see in audacity:




Well with some fiddling I've got it recording guitar now so nevermind all that :p

Adding amp has made it possible to get it louder, the sound quality of the guitar still leaves something to be desired but that may just be me needing to fiddle with amp settings or something. Will mess with it some more.

Thanks for the help tho! I was pulling my hair out last night.
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
M-Audio Fasttrack
Last edited by Aitrus at Aug 29, 2008,
#7
It's all about reading instructions man. I wouldn't expect to purchase anything that's as plug and play described above. Think of recording equipment as another instrument. The more you learn it the better it will sound. This includes learning both the hardware side and the software side.

I do however sympathize with you on the Ableton Live software. My M-Audio Fast Track Pro came with that. I immediately hated it! So much so, I went out and purchased Cakewalk Music Creator for $40 (from their website, instant download) and I haven't looked back since then.
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#8
Quote by Aitrus
Let's just assume for a second that this isn't as intuitive/obvious as you think.


Sorry, if that sounded offensive. That wasn't my intention. Good thing that you got it working now. How did you connect your amplifier by the way?
#9
Oh I read their instruction booklet cover to cover, all it says is how to install, nothing about how to actually use the damn thing to make recordings. It comes with 3 or 4 cds of software, and it isn't immediately evident what does what. I still have no clue what this "gt player express" software is for, you open it up and it looks like 3 music players stacked on top of each other. Lacks any kind of help/table of contents to explain what it is and how to use it :S

When you're selling a piece of equipment who's only purpose is to allow you to record guitar on your computer, one would think they would make it as easy as possible and as self evident as possible how to do just that! Plug in the guitar/usb, open software, hit record, strum - guitar recorded - would be what one would expect. Not hidden settings 3 menus down that have to be activated for the recording to be possible :S

btw is there a reason you didn't just use audacity? I understand people can use whichever they like, but I'd like to at least start with the "standard" software, hopefully also the one that's the easiest to figure out.
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
M-Audio Fasttrack
#10
Quote by Stratwizard
Sorry, if that sounded offensive. That wasn't my intention. Good thing that you got it working now. How did you connect your amplifier by the way?


No worries.

THe way Ive got it right now is like this:

Guitar > Amp > USB Device > Computer

I have a Roland Microcube RX amp (if it matters). As mentioned the quality of the guitar recording leaves a bit to be desired... not sure how to describe it other than as really flat and bland, no pop at all. Guessing I may need to fiddle with amp effects to get what I want. I know finding the right gain level is important.. I can't just max it out or the sound is garbled, but if its too low the sound comes out really low/soft.

Would i be better off getting a virtual amp program instead of wiring it through my practice amp?
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
M-Audio Fasttrack
#11
Are you using your amp's link to connect it to the USB? The sound is bad probably because you don't have a DI-box and you're not using any cabinet modeling. After all, you're using now just the preamp part of your Microcube. In your case, I'd probably just use Guitar Rig or some other amp modeling software because, quite frankly, the amp isn't too high quality.
#12
Thanks - I see guitar rig is like $330 which is way more than I would want to spend on amp software.. is there a demo that you can just keep using that is decent enough? Or is there some other free (or at least cheap) software people recommend?

The way I have it right now I am connecting my amp's "line out" to the M-Audio Fast Track USB unit with a regular guitar cable. Agree amp isn't stellar for recording purposes, its a good, small, high end practice amp tho that is great for messing around on and practicing tho which until recently was all I was doing anyways
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
M-Audio Fasttrack
#13
Quote by Aitrus
Oh I read their instruction booklet cover to cover, all it says is how to install, nothing about how to actually use the damn thing to make recordings. It comes with 3 or 4 cds of software, and it isn't immediately evident what does what. I still have no clue what this "gt player express" software is for, you open it up and it looks like 3 music players stacked on top of each other. Lacks any kind of help/table of contents to explain what it is and how to use it :S

GT Player Express is a amp simulator. It's pretty clunky. I never found a manual for it, but once you figure it out you can actually get some decent sounds out of it. You can run it as a stand alone program for jamming, or as a VST. It's like a cheap Amplitube or something.

Quote by Aitrus
When you're selling a piece of equipment who's only purpose is to allow you to record guitar on your computer, one would think they would make it as easy as possible and as self evident as possible how to do just that! Plug in the guitar/usb, open software, hit record, strum - guitar recorded - would be what one would expect. Not hidden settings 3 menus down that have to be activated for the recording to be possible :S

Most of the time you'll have a "how to" somewhere on the CD or it may be available via the help menu. You also may have to hit the web to find a tutorial. Nobody does paper manuals anymore. Cakewalk Music Creator came with a set of video tutorials that were excellent.


Quote by Aitrus
btw is there a reason you didn't just use audacity? I understand people can use whichever they like, but I'd like to at least start with the "standard" software, hopefully also the one that's the easiest to figure out.

I've never really liked Audacity. I wanted something with more features.


Also, the best amp/cabinet sim I've had the opportunity to use is Waves GTR. It's about $105 on Musicians Friend.
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#14
Quote by Death-Speak

Nobody does paper manuals anymore.


Tell that to Apple lol. I bought Logic Studio recently and it came with 4 or 5 manuals, of which just the Logic Pro's manual is about 1000 pages. I've never even opened the damn books.
#15
Roland TD drum modules also have large manuals...
The TD6V I got came with a 150 pager...

TS, nothing is plug and play....you have to work to get that great sound.
Some tips:
- Use a program you are comfortable working with. Then STICK with it to learn to get the best sounds out of it.

- You have to install the latest drivers for your hardware. Its a quick process and they are normally hosted on the sites for each piece of hardware. M-Audio has great drivers.

- In your program, select the new hardware for recording and playback. Skipping this step means you wont have any audio recorded...

- Try to mic actual amps and such instead of using software modeling, it will sound better and normally works out better.