How Do I Connect My Bass Guitar To My Computer?

So, you want to know, “How Do I Connect My Bass Guitar To My Computer?” There are several different ways you can connect your bass guitar to your computer. Let’s take a look at some of the different ways and the best way to get your bass connected to your computer.

How Do I Connect My Bass Guitar To My Computer?

The best way to connect your bass guitar to your computer for recording and collaborating with other online players is with an audio interface. An audio interface has dedicated drivers and will reduce or eliminate latency depending on your computer. You can get a small audio interface to get started with and build up in size as your needs require. An audio interface will give you a good clean signal and plenty of volume control. The audio interface will also give you a good connection point for your studio monitors and headphone outputs.

What Are The Different Ways To Connect My Bass Guitar To My computer?

There are several different ways to connect your bass guitar to your computer.

You also need to think about any inline pedals or effects you may be using.

1. Connect The 1/4″ Output From Your Bass To The 1/8″ Input On Your Computers Sound Card.

Your bass guitar has a 1/4″ cable that comes from the bass that you can put an 1/8″ adapter on and plug directly into the back of your computers sound card.

The problem with this method is you are probably going to have very low volume, lots of noise, and tons of latency.

Your computers sound card is going to have to do the analog to digital conversion and then the digital to analog conversions and this will slow your computer down causing latency.

Latency is a delay in the sound you hear from when you play the note on your bass guitar and when you hear the note played back.

In addition to these challenges, this is probably not the safest method for your computer.

To help overcome the low volume levels you would do best to run your bass guitar through a DI box to help boost and balance the signal coming from your bass guitar.

A DI box will cost you about the same as a small audio interface.

2. Connect The 1/4″ Output From Your Bass To A USB Connection On Your Computer.

This method will connect your bass guitar to your computer, but you will experience all the same problems that I mentioned from the first method we talked about.

Not the best method but you can do it with a 1/4″ to USB cable.

3. Connect Your Bass Guitar To An Audio Interface and The Audio Interface To Your Computer Via USB.

How To Connect Your Bass Guitar and Audio Interface To Your Computer

A small audio interface is the best way to connect your bass guitar and perhaps a vocal microphone to your computer.

Simply plug your bass guitar into the audio interface and set the gain (volume) level.

The audio interface will connect to your computer via a USB connection.

Your audio interface has its own built in sound card with preamps to boost the signal and onboard AD (Analog to Digital) and DA (Digital to Analog) converters.

Because the audio interface is doing the AD / DA conversions this takes the load off of your computers processor and reduces or completely eliminates latency.

If you are using a newer semi powerful computer and a newer audio interface with its own dedicated driver’s latency should not be an issue.

Another huge advantage is that you can also plug in a vocal microphone, keyboard, guitar, MIDI device like a drum machine, or any other instrument that you like.

Video Credit: Reverb

What Is The Best Way To Connect My Bass Guitar To My Computer?

The best way to connect your bass guitar to your computer is going to be with an audio interface.

Here are the reasons why.

1. Provides You With A Good Signal Level (Gain Control)

2. Clean Signal For Recording

3. AD / DA Conversions Are Done For Your Computer

4. Dedicated Drivers

5. Reduces Latency

6. Simple To Plug In Your Bass Guitar

7. Can Connect Vocal Microphone

8. Can Connect Other Instruments

9. Can Connect MIDI Device

10. Easy To Connect Studio Monitors

11. Has A Headphone Connection

12. Simple And Clean Setup

Relevant Article: The Best Audio Interface For A Home Studio. Learn More About Audio Interfaces.

How Do I Record My Bass Guitar With My Computer?

Studio One DAW Mix View

Now that you know the best way to connect your bass guitar to your computer you may be wondering how to record your bass guitar inside your computer.

You need DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software.

DAW software is like having a recording studio inside of your computer.

You will have a mixing console, digital recording, the ability to do non-destructive editing, MIDI recording and editing capabilities, effects, EQ, compression, and many other tools to help you produce your own music.

The cool thing is most times when you buy an audio interface it will come with an introductory level of some DAW software for free.

You can try the included DAW software and if you like it, you can always upgrade to the full version.

So, you will need a DAW software package to record, edit, and mix your projects inside of your computer.

Some DAW Software Packages are: ProTools, Studio One, Cubase, FL Studio, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and several others.

Relevant Article: Check Out My Review On Studio One! It’s a great DAW software package.

Can I Use My Computer As An Amplifier?

You can use your computer as a playback device, but a computer is not an amplifier.

If you want to connect your bass guitar or any instrument or microphone to your computer with an audio interface this makes it super simple to listen to your mixes, instruments, and microphones through your studio monitors or headphones.

This is one great advantage of having an audio interface. It makes it very easy to connect speakers and headphones to the audio interface outputs.

You can easily adjust the play back volume on your speakers and headphones.

This is also a great way to be able to do late night practice sessions or work on a mix with your headphones on. This way you are not disturbing others.

So yes, you can play your bass with an audio interface and your computer.

You won’t need a bass amp unless you need one to do live gigs with or you just prefer using a bass amp.

By the way, some bass amps have a line out that you can run directly into your audio interface, or you can mic your bass amp if you prefer.

What Are Studio Monitor Speakers?

Yamaha HS8 Active Studio Monitors

Studio Monitors are special designed speakers created to be able to hear your mix better.

They are designed to have a flat frequency response with no bass boost and no mid-range scoop or high range frequency boost.

Regular media speakers are designed to boost the bass, scoop the mids, and boost the high-end frequencies to make the music sound more pleasant.

When you are trying to create your own mixes, you need to be able to hear what your mix truly sounds like so you can adjust accordingly.

You will need a good set of studio monitors if you want to create mixes that will sound good on regular media speakers like home stereo speakers, car stereos, and computer speakers.

If you want to learn more about studio monitors, I have a good article you can check out.

Relevant Article: Are Studio Monitors Necessary?

What Others Are Saying

Direct QuoteSource
“The easiest way to connect your electric guitar or bass to your computer is to use one of the small guitar audio interfaces on the market. Just connect the cable from your instrument to the interface and you’re ready to rock.”https://support.soundtrap.com/hc/en-us/articles/205506232-How-to-connect-my-guitar-to-mycomputer#:~:text=The%20easiest%20way%20to%20connect,you’re%20ready%20to%20rock.
“To connect your electric guitar to a computer, you need to use an audio interface that will safely process your guitar’s signal into something your computer can use. If your computer has audio input jacks, you cannot directly plug your electric guitar into it and you must use an audio interface.”https://guitargearfinder.com/guides/how-to-connect-guitar-to-pc/
“Locate your computer’s audio-in port. It is possible to connect your guitar directly to your laptop through the device’s audio-in port. This port is typically located on the side of laptops, near the headphone-out port.”https://www.wikihow.com/Plug-a-Guitar-Into-a-Laptop
“I record my bass parts entirely virtually. I don’t actually have a bass amp.
You need a DAW that can record, a usb audio interface and if your bass is passive, a DI box might help.
But there are virtual amps, cabinets and effects, yes.”
https://www.reddit.com/r/Bass/comments/ae4rvc/bass_to_pc/
“do yourself a big favor and spend $100 – 125 on a proper audio interface …..m audio brand, tascam, presonus ….the list is infinite ….not much more than 100 bucks gets you a stereo interface!”https://www.talkbass.com/threads/connecting-my-bass-to-the-pc.822222/
“Connect an audio interface to your computer’s Thunderbolt or USB port, then connect an electric instrument to the audio interface.”https://support.apple.com/guide/logicpro/connect-an-electric-instrument-lgcpebe8e7cd/mac
“You can connect an electric guitar or another electric instrument to your computer to play and record in an audio track, and use the included amps and pedals to shape your guitar sound. There are several ways to connect an electric instrument to your computer.”https://support.apple.com/guide/garageband/connect-an-electric-guitar-gbnd5093bc02/mac
“An audio interface is the most commonly used method of connecting an electric guitar to a computer. An audio interface is simply a box that you plug into your guitar or other inputs and converts the signal into a digital signal that you can send to your computer via USB.”https://www.mozartproject.org/how-can-i-use-my-bass-guitar-with-my-pc/

Final Thoughts

There are several different ways you can connect your bass guitar to your computer but using an audio interface will ultimately be the best choice for the reasons I listed above.

You can pick up a small audio interface for very little cost and get yourself up and running with a great sound.

I really do not recommend wasting your time and money on trying to connect your bass or any other instrument directly into your computers sound card.

This is going to give you poor results and only create frustration and slow you down.

If you like playing, writing, recording, and producing your own music then you are in the right place.

I have many great articles to help get your own home recording studio setup moving in the right direction.

Take a little time and check out my website. I’m sure you will find a helpful article or two.

Please leave your questions and helpful comments below.

6 thoughts on “How Do I Connect My Bass Guitar To My Computer?”

  1. I had no idea that I could do this.  So, with the audio interface a guitar or keyboard records to the computer.  Is the sound reasonable to use a background for a video?  I have been doing background music with the mic I use for voice over and it doesn’t sound right.  I am going to look into an audio interface device and see if I can record my own simple music for use with Youtube Videos.  Thanks for the information.

    Reply
    • Yes, an audio interface allows you to connect any instrument or microphone to your computer to be recorded inside your DAW software. The sound quality on most audio interfaces is 24bit / 192kHz which is very good.  I have an article that goes more into depth about how to use an audio interface and you may find it helpful.  It’s about using a MIDI keyboard with an audio interface but will apply to bass as well.  Should I Connect My Midi Keyboard To My Audio Interface? Be sure and check it out.

      Reply
  2. Hi Mitchell

    I am a hypnotherapist, your article has helped me immensely. As of late I have been trying to add my own music as a gentle background for my recordings. I have purchased a number of apps. Now I see I have been going down the wrong rabbit hole! 

    I also have a machine that plays healing frequencies. It is electric, I wonder if it will work in place of a guitar using the audio interface. So exciting!

    Thank you

    Shelley 

    Reply
    • Hi Shelley, I’m glad the article was helpful to you. Perhaps the machine you have that plays different frequencies has an aux line out or a 1/4″ jack or XLR output.  This would be how you can connect your machine to an audio interface and straight into your computer to record on your DAW software.  Be sure and check your owner’s manual.

      That sounds like a great way to make your own recordings.  Let me know what you find out.

      Reply
  3. I really like to play the guitar. But I’m not very good. My friend plays the guitar well. I learn from him. But the question I had for a long time was how to connect the guitar to my computer. You have taught many ways in this post. I will try them today. Many thanks for such a valuable post. Keep posting like this.

    Reply
    • There are several ways to connect your instruments to your computer.  Keep up the practice with your guitar and thanks for stopping by. 

      Reply

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