Go Guitar - Playing and recording guitar on a Windows computer

Question

How can I use a Go Guitar with my Windows computer?


Answer

There are a few steps involved - connecting it to your computer, choosing an audio program, choosing a driver, and optional guitar amplifier and speaker simulation - but this is totally possible and can act as a great way to get your guitar into your computer for practice and recording.

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The Connection:

Go Guitar uses a 3.5mm male TRRS jack to connect to its host device (computer, phone, tablet, etc).  This TRRS connection allows two-way audio, so your guitar signal can be passed on to the host device, and the effected audio can be passed back to Go Guitar's headphone and amp outputs.
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The physical connection between Go Guitar and your computer will depend on your computer's sound card.  There are a couple possibilities:  Your computer might have a combination jack (a headset input) for both microphone input and headphone output, or your computer might have two separate jacks for microphone input and headphone output.

A combination microphone and headphone jack, or rather a headset jack, will be a 3.5mm female input usually with a picture of a headset next to it.
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This is a TRRS input, just like on most smartphones, and you can plug Go Guitar directly into this jack.  Easy!  Done!

If the image next to the jack is just headphones (🎧) and not a headset with the little microphone arm, then this is likely just a stereo headphone output and you'll still need to find a microphone input.

Many Windows computers will have separate jacks for microphone input and headphone output.  Typically these jacks will have icons next to them, or they'll be colored-coded, or both.
A pink 3.5mm female jack with a picture of a microphone will be your microphone input.
green 3.5mm female jack with a picture of headphones will be your headphone output.
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To connect Go Guitar to both these computer jacks, you will need an adapter to split Go Guitar's TRRS connection into two TRS connections.  This adapter is typically called a headset splitter cable, and looks like this:

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You can plug Go Guitar's TRRS male connection into the female end of this adapter, then the two microphone and headphone connections into their respective jacks on your computer.


Once Go Guitar is connected to your computer, ensure the audio jack(s) you just plugged it into are enabled for use by Windows.  Please see this article for guidance on confirming that your audio input and output jacks are enabled.
 

Audio Software:

You can really use whichever audio recording program you'd like, Go Guitar is simply a hardware interface.  A typical use-case would be using Go Guitar with a DAW (digital audio workstation) where you can apply plug-in effects to your guitar signal and create recordings.  Audacity is a great (and free) beginner's DAW, and Reaper is a slightly-fancier DAW which offers a free, fully-functional 60-day evaluation.

Remember that the input gain on your guitar signal is controlled by the "Gain" knob on the side of Go Guitar, and the output level of Go Guitar's headphone output is controlled by your audio software.

Once you've chosen, installed, and launched your DAW, you will need to select an audio driver so that the audio software can communicate with your hardware input and outputs.
 

Audio Driver:

There's no hard-set rule as to which audio driver you should use, this might take some experimentation.  The goal here is to use whichever audio driver gives you the lowest latency, meaning the driver with the least amount of delay between you playing a note on your guitar and hearing it played back out Go Guitar's headphone and amp outputs.
Typical Windows audio drivers include "WASAPI", "DirectSound", and "WaveOut", among others.  Experiment with trying different drivers and see if they offer acceptable latency for your playing.  Another third-party driver we've had great luck with is Asio4All, which you can download for free here.

Go Guitar is an analog connection, so your recording can use whichever sample rate (eg. 48kHz) and bit-depth (eg. 24-bit) your computer supports.  Lowering these settings may improve your latency.

On whichever track your Go Guitar is recording into, be sure to enable monitoring so that you can hear what you're playing through Go Guitar's headphone output.  Once you've got audio flowing, you may want to add amplifier and speaker simulation to your guitar signal so you're not just listening to dry guitar.
 

Amplifier Simulators:

In the context of a DAW, you can simulate a guitar amplifier and speaker cabinet with add-on effect components called plug-ins.  These used to be very you-get-what-you-pay-for, but nowadays there are many great free options for amp sim plug-ins.  You certainly can still pay for these to get great-sounding sims (Guitar Rig, Amplitube, AmpLion, etc) but the selection of free options continues to improve every year (Ignite Amps' Emissary amp sim and NadIR speaker sim are free and sound great together).  If you search online for "Free amp sims" you'll find lots of options to play with.


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