How to Record Guitar Using Your iPhone/iPad

Make Pro Recordings for as Little as $75

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Cross, Dan. "How to Record Guitar Using Your iPhone/iPad." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/record-guitar-with-iphone-ipad-1712783. Cross, Dan. (2017, March 3). How to Record Guitar Using Your iPhone/iPad. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/record-guitar-with-iphone-ipad-1712783 Cross, Dan. "How to Record Guitar Using Your iPhone/iPad." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/record-guitar-with-iphone-ipad-1712783 (accessed October 24, 2017).

Do you own an iPhone or iPad? Do you also play guitar? Did you know that for as little as $75, you can use your iPhone or iPad to make professional-quality recordings of your guitar playing, complete with effects, keyboard and drum tracks? The following feature outlines the tools you'll need to make recording your guitar playing on your Apple device a snap.

iPhone/iPad Recording Gear Cheat Sheet

Here is a quick overview of the tools you need to begin recording on your iPhone. More information on each product is available below.

  • iPhone 4/4s:

    • Electric instruments only - Apogee Jam Guitar Interface, Garage Band (app)
    • Electric/Acoustic/Vocals - Apogee Jam Guitar Interface, Blue Mikey, Garage Band (app)
  • iPhone 5 (and newer models):

    • Electric instruments only - Apogee Jam Guitar Interface, Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter, Garage Band (app)
    • Electric/Acoustic/Vocals - Apogee Jam Guitar Interface, Blue Mikey, Garage Band (app)
  • iPad (1st generation, iPad2, 3rd generation)

    • Electric instruments only - Apple Camera Connection Kit, Behringer Guitar Link UCG102 USB Interface, Garage Band (app)
    • Electric/Acoustic/Vocals - Apple Camera Connection Kit, Behringer Guitar Link UCG102 USB Interface, Blue USB Microphone, Garage Band (app)
  • iPad (4th generation, iPad Mini, and even newer models)

    • Electric instruments only - Apple Camera Connection Kit, Behringer Guitar Link UCG102 USB Interface, Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter, Garage Band (app)
    • Electric/Acoustic/Vocals - Apple Camera Connection Kit, Behringer Guitar Link UCG102 USB Interface, Blue USB Microphone, Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter, Garage Band (app)

Hardware/Software for Recording Guitar on your iPhone/iPad:

apple lightning to usb adapter

Plugging this simple little Apple connector into your iPad or iPhone provides you with a USB input, into which you can plug a myriad of different devices. Some of these (microphones with USB out, guitar inputs) are listed here, but there are hundreds of others available. My daughter's electric keyboard, for example, can interface with my iPad using this connection kit. More »

Behringer Guitar Link UCG102 USB Interface (iPad users)

Behringer UCG102

Requires the Apple Lightning to USB Adapter. A simple little device that converts your analog electric guitar signal to USB, which can then be plugged into your iPad. Just run your standard 1/4" guitar cable directly from your instrument into the UCG102, and you can plug that into your iPad (via the Camera Connection Kit). The device features a high/low gain switch and a clip warning light.

Blue USB Microphone

Blue Microphone

Requires the Apple Camera Connection Kit. I love this odd-looking and relatively inexpensive little microphone for quickly and easily recording acoustic instruments. You simply plug a USB cable from the microphone into your device and you are ready to record. I've used the Blue for recording acoustic guitar, full bands, spoken audio, and some lead vocals, and have been impressed with the capture quality. A three-stop setting on the microphone allows you to control gain.

Apogee Jam Guitar Interface (iPhone/iPad users)

apogee jam

The first generations of devices designed to allow you to record electric guitars through your iPhone shared a common flaw - they used the analog audio-in via the phone's headphone jack. This resulted in low-quality recordings plagued by "crosstalk" and other technical issues. The tiny Apogee Jam, although slightly more expensive than some of these cheaper options, uses the iPhone/iPad's dock connector for a much higher quality data transfer. In simple terms, this allows for a much higher quality recording. With the Apogee Jam, you can plug your electric instrument in to one end of the unit via a standard connect 1/4" cable, and into the other end plug your iPhone/iPad using the provided adapters. And, as simple as that, you're rigged to record on your phone or tablet.

Blue Mikey (iPhone)

blue mikey

Full disclosure - I haven't tried the Blue Mikey. But the microphone does look promising - it interacts with the iPhone's digital port, rather than the inferior analog audio-in accessible through the iPhone's headphone jack (which is what allows Apple to include a microphone in their headphones). Using this microphone, you'll be able to record any analog sound on your iPhone - acoustic guitars or other instruments, vocals, etc.

Once only available for desktops, Apple's GarageBand is now available for the iPhone and iPad. The functionality they've packed into this low-priced app is truly impressive - for $5 you get multi-track recording, effects pedals, "smart" drum and keyboard tracks, and much more. More »
Although not an essential purchase for those just getting their feet wet in recording on their iDevice, Audiobus is a handy tool that allows different audio apps to interact with each other... for example allowing you to record the guitar sound you've dialed in via the AmpliTube app using the GarageBand app. More »
Here is a straightforward, free app that allows guitarists to tune their instruments via their iPhone. Pretty handy stuff. More »