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I have bought this cheap (10$) guitar pickup for an acoustic guitar, which I have connected it to my laptop's 3.5mm microphone port:

Image of the pickup

This is for a 14 years old kid.

What program can he use to remove the noise of the microphone (this microphone produces A LOT of noise) and add cool effects to the sound (like transform it in another instrument or an electric guitar - in real time). It should be easy to use, allow recording the sound and transforming it and not too CPU-heavy. The laptop is a Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz, with a weak graphic card.

The price of the program is not important. It can be expensive.

Thanks.

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What kind of noise are you getting from the mic? –  BenV Feb 16 '11 at 12:39
    
Static maybe. It is constant, even when the guitar is not playing, and it is fairly loud. Maybe a filter could do the trick. –  user518 Feb 16 '11 at 12:46
    
In this case, I would get cheap software (Arduino) and spend more money on the mic, rather than the other way around. –  Brad Feb 16 '11 at 14:18
    
True, that's a better option, but I can't (due to time) buy another mic. Which software should I choose? –  user518 Feb 16 '11 at 14:52

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

As a computer programmer, one of the first rules you learn is "Garbage In, Garbage Out". Once the correctness of the data - or in this case the quality of the sound - is gone, there's very little that can be done to bring it back into a usable state. Keep this in mind when deciding how best to spend your money which can easily disappear on a whole myriad of different items from instruments, mics, cables, pedals, outboards, rigs to DAW software.

For the moment I would prioritise your setup like this:

  1. Pickup
  2. Soundcard
  3. Effects (dry or wet)
  4. Noise removal

Firstly, get an acoustic pickup that has low (acceptable) noise. You can test this out by listening through a good set of headphones before putting it through a computer. If the signal you're getting at the very source isn't good enough don't try to fix it once you get it into a digital recorded state.

Second, if you're going to be recording music on a PC it will be worth considering getting a soundcard for that purpose. If you're using a laptop you could get an external soundcard e.g. DMX 6Fire. There's nothing worse than not being able to get a good recording because your soundcard isn't low latency or powerful enough to keep up.

The only time I ever put distortion effects on an acoustic guitar sound it didn't come out too well but in principle there shouldn't be a problem. You could either buy a purpose built guitar FX pedal e.g. Digitech Grunge, Boss Metal Zone or use software on the clean acoustic signal later e.g. the Fruity Blood Overdrive plugin for FL Studio. I'd say the pedal route should be if the 14 yr-old will some day gig or otherwise want to tailor their rock distortion or whatever and let it be portable.

A good DAW system will come with noise removal software but (a) you're looking at spending a lot of money for just recording an acoustic guitar and (b) it can still have unwanted side-effects compared to the original. I found when I needed to use noise reduction because of a badly recorded source signal the result had a very muddy sound. That's why I'd recommend considering the noise removal element last and instead try to get a system working that doesn't need it. Regardless though, if you choose to use software effects to change the sound away from an acoustic guitar you'll need a DAW that can handle a plugin to do so. I mentioned FL Studio but there are others (including free ones) mentioned in the wikipedia link above.

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I'm probably just going with the DAW system. If money isn't a problem (but the computer is) which should I choose? But have in mind, that it must be simple to use and have a friendly interface. Do you think FL Studio is a good option? –  user518 Feb 16 '11 at 15:24
    
Unlike some others on this site I'm not a recording professional and don't have the broadest expertise with different DAW software. I'm a skilled FL Studio user now but I remember how hard I found it to begin with, also I don't think it's the tool I'd use for real time effects instruments. I mentioned it as a good example of having a nice plugin for post recording guitar effects. The easy-to-use question is a good one and probably worthy of its own thread. Apologies for being inconclusive, I get the feeling time is of the essence on this question. –  jeebs Feb 16 '11 at 15:39
    
It is. And your question helped me. I may go with Ableton. +1, although not being able to vote up :) –  user518 Feb 16 '11 at 15:55
    
Don't worry about it, glad I could be of some help at least. –  jeebs Feb 16 '11 at 15:59

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