How to Connect Guitar to GarageBand

You can connect a guitar to GarageBand on Mac or iOS by using an external interface or another piece of equipment that allows the cable to go from your guitar’s output into your computer or iPhone. 

My name is Donovan, and I’ve been writing and recording music since I was a kid. I’ve also been playing guitar for nearly 20 years and have a lot of experience connecting various guitars to GarageBand. 

This post will show you how to connect a guitar to GarageBand. I’ll walk you through the steps involved with connecting a guitar on your Mac or iPhone and also provide you with some important information to keep in mind. 

Let’s get our guitars tuned up and get started. 

Key Takeaways

  • You need an audio interface of some kind to connect your guitar to GarageBand. This doesn’t come included with the free app and is a physical piece of equipment. 
  • When you have the right equipment, connecting your guitar to GarageBand is easy, and you can use many different built-in amps and effects. 
  • You can only connect guitars that have an output or pickup. If they don’t have these, you’ll need to use a microphone.

Initial Thoughts

To connect a guitar to GarageBand, you will need an external piece of equipment called an audio interface. There are many different kinds of interfaces available, and they let you connect a guitar to your computer or phone. 

You can get a small, single-input interface designed specifically for guitars (like this one). These are usually pretty affordable and can cost $100 to $150. I have one of these, which makes connecting a guitar to record or practice really easy. 

You can also use a larger interface that has more channels and inputs. These are the same devices that allow you to use microphones and other instruments, so they are nice to have if you plan on doing any serious recording projects. 

The larger the interface, the more you’ll pay for it. So you might want to do some research and find an interface that meets your specific budget and recording needs. I like all of the products from Apogee because they work well with Apple devices. 

And in order for your guitar to connect to an interface and then to your Mac or iPhone if it has an output or pickup. All electric guitars will have at least one pickup, but not all acoustic guitars have these.  

How to Connect Guitar to GarageBand Mac

Connecting a guitar to GarageBand on your Mac is simple, and you can start laying down tracks or utilizing the many built-in amplifiers for fun or practice. 

Here are the steps to connect a guitar to GarageBand on your Mac: 

1. Connect your audio interface to your Mac through whatever connection is required based on your Mac model.

If you have a new Mac equipped with Thunderbolt ports, you might need to get an output expander to get USB inputs or other types to allow you to connect to your interface.

2. Connect your guitar to the audio interface. This will involve plugging the quarter-inch cable from your guitar’s output into the same sized input in your audio interface, just like plugging it into an amp.

3. Open the GarageBand app on your Mac.

4. Select Empty Project or open up an existing project to which you want to add guitar tracks. 

5. Add a new track to the project by clicking on the + button or clicking on the track you want the guitar on. 

6. Click the Smart Controls button on the top of the window to open up controls that will allow you to select the input for your guitar. 

7. Select your audio interface from the input list, and your guitar will be connected to GarageBand. 

(Screenshot taken from GarageBand on my Mac)

You can also check out this YouTube video if you prefer to watch a video tutorial:

How to Connect Guitar to GarageBand iPhone

Connecting a guitar to GarageBand on your iPhone is also pretty simple, but you’ll need an audio interface for this as well. Smaller interfaces designed just for this purpose make connecting a guitar to your phone really easy. 

Follow these steps to connect your guitar to GarageBand on your iPhone. 

1. Connect your audio interface to your iPhone. The interface should have the correct cable to connect directly to your phone, but you might need an adapter if it doesn’t. 

2. Plug a quarter-inch guitar cable into your guitar and then plug the other end into the interface. 

3. Open GarageBand on your iPhone. 

4. Start a new project in GarageBand and select the Amp option for the available software instrument options. 

(Screenshot taken from GarageBand on my iPhone)

5. You should see a message that says “Audio Device Connected” at this point. This prompt will advise you to turn on monitoring to hear your guitar. Tap Turn on monitoring. 

6. Your guitar is now connected to your iPhone, and you can play or record guitar tracks. You can also explore the different guitar amps that are available on GarageBand iOS to get different sounds. 

Quick Note: The process for connecting a guitar to GarageBand on an iPhone is the same for an iPad. Follow the steps here to connect a guitar to GarageBand on an iPad as well. 


Here are a few short answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to connecting a guitar to GarageBand. 

How do I connect my acoustic guitar to GarageBand?

Connecting your acoustic guitar to GarageBand is essentially the same process as connecting an electric guitar. But keep in mind that you’ll need to have a pickup on your acoustic guitar to make this happen. If you don’t, you can use a microphone to record your guitar.  

Why isn’t GarageBand picking up my guitar?

There are a few reasons why GarageBand might not be picking up your guitar. Make sure the volume or gain on your pickup is turned up enough to put out a signal. If you are still having troubles, simply restart the app, as this fixes many glitches.    

How do I use GarageBand as a guitar amp?

You can use the guitar amps built into GarageBand and essentially get the same effect as having an amp without actually having one. To do this, connect your guitar to the app and then choose whatever amp sound you want to use. 

Final Thoughts

Once you have your guitar and audio interface, you can quickly connect the instrument to GarageBand on your Mac or iOS device. Remember to turn on monitoring to hear the guitar play through the speakers or headphones you have connected. 

Remember that you can’t connect an acoustic guitar through the process described here unless it has a pickup. If you don’t have one, you can still record your guitar in GarageBand. You’ll just need to use a microphone instead of an audio interface. 

Do you have a favorite amp in GarageBand, and what do you like about it? Do you think the built-in amps in the app sound good, or do you prefer the real thing? Let me know in the comments below!

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