How to Record Guitar on Ableton Live

You can record a guitar on Ableton Live just like any other audio clip. You should use a good audio interface and microphone to get the best-sounding recordings and take advantage of plugins and effects as well.

I’m Donovan, and I have been playing and recording guitars for decades. I’ve also used Ableton Live extensively for the last few months and know through direct experience how to best record guitars into this DAW.

This post will show you how to record guitar in Ableton Live. I’ll direct you to some resources on recording an audio clip and then provide some top tips to help you get the best-sounding guitar tracks for your audio projects. 

Let’s dig in. 

How to Record an Audio Clip in Ableton Live

Recording a guitar on Ableton Live is the same as recording any other audio clip into the DAW. You can check out my full post of recording audio clips in Ableton Live here. Do that first if you have no recording experience with this DAW. 

Once you have the basics of recording an audio clip down, you can start exploring how to make your guitar tracks stand out – which I’ll cover in the rest of this post. You need to know how to record an audio clip in general before going into the specifics of recording guitars. 

Top Tips for Recording Guitar in Ableton Live

I’ve used the tools and tips in this section every time I record guitar in Ableton Live. It’s important to keep all of these in mind to help you get the great take to help build exciting creative projects.

1. Choose Direct or Use Microphone

Depending on the type of guitar you are recording, you will want to mic it up to record or plug it in directly to your audio interface. I usually mic acoustic guitars and use a dynamic microphone on guitar amps for electric guitars. 

But you can also plug in an acoustic guitar with a pickup or an electric guitar directly to your audio interface. Either way, you need to set up your recording session in Ableton and choose the correct input for recording. 

Follow the steps in my How to Record an Audio Clip in Ableton Live for more information on how to do this

Choose your audio interface from the Audio From drop-down. Be sure you select the proper input for your mic or guitar in the drop-down below that.  

2. Explore Amp Simulators

If you are a guitar player, you probably have your favorite amps and equipment to record with. But if you’re a beginner or just want to explore some other options, be sure to take advantage of the Amp Simulators in Ableton Live. 

These offer realistic-sounding amp effects and essentially function as plugins or effects. You just need to drag the amp simulator you want onto your guitar track. You can access these in the Core Library under the Amp Simulation folder. 

Once you have the amp loaded onto your track, you can adjust the knobs, just like you would on a regular guitar amp. 

One of Ableton’s guitar amp simulator control panels

3. Double-Check Your Tuning

This is basic advice, but even professional players need to hear it sometimes. Always double-check your guitar tuning before you press record. You can’t dress up an out-of-tune guitar, no matter how good of a producer you are. 

Ableton has a built-in tuner you can put onto your guitar track, just like you would any other plugin. This is a great and easy way to keep your guitar in tune while recording within the DAW. But a clip-on tuner works just fine, too. 

4. Explore Plugins, EQ, and Other Effects

Ableton Live has a lot of other plugins and effects you can use to enhance the sound of your guitar track or just dial in something unique that you really like. You should explore these during your mixing and editing process. 

I always like to throw a little reverb on just about every guitar I record. This is especially true if you are recording in a small room. EQ is another recommended plugin that can help you fix buzzes or hums you don’t want in the mix. 

There is a lot of creative liberty to explore with effects in mind. And you can always explore these on the amp side of the process. But remember that Ableton has a lot of in-the-box tools and features to use. 

The Heavy Tube effect is one of my favorites to throw on a guitar track

Final Thoughts

Recording a guitar in Ableton Live is pretty straightforward, but recording a great guitar track involves a lot of skill and nuance. Keep all of the tips and tricks in this post in mind when you are recording to get things dialed in quickly. 

What kind of guitar and amp do you use the most when recording? Let me know in the comments below.

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