Discover the guitar with this USB-linked peripheral
Many laptops and some desktop PCs come without an audio input socket, which means there is no easy way to directly connect an electric guitar.
USB guitars get around this problem by including a USB port in addition to the usual audio socket that connects it to an amplifier. The Discover Guitar kit is not a USB guitar in this sense. Instead, it is a standard electric guitar that comes with a lead that doubles as a USB converter, but the effect is the same. By connecting it to a PC you can play the guitar through the computer’s sound system, or use it with the wealth of software available for musicians.
The kit comes with the Guitar Rig 4 LE software, which can mimic the sound of a variety of amplifiers and special effects and it can also record what you play. The guitar itself is a respectable entry-level triple pickup model that played well and has a whammy bar for bending notes.
The bundle is likely to appeal to an acoustic player wanting to go electric, or perhaps someone wishing to get back into playing. On the strength of some rudimentary video tutorials on the setup disc, it is being marketed to beginners, although technophobic novices would be better off looking at a standard guitar because setting up the USB link and software on a PC was such a hassle that it could put them off learning to play.
You have to install Guitar Rig twice – after the first time it prompts you to upgrade it, which involves a 348MB download and reinstallation of the whole thing. Also installed, adding to the confusion, is some controller software that isn’t necessary.
Then we had to coax Guitar Rig 4 to work with both the guitar and our PC’s sound system. The setup interface was clumsy and, contrary to what the instructions say, the guitar is listed as a generic audio input, which left us to guess that this was what we needed to select.
The documentation does point out that Guitar Rig includes a tuner, which will be of real help for beginners, but otherwise the package seems like a set of products thrown into a box with little attempt to integrate them.
The guitar mated more easily with Garageband, the music software bundled with Mac computers, and it was great fun when we finally did get it running with Guitar Rig on a computer.
The point of packages like this is that they are less hassle for users, but in this case people may be able to get a similar setup just as easily by buying the components separately and picking up some free music software.
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