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kclancy
post Oct 2 2008, 10:33 PM
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Hey Gang,

I have been playing guitar for a year now and have decided that I want an electric guitar. The choices are mind-boogling! I am interested in playing blues, rock, and jazz guitar. My price range is $500. I am leaning towards getting a Fender Telecaster. I am going to start trying out different guitars this weekend. If there are any guitars that you think I should try, please let me know.

I have some basic questions about the guitar:
What is the difference between sinlge coil and humbucker pickups?
How does the position of the pickup (neck, mid, bridge) affect the sound?
I have seen some guitars that only have one pickup and it is usually located near the bridge. What are the pros/cons of a set-up like this?
What is the difference between active and passive pickups?

I would welcome your input on amps as well. I plan to play mostly in the house. Maybe one day I will be good enough to play in front of an audience.

Questions about amps:
What is the difference between solid state, tube, and combo amps?
I read in a post that some people were recommending a "processor" instead of an amp. What is this?
Are the effects that come with some of amps any good?

A lesson on the basics of an electric guitar and amp would be interesting. Although, I may be the only one on the board that does not own an electric guitar, but not for long!

Thanks!
Clancy



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Fran
post Oct 2 2008, 11:00 PM
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Hello wink.gif

I'll try to answer your questions, though some of them might be tricky, I'll give you the basics:


What is the difference between sinlge coil and humbucker pickups?
Single coils sound brighter, and can get a bit noisy (humming). Humbuckers have 2 coils, and that cancels noise and their sound is a bit muddier but meaty. Both are great in their own style. Typical single coil guitars: stratocasters. Typical humbucker guitars: Les pauls

How does the position of the pickup (neck, mid, bridge) affect the sound?
The closer to the neck the muddier the sound. The closer to the bridge, the brighter. Some call the bridge pickup the "lead" or "solo" pickup, and the neck pickup the "rhythm", but in reality both can be used for anything, matter of taste. The middle pickup sounds somewhere in between (surprising! smile.gif)

I have seen some guitars that only have one pickup and it is usually located near the bridge. What are the pros/cons of a set-up like this?
Cons: Just one pickup = just one sound. Pros: Cheaper guitar?

What is the difference between active and passive pickups?
Normal pickups are passive. Active pickups have a electronic circuit and are powered by batteries. They process the signal, and give a different kind of sound, often used in metal and quite compressed. Someone else who knows more about this will correct me if I'm wrong smile.gif

What is the difference between solid state, tube, and combo amps?
Solid state: they don't use valves, they sound good at any volume level. But people say they don't sound as good as valve amps.
Tube: The opposite. They sound good when cranked up, have valves = more expensive and more costs, but many swear they have the ultimate, real sound.
Combo: They have valves in the preamp, and solid state in teh power amp. They deliver a tone somewhere in the middle and supposedly benefit from the best of both worlds. But they are not true 100% valve amps.

I read in a post that some people were recommending a "processor" instead of an amp. What is this?
They are a device where you can connect your guitar, and they will digitally emulate different models of amps. They are a good choice to play at home, listening to them with some speakers, headphones or even a real guitar amp. Typical models are PODs and Pandora, to name some of the most used worldwide. They also include multieffects capabilities. Nice stuff.

Are the effects that come with some of amps any good?
Usually no. But they can do the job if you are on budget or just practice at home.

I tried to answer fast. Some of the questions there have triggered long discussions in forums worldwide, such as the tube/solid state amp debate. Hope this helps a bit. smile.gif

A lesson on the basics of an electric guitar and amp would be interesting. Although, I may be the only one on the board that does not own an electric guitar, but not for long!

Wish granted! Andrew has recently started a new series of lessons of guitar basics, see them all here:
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/instructor/Andrew-Cockburn

This post has been edited by Fran: Oct 2 2008, 11:07 PM


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Guitars:
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Effects:
Vox Satchurator, Vox Time Machine, Dunlop CryBaby, Boss MT-2, Boss CE-5, Boss TU-2, Boss ME-70
Recording:
Line-6 POD X3 + FBV-Express, Pandora PX5D

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Praetorian
post Oct 2 2008, 11:09 PM
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Hello and welcome to the electric side! Like you, I love to play blues as well as metal and heavier stuff. I have a strat for bluesy, clean sounds and an Ibanez for when I want a heavy distorted sound. My personal opinion, is that to get the best of both worlds in one guitar...it is hard to beat the Fender Lonestar Strat. It has two single pickups AND a humbucker for when you want to get heavy! The new Lonestar model even has Fender Texas Special single pickups for that distinct electric Texas blues sound a la Stevie Ray! It's about $550 brand new. If I only could have one guitar...this would DEFINITELY be it!
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Fran
post Oct 2 2008, 11:14 PM
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Just one last thing about amps:

When you mentioned valve/solid state/combo I guess you were refering to hybrid amps. That's why I explained you what a hybrid amp is in my first post.

But a combo amp would really be an amp which has a built-in speaker, as opposed to having a separate amp head + a cab. Combo amps can be solid state, valve or hybrid amps. Amp heads are usually valve.

That's important.

This post has been edited by Fran: Oct 2 2008, 11:15 PM


--------------------
Guitars:
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, Ibanez RG2570MZ, Epiphone SG G-400
Amp:
Vox AC4TVH head + V112TV cab
Effects:
Vox Satchurator, Vox Time Machine, Dunlop CryBaby, Boss MT-2, Boss CE-5, Boss TU-2, Boss ME-70
Recording:
Line-6 POD X3 + FBV-Express, Pandora PX5D

GMC wants YOU to take part in our Guitar-Wikipedia!
Have a good time reading great articles and writing your own with us in our GUITAR WIKI!
Share your playing and get Pro-advice from our Instructors: Join REC
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Oct 3 2008, 12:36 AM
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QUOTE (kclancy @ Oct 2 2008, 11:33 PM) *
Hey Gang,

I have been playing guitar for a year now and have decided that I want an electric guitar. The choices are mind-boogling! I am interested in playing blues, rock, and jazz guitar. My price range is $500. I am leaning towards getting a Fender Telecaster. I am going to start trying out different guitars this weekend. If there are any guitars that you think I should try, please let me know.


Welcome aboard kclancy mate smile.gif For blues jazz and rock I can recommend various types, maybe try to find used telecaster with neck humbucker, or Epi LP, they are good guitars.

QUOTE
What is the difference between sinlge coil and humbucker pickups?


Single coil pickup is made out of one coil of copper wire, that is located inside of your pickup. Single coil pickup has a more open, and bell like tone. The dynamics of the single coil pickup is also greater than with humbuckers. Singlecoil sound usually is the sound of a Stratocaster or Telecaster, and can be heard on many records. Listen to some Hendrix, Clapton or SRV for a single coil sound.
Downside of a single coil is that it doesn't handle too much distortion very well compared to humbuckers. Also it is more sensitive to external noise, and other than vibrations from the string, single coil can pickup electromagnetic waves and produce hum.

Humbucker was developed bu Gibson in order to prevent singlecoil from humming. That why it is called a humbucker. (it "bucks" the hum). Compared to singlecoil, humbucker is two stacked singlecoils with reverse polarity that cancel each others hum out, so only the string tone is heard. They have a more flatter, smoother tone, usually are louder that singlecoils. They handle the distortion pretty well and produce a more defined and concrete overdrive tone than singlecoils.
QUOTE
How does the position of the pickup (neck, mid, bridge) affect the sound?

Just as you produce different sound when plucking the string on various places, so the pickup, pickups different kind of vibration throughout the body. WHen closer to the neck, pickup picks a more wider vibration, and produces a more louder, punchier, and bassy tone. As you move closer to the bridge, pickup will get less and less string's magnitude, but more frequent bouncing of the two amplitudes, so it will produce a more brighter tone. As the magnitude is less, pickup should be adjusted a bit closer to strings to compensate this and level up with the bridge pickup.

Usual configurations are bellow, but various combinations are possible which add to the felexibility:

from bridge to neck:

SSS single-single-single (stratocaster type)
SS single-single (telecaster type)
HSS humbucker-single-single (fat strat, and many other brands)
HH humbucker - humbucker (Les Paul type)

QUOTE
I have seen some guitars that only have one pickup and it is usually located near the bridge. What are the pros/cons of a set-up like this?

Some guitars only have one pickup, and they produce only one sound. I don't really know what could be advantages of this kind of setup really. The more pickups you have the bigger is flexibility on the guitar. But it could be an advantage if you don't need any other pickup and need increased sustain because with 1 pickup config (in theory) there is less string pull. This is the force that comes from the magnet inside the pickup and prevents the string to ring more. In theory it is like that, but IMO that's just theory.

QUOTE
What is the difference between active and passive pickups?

Active pickup needs battery power for operating. The battery is there usually to provide increased output of the pickup. The technology behind active pickup is to increase clarity and output of the pickup by introducing a small preamp stage in the guitar itself, combined with specific pickup technology. Example of active pickups are most of EMG's pickups, that handle massive distortions very well.
Passive pickup is an everyday regular pickup that you find in most guitars. It is a matter of personal preference which are better, but active do tend to sound better with hi gain music styles, and passive with a bit more classic styles, although this is not a rule.

QUOTE
What is the difference between solid state, tube, and combo amps?

combo amp can be both solid state and tube. Combo means that with amp you get a speaker in the same box. So when you see a speaker with amp in the same cabinet it is a combo.
Different kind is Head+cabinet amp. The example of this is halfstack. It consists of two parts head (the amp) and cabinet (the box with speakers. head+amp is good because it allows you to mix different cabs with different amps, and don't have to carry around both at the same time if you have cab already in studio/club.
Combo is all-in-one solution for situations where you need everything in one box, and ready to play.

Solid state and tube amps are amps with different way of working.

Tube amp uses vacuum tubes to amplify the signal. The good side of tubes is that they produce a more natural and dynamic sound. This is because tube handles clipping well, and when you play the guitar (which is in terms of signal dynamics a percussive instrument) when the signal peaks, tube doesn't cut the signal so sharply as solid state. When tube clips the sound, it produces a more natural tone, playing even harmonics (high frequency voices or transients that are in harmony with the guitar signal. ALso tubes handle a massive amounts of voltages and a very electrically robust. Tube amps are a bit expensive, mainly because of the need to put voltage regulators into amps that will create massive amounts of voltages they need in order to operate.
The downside of tubes is that they are a bit fragile and sensitive, amp must warm up a bit before use, and must be handled with a certain degree of caution.

Solid state amps use electronic diode (transistor) to clip the sound. They produce a more sharper sound, because they clip the signal sharply and unnaturally, creating odd transients which are not in harmony with the guitar signal and can sound a bit harsh. Also because of that hard clipping they do not have the same dynamics as tubes. But solid state amps are cheap because they use small voltages and don't require trannies (regulators of voltage). They are also lighter than tubes and diodes cost very little compared to tubes. Also amp is ready to work as soon it is on, and these amps are more safer to operate, and road worthy. So why people don't use them? Because of the hard clipping.

QUOTE
I read in a post that some people were recommending a "processor" instead of an amp. What is this?

Processor is a device that takes the guitar signal, converts it into a digital stream and performs complex mathematical calculations in order to emulate the sound from amps, and various effects. these devices are relatively cheap, but there are high end processors as well, capable of some hi quality sounds. When speaking in terms "recommending proc instead of amps" - Processor is a better option with beginners, that don't have enough money for the real amp, and need to play wit something. With processor they can tryout al l sorts of different effects and amp sounds and experiment, and then when they see what they like they can buy the real thing.
It can be good for professional musicians that need all-in-one package for frequent gigging on places where quality is not so important.
QUOTE
Are the effects that come with some of amps any good?

Usually not. These effects are usually digital. The exception is reverb, and reverb effect is usually good, because it is not digital. It is called a spring reverb, and it uses springs inside of an amp to simulate echo/reverberation. IMO the amp should be as simple as it can. But amp with effects is good cheap all in one solution with beginners who don't have money to buy separate effects and need some effects right away. As with processors, it can be good for professional musicians that need all-in-one package for frequent gigging on places where quality is not so important.

QUOTE
A lesson on the basics of an electric guitar and amp would be interesting. Although, I may be the only one on the board that does not own an electric guitar, but not for long!

some of my own:
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/misc-less...all-amp-avt50x/
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/misc-less...ss-sd1-and-ds1/
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/misc-less...s-dd20-and-ce5/
and a great Andrew's series:
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/misc-less...the-grand-tour/
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/solo-guit...teps-lets-play/
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/solo-guit...e-this-as-well/

Cheers mate smile.gif


I have seen some guitars that only have one pickup and it is usually located near the bridge. What are the pros/cons of a set-up like this?
Cons: Just one pickup = just one sound. Pros: Cheaper guitar?

laugh.gif true

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Oct 3 2008, 12:31 AM


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fkalich
post Oct 3 2008, 12:40 AM
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I can see why so many give Ivan top billing for most helpful. Wow, that was a lot of work.

My two cents. I have a Telecaster, as well as another Fender, 5 Gibsons, and a Parker.

If there was one guitar, only one, It would be, without a shadow of a doubt, as Les Paul. Not everyone will agree. I cannot for the life of me see how at any corner of the Universe that could possibly make any sense, but go figure.

If you look on Ebay, you can get one like Gabriel's (ebony) for a good price used. A Les Paul Studio. Those are good guitars. Assuming you are in the US. Just make sure whoever sells it is not an idiot, and that he will guarantee the neck is not warped/twisted. Always contact them to make sure you get a response from a guy who will back it, and who knows guitars. If they won't give you a good response to that question (neck not warped or twisted) then keep looking.

edit: here is a recent sale of one in good shape but with player wear for $600

http://cgi.ebay.com/1990-Gibson-Les-Paul-S...id=p3286.c0.m14

you can get one cleaner for $700 or so if you are patient.

edit: oh, also ask about the truss rod, that it works fine and takes bow out. the thing you have to be careful about with a used guitar is the neck. especially when it is not a bolt on. I would ask a question like this

"Do you guarantee that the neck is not warped or twisted, and that the trus rod adjustment work properly?"

If the guy won't give an affirmative, just walk, that is a reasonable question, and the one you have to be sure on.

This post has been edited by fkalich: Oct 3 2008, 12:48 AM
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TheOldOnes
post Oct 3 2008, 07:24 PM
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An important suggestion - don't buy a cheap starter guitar that you often see in music shops. They are typically poor sounding and difficult to play.

In general, the better the quality, the easier the guitar is to play which makes learning far easier.
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kclancy
post Oct 4 2008, 12:02 AM
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WOW! That is a lot of great info. The vids are perfect.

I am really interested in those POD/Panda thing-a-ma-gigs. They will make my wife happy if I can plug in some earphones. They are not cheap though. It looks like the POD costs about $300. Could I get a decent amp for that money?

I am lokking forward to trying out some guitars this weekend. I wish I was a better guitar player. It is intimidating to play with everyone around.

Cheers,
Clancy
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Praetorian
post Oct 4 2008, 01:24 AM
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QUOTE (kclancy @ Oct 3 2008, 07:02 PM) *
WOW! That is a lot of great info. The vids are perfect.

I am really interested in those POD/Panda thing-a-ma-gigs. They will make my wife happy if I can plug in some earphones. They are not cheap though. It looks like the POD costs about $300. Could I get a decent amp for that money?

I am lokking forward to trying out some guitars this weekend. I wish I was a better guitar player. It is intimidating to play with everyone around.

Cheers,
Clancy


Clancy,

Will you be playing mostly at home in front of your PC getting lessons from this site? If so, then you can save a LOT of money and pick up a Toneport GX from Line 6, the same company that makes the POD. I have a POD 2.0 that was $200 brand new. I played through it into headphones for awhile...but now I have a Toneport GX. It was $50.00 from Guitar Center and it plugs right into your PC, turning your PC into the POD! There are a ridiculous amount of presets giving you any sound you want and you can tweak them 'til your hearts content! You can play into headphones as well. Ever since I got the Toneport, my POD has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust. I will keep it in case I am playing somewhere away from my PC, into an amp though...the Toneport can't do that! It only works with a computer.




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Fran
post Oct 4 2008, 10:59 AM
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Plus the toneport will also allow you to record via USB in the computer. PODs can do that too (at least the expensive ones such as XT and X3). But the Toneport has to be used with a computer, always, while the pod can be used standalone. Pandora is a nice option too, similar to pods.

One popular inexpensive guitar for beginners is the Yamaha Pacifica Strat. They are around 250-300$ and are good for the price. Some epiphones such as the G-400 (SG body with humbuckers) would be a nice inexpensive choice to start. And a step above would be the already mentioned Fender Mexican Strat.

Don't be shy to try the guitars at the shop, it's your money you are spending and you should feel fine, get the guys at the shop to explain you the features of each guitar etc.

Have fun smile.gif


--------------------
Guitars:
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, Ibanez RG2570MZ, Epiphone SG G-400
Amp:
Vox AC4TVH head + V112TV cab
Effects:
Vox Satchurator, Vox Time Machine, Dunlop CryBaby, Boss MT-2, Boss CE-5, Boss TU-2, Boss ME-70
Recording:
Line-6 POD X3 + FBV-Express, Pandora PX5D

GMC wants YOU to take part in our Guitar-Wikipedia!
Have a good time reading great articles and writing your own with us in our GUITAR WIKI!
Share your playing and get Pro-advice from our Instructors: Join REC
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kclancy
post Oct 4 2008, 06:06 PM
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Great suggestion Praetorian. I owe you a few beers! I will be playing in front or very near the computer. At least for the next six months. During that time I can save up an amp.

Thanks Fran - I will also look into the Pandora and give those guitars a try.

Cheers,
Clancy
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Oct 4 2008, 08:00 PM
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If you need something for home recording it is good to check out Toneport. Check out my review here. Cheers smile.gif


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Praetorian
post Oct 5 2008, 12:14 PM
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Another great review Ivan! Kclancy - if you don't plan on singing also and want a cheaper version, take a look at the Toneport GX...here is the direct link...http://www.line6.com/toneportgx/

Also, I saw that the Yamaha Pacifica was mentioned above as a good starter guitar. I started out on a Pacifica 012 and loved it! It had a single - single - humbucker setup and played very good for a cheap guitar. I got it used on ebay for $75. I sold it when I got my Ibanez...for $100!


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Oct 5 2008, 02:33 PM
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+1 for Pacifica guitar. It is a good guitar for beginners. But you can also find a mexican Tele with humbucker for 500$ I think. If you get a good piece this would be a good buy.


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Oxac
post Oct 5 2008, 03:08 PM
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I'd just like to explain more in depth of the "special wound" Ivan mentioned regarding the emgs.

Active pickups are wound with a thicker wire and wound a lot less revolutions than a "normal" passive pickups. The effect of this is:

1) Less losses in the electric signal produced by the pickup
2) A lot lower output

This actually means that the EMG pickup provides a more "accurate" sound but with a lot lower volume. The circuit in the guitar has (when emgs are installed) a small battery powered preamp that Ivan mentioned that enhances the signal hence the in total higher output.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Oct 5 2008, 03:37 PM
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QUOTE (Oxac @ Oct 5 2008, 04:08 PM) *
I'd just like to explain more in depth of the "special wound" Ivan mentioned regarding the emgs.

Active pickups are wound with a thicker wire and wound a lot less revolutions than a "normal" passive pickups. The effect of this is:

1) Less losses in the electric signal produced by the pickup
2) A lot lower output

This actually means that the EMG pickup provides a more "accurate" sound but with a lot lower volume. The circuit in the guitar has (when emgs are installed) a small battery powered preamp that Ivan mentioned that enhances the signal hence the in total higher output.


Thanks for sharing mate, I learn something every day here on GMC smile.gif


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Praetorian
post Oct 5 2008, 04:01 PM
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Here you go kclancy...an idea of what you can get in the Pacifica line on ebay.

$80 with a hardshell case!

http://cgi.ebay.com/Yamaha-PACIFICA-electr...id=p3286.c0.m14


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kclancy
post Oct 5 2008, 10:14 PM
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QUOTE (Praetorian @ Oct 5 2008, 08:01 AM) *
Here you go kclancy...an idea of what you can get in the Pacifica line on ebay.

$80 with a hardshell case!

http://cgi.ebay.com/Yamaha-PACIFICA-electr...id=p3286.c0.m14



That guitar has a nice look to it. The price is silly low.

QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Oct 4 2008, 12:00 PM) *
If you need something for home recording it is good to check out Toneport. Check out my review here. Cheers smile.gif



Great review Ivan. I did not know how it worked until I saw your schematic draw. That was reall helpful.

Could I plug my guitar into this unit, load up a lesson, and then play the lesson and the guitar at the same time through the computer speakers?
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Fran
post Oct 5 2008, 10:36 PM
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QUOTE (kclancy @ Oct 5 2008, 11:14 PM) *
Could I plug my guitar into this unit, load up a lesson, and then play the lesson and the guitar at the same time through the computer speakers?


Yes you can! Toneports are nice gadgets indeed.

Edit: By the way here's another toneport review, this time of the cheapest model, the GX:
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/wiki/index.php/Toneport_gx

This post has been edited by Fran: Oct 5 2008, 10:40 PM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Oct 6 2008, 01:22 AM
Post #20


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QUOTE (kclancy @ Oct 5 2008, 11:14 PM) *
That guitar has a nice look to it. The price is silly low.




Great review Ivan. I did not know how it worked until I saw your schematic draw. That was reall helpful.

Could I plug my guitar into this unit, load up a lesson, and then play the lesson and the guitar at the same time through the computer speakers?


I'm glad you found it helpful mate, thanks. smile.gif

Yes you can plug guitar and play along with the lesson - no problem.


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