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I am a very amateur guitarist (ie not great), but I wanted some fun with my computer and my guitar so I decided to use my computer as an amplifier and a sound effect’s box.

For this I relied on the following software:

  • QJackctl : Sound server control interface
  • Lingot : Guitar Tuner
  • Rakarrack : Box guitar effects
  • Hydrogen : Drum sequencer
  • Jack Mixer : Mixer
  • Audacity : Application of sound recording and sound processing
  • Tuxguitar : Tablature reader (GuitarPro compatible)
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Finally we obtain a software package allowing:

  • Check that your guitar is tuned
  • Playing guitar with some effects
  • Be accompanied by a drum machine
  • Save the result in a file and listen to it later

THE SOUND SERVER JACKD AND ITS GUI QJACKCTL

qjackctl-1
This is central to our software solution, jackd is a sound server for interconnecting the majority of software and devices dedicated to sound. Here is a list of software compatible with the jackd server: http://jackaudio.org/applications

When you want to do any sound processing make sure you have launched your jackd server. To do this just click on <Start> on qjackctl control interface.

The other button very important on this interface is <Connect> to verify and change the connections between the different software.

qjackctl-2

Here for example we have interconnected the Micro 1 to the Rakarrack input, and the  Rakarrack output to the speakers of the Netbook. This has the effect that a sound played in the microphone 1 pass through the Rakarrack software before being returned to the speakers.

TUNE YOUR GUITAR WITH LINGOT

lingot
To play guitar it is better that it’s well tuned. If, like me, you do not have a great musical ear, you can get assistance from your computer. Lingot is a very simple guitar tuner. Just run it; an interface appears with an oscilloscope displaying the sound analyzed and a vu-meter indicating the currently playing note. Here the A (too bass), ie the second string of the guitar.

For that the note be quite correct, it is necessary that the vu-meter needle be positioned in the center (the green part). To the left is too bass, right is too acute..

Remember to check that your configuration is correct in jackd :

  • The microphone (output) has to be connected with Lingot (input).

For more information on Lingot : http://www.nongnu.org/lingot/

RAKARRACK / THE GUITAR SOUND EFFECTS TOOLKIT

rakarrack
This software is a gold mine for any guitarist, indeed it can set effects to apply to the sound of your guitar, you can set the following items in particular:

  • Equalizer
  • Sound compression
  • Sound distortion
  • Override
  • Echo
  • Reverb
  • Chorus
  • Phaser
  • Flanger

If like me you’re a bit lazy, the software offers 160 preset effects. To select one, just use the <Bank> button. Finally, to activate the effects don’t forget to click on the <FX On>.

Here the Jackd settings :

  • Microphone (output) is connected with Rakarrack (input).
  • Rackarrack (output) is connected whith Speakers (input).

For more information on Rakarrack : http://rakarrack.sourceforge.net/

HYDROGEN : ACCOMPANY YOU WITH A DRUM

hydrogen
When you play an instrument it is essential to play within rhythm, for it is often used:

  • His foot which tappe the beat
  • A metronome
What‘s more fun is being able to benefit from a real drum machine, Hydrogen is for you.

It has a multitude of predefined drums and allows you to position the pattern for playing the desired rhythm in a loop (eg POUM—PAM—POUM-POUM-PAM—).

Here the Jackd settings :

  • Hydrogen (output) is connected to Speakers (input).

For more information on Hydrogen : http://www.hydrogen-music.org/hcms/

JACK MIXER TO MIX DIFFERENT INPUTS INTO A SINGLE STREAM

jack_mixer_128
With Rakarrack and Hydrogen, we have two sources of sound to manage, it’s therefore necessary to use a mixer in order to:

  • Control the volume of each source
  • Merge the two source into a single stream

Jack Mixer is a mixer especially designed for jackd server, simply create as many entry points as desired (menu Edit/Preference/Add Input).

Here wee need two entry points :

  • In 1 : for Rakarrack
  • In 2 : for Hydrogen

Here the Jackd settings :

  • Delete the connection beetween Rakarrack (output) and Speakers (input).
  • Delete the connection beetween Hydrogen (output) and Speakers (input).
  • Rakarrack (output) has to be connected with Jack_Mixer/In 1 (input).
  • Hydrogen (output) has to be connected with Jack_Mixer/In 2 (input).
  • Jack_Mixer/Main (output) has to be connected with Speakers (input).

For more information on Jack Mixer : http://home.gna.org/jackmixer/

AUDACITY : RECORDING YOUR PERFORMANCE

audacity
Audacity is sound toolkit, it can record a sound source, apply filters, and tweaking recorded track. Audacity is not seen by the qjackctl interface, against in its interface you can determine the origin of the source server and the jack is supported.

It is therefore necessary in the Edit/Preferences select JACK as the type of sound card and jack_mixer as an input device. From now on when you press the button to record it records the output of the mixer, ie the output of Hydrogen and Rakarrack.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

For more information on Audacity : http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

TUXGUITAR TO READ AND EDIT TABS FOR GUITAR

tuxguitar
I add in this article a small reference to Tuxguitar, indeed it’s a guitar score editor. It displays the partition as a tablature which is much easier for a guitarist. It allows:

  • Import your GuitarPro files
  • Import MIDI files
  • Edit the partition with the fretboard display
  • Export to various formats including PDF and MIDI

For more information on Tuxguitar : http://tuxguitar.herac.com.ar/

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