Saturday, April 27, 2013

Electric guitars on Ubuntu 13.04

I decided to learn how to play the guitar when I saw that Coursera was offering a beginner's course by Thaddeus Hogarth from Berklee College of Music. I bought an electric guitar and decided to use the laptop as the amplifier rather than purchasing an actual one. It took me close to 4 hours to set up the electric guitar, guitar effects app (Rakarrack), guitar tuner app (FMIT) and recording app (Audacity) on Ubuntu 13.04. I am using a USB to PC Guitar Link to connect the guitar to the laptop.

Guitar Link USB Connector

Setting it up is not straightforward. I could not get the audio to work for most of the time. I wanted to share the steps I took to help noobs like me set up an electric guitar on Ubuntu with minimum hassle and without using the Terminal.

Step 1: Install the following apps from the Ubuntu Software Center
  • Rakarrack - Comes highly recommended from most of the users
  • Audacity - Comes highly recommended from most of the users
  • FMIT - Many users recommended Lingot and GtkGuiTune but Lingot did not recognize the USB Audio Input and GtkGuiTune refused to open in Ubuntu 13.04
  • QJackCtl - Required to use Rakarrak and FMIT
Step 2: It would be advisable to turn off the internal mic of the laptop or remove any external mics of the PC or laptop.

To turn off the internal mic, go to the Sound Settings --> Input --> Internal Microphone and select OFF next to Input Volume

Select the Guitar USB input. In this case it says Microphone - PCM2902 Audio Codec and confirm the Input and Output Volume is ON

Step 3: Open QJackCtl and configure the input (this step is important as it sets up the USB guitar link as the input and your headphones or speaker as the output)

Select Setup...

In the Input Device option click > and then select  the Guitar USB Input (USB Audio CODEC - hw:1 in this case)

In the Output Device option click > and then select the laptop or PC sound card (HDA Intel PCH - hw:0 in this case)

Click OK to save the changes and return to the QJackCtl app.

Step 4: Start JACK connection by clicking Start and open Rakarrack

Step 5: Establish connection between Rakarrack and the system audio by clicking on Connect in QJackCtl

Establish the same connections as shown above. To learn how to do the same you can check this video.

Step 6: Set up Audacity to accept Rakarrack as the input. For this go to Edit --> Preferences --> Devices and ensure the following settings are selected and click OK

  • Interface Host = JACK Audio Connection Kit
  • Playback Device = system
  • Recording Device = rakarrack
  • Recording Channels = 1 (Mono)
You can now test recording by clicking the record button.

That's it! You can now use your laptop to record and playback your guitar.

If you do not wish to use Rakarrack and just use the laptop or PC for playback, do the following. The following steps includes setting up the guitar tuner FMIT too.

Step 7: Make sure Rakarrack and Audacity are closed but QJackCtl has to remain open. Now open FMIT.

Now you will have to setup a connection between the guitar USB input and the computer's output.

As before set up the connections as above. You will now be able to tune the guitar using FMIT and play the guitar without effects from Rakarrack.

Happy jamming!


  1. thank you very much
    . your post were very helpfull.

  2. Thank you for these very helpful directions. I had so much fun, and have plans to lay down some tracks soon!

  3. Hey! Thanks so much for the post, it's been really helpfull. I have a question though; I'm not pluggin anything in the ouput of the guitarlink usb, but i can't get the sound to be reproduce by the pc while de usb is on; is there a way of doing that? Thanks! :)

    1. Hello Nikolaos, I'm glad you found this post helpful. I'm not an expert at this but from what I understood from your post, you may want to recheck step 3. i.e. selecting the correct Output device. **Warning - Be careful while trying this ** You may need to increase the volume on your guitar and the PC and try the speakers (or headphones) connected to the PC.

  4. Thank you very much for the good work and the helpful explanations!

  5. Hi. Thanks a lot. That explanation is really helpfull. But i have one problem after setting up my guitar, i have no audio from youtube or any other system application.
    My settings are hw:CODEC,0 (ucg102 analog in) and hw:MID,0 (onboard audio ALC269 analog out)
    I used to work with VB-Audio on Windows to fix that. How can i fix it on Ubuntu?

    1. You may have to open the sound settings in Ubuntu and select the system default audio as the output. I haven't experienced this issue before.

    2. You may have to open the sound settings in Ubuntu and select the system default audio as the output. I haven't experienced this issue before.

  6. Hi! Thanks a lot! Just a suggestion. If you use the output for headphones on the guitar link, you can work with a less latency and a better quality than the internal card!


  7. What about the sound quality? It is better to use the behringer link?

  8. This tutorial was really helpful, Aksath. Thank you :) With minor modifications, these instructions also work fine if you use Guitarix instead of Rakarrak, just choose gx_head_fx as the recording device instead of rakarrack in step 6. metalchri's recommendation to use Guitar Link's own headphone socket to reduce latency and enhance sound quality was useful as well. Rock on, motherfuckers! -Juha

  9. Here's a screenshot of step 6:

  10. Obrigado por compartilhar esta informação.


  11. Thanks, man. I connected my guitar and it all worked.
    I just need a better Rakarrak setup.

    Great post.

  12. In case you want to use Guitarix instead of Rakarrack, this screenshot shows how to make the right connections in qjackctl.

  13. E como faço pra usar o guitar Rig e o guitar Link?desde ja agradeço a atenção


  14. And how do I use the guitar Rig and the guitar Link?

    1. Tente usar o Guitar Rix para Linux ao invés do Guitar Rig que só tem para Ruindows. Muito bom!

  15. The guitar link is the one from Behringer... Or can you give me the link to buy a similar one...

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  17. Hi Akshat, Thanks very much for your tutorial. It certainly looks useful. I'm not on Ubuntu any more, but switched to KDE Mint years ago. And since Mint is a Ubuntu derivative, chances are that your proposition may work on Mint as well. However, I never really got the hang of qjackctl's Connect and Patchbay set-up, so I'm now wondering as to whether KXStudio's Cadence might be a suitable substitute for Jack, in the set-up as presented.

  18. I'm trying to Guitar Link to play into my laptop and output to a recording stream and output to my bluetooth speaker. I want to be able to hear through the bluetooth and record if I like what I am playing.