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Tools for the Task: Recording Interfaces

Svelte and user-friendly interfaces that make digital recording a snap.

Putting together a simple recording rig that can yield stellar tracks has never been easier, more affordable, and less space-hoggish. We’ve rounded up a few interfaces that can help transfer your ideas between instrument and computer.

Scarlet Solo

A sleek, light, USB-powered interface with phantom power that’s small enough to fit in a gigbag or backpack and tough enough for travel.

FOCUSRITE
$99

AudioBox iTwo

This portable, bus-powered USB 2.0 interface for iPad audio and MIDI has a pair of combo mic/line/instrument inputs with class-A mic preamps.

PRESONUS
$159

UR12

A compact, powerful, and portable interface featuring D-PRE mic preamps, 24-bit/192 kHz converters, and a loopback function for easy live-internet recording.

STEINBERG
$99

UH-7000

This 4-channel pro-level USB mic preamp/audio interface was designed for low noise and high-quality audio. It resides in a rugged, half-rack-sized enclosure.

TASCAM
$399

M-Track Plus

This compact, user-friendly bus-powered USB interface accommodates most input sources. It comes bundled with light versions of Cubase, Ableton Live, and Waves Audio plug-ins.

M-AUDIO
$149

Apollo Twin Solo

This 2x6 Mac Thunderbolt audio interface allows seamless tracking though Universal Audio’s Realtime UAD plug-in processing.

UNIVERSAL AUDIO
$699

Studio Connect Lightning

This audio/MIDI interface for iPad features a front-panel stereo headphone/monitor jack.

GRIFFIN TECHNOLOGY
$149

iRig PRO

A pocket-sized yet full-featured audio/MIDI interface for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Also available: the new iRig HD-A for Android devices.

IK MULTIMEDIA
$150

With a team of experts on hand, we look at six workhorse vintage amps you can still find for around $1,000 or less.

If you survey the gear that shows up on stages and studios for long enough, you’ll spot some patterns in the kinds of guitar amplification players are using. There’s the rotating cast of backline badasses that do the bulk of the work cranking it out every day and night—we’re all looking at you, ’65 Deluxe Reverb reissue.

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Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here! https://amzn.to/3LskPRV

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A technicolor swirl of distortion, drive, boost, and ferocious fuzz.

Summons a wealth of engaging, and often unique, boost, drive, distortion, and fuzz tones that deviate from common templates. Interactive controls.

Finding just-right tones, while rewarding, might demand patience from less assured and experienced drive-pedal users. Tone control could be more nuanced.

$199

Danelectro Nichols 1966
danelectro.com

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The Danelectro Nichols 1966, in spite of its simplicity, feels and sounds like a stompbox people will use in about a million different ways. Its creator, Steve Ridinger, who built the first version as an industrious Angeleno teen in 1966, modestly calls the China-made Nichols 1966 a cross between a fuzz and a distortion. And, at many settings, it is most certainly that.

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The author standing next to a Richardson gunstock lathe purchased from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory. It was used to make six necks at a time at Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keep your head down and put in the work if you want to succeed in the gear-building business.

The accelerated commodification of musical instruments during the late 20th century conjures up visions of massive factories churning out violins, pianos, and, of course, fretted instruments. Even the venerable builders of the so-called “golden age” were not exactly the boutique luthier shops of our imagination.

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