How to Record on Garageband – Getting Started

how to record on garagebandby Owen Critchley
Warner/LoudThud recording artist
Author of Easy Home Recording Blueprint

UPDATE: Recorded on Garageband – Worldwide Film and Label Release for “Years of Tears”

Years of Tears” was recorded entirely using the
Easy Home Recording Blueprint method. Find out more below


Perhaps more than most, I submit that learning how to record on Garageband should be a prerequisite for all aspiring, and even established musicians. In my opinion, knowing how to use Garageband effectively is second only in importance to the ability to write and/or play music.

Pretty strong opinion, I know. However, the effect of Garageband on my own most recent career successes, more than validates this statement. In fact, the results of a year long experiment with Garageband is at the core of my new book: “Easy Home Recording Blueprint – How to make pro-quality records at home.

Garageband is, of course, the multitrack audio recording software that comes fully installed in all new Mac computers. When first released, what seemed like beginner recording software, Garageband has proven itself by quietly, and profoundly, revolutionizing music creation and therefore the business of making music itself.

How to Record on Garageband – First Steps on the Path to Pro Quality Sound

I recognize that the first meeting between person and software, is the most delicate and tenuous point in the entire relationship. It determines in large part whether the relationship continues or ends before it even gets started. With that in mind let’s answer the most basic questions about sending a sound to, and how to record on Garageband.

Q: How do I get a sound I play to show up and record in Garageband?

A: A sound from an instrument or voice that originates in the “real world” (instruments, voice, etc), must be converted to a digital signal that is suitable for the digital world of recording software. Your computer has a built in analog to digital sound converter, allowing you to “plug in and play” directly into the computer. However, for truly high quality sound reproduction, an external hardware converter should be used. (Also known as an I/O box.)

Q: What do I have to know about I/O hardware?

A: External I/O hardware normally attaches to your computer via USB or Firewire cable. Once plugged into your computer’s USB or Firewire input, simply set your computer’s audio preferences to allow the I/O hardware to handle all incoming and outgoing audio. This will bypass the computer’s built-in sound card, thus giving you professional quality analog to digital sound conversion. Nothing fancy. I use the M-Audio Fast Track MKII USB Audio Interface

Q: Ok, so I open Garageband and then what?

A: The true beauty of Garageband is, from this point on everything is, and remains very simple. Go to the upper menu in Garageband and choose “Create New Track.” Each track has a channel which you set to receive a Mono or Stereo signal. If you are simply plugging in a single mic or instrument, the channel should be set to Mono. Click the record button and begin playing or singing. This is your “source sound” and it will show up on the track you created in Garageband. To add an additional layer or instrument, repeat the process beginning with “create new track.” This is the essence of “multi-track recording.

Q: What if I’m not using a Mac? Can you tell me how to get Garageband on Windows?

A: Garageband, so far, is not available for PC. However there is simple multi-track recording software that is very similar to Garageband for PC called Mixcraft 5. (You can download and try Mixcraft 5 for free here)

Q: So that’s how to record on Garageband… but can I make pro sounding recordings with Garageband?

A: The answer is yes. Garageband provides an elegant and cooperative environment for creating great recordings. However, from this point on you must deepen your understanding of the recording process and how to capture sound properly and clearly. This is as much the case with Garageband as it is with all other digital recording software.

Recording tips and tricks: Laying perfect tracks including how to record in Garageband, Mixcraft, or any recording software for that matter

The Easy Home Recording Blueprint provides, what I think is the simplest and clearest guide available in the world for easily making truly professional sounding recordings at home. Read reviews of recordings made using the methods in my book from some of the best ears in the music business on the homepage.

It includes my many specific tricks, tips and techniques that I have documented after an entire year creating recordings using Garageband. My book includes:

  • How to edit in Garageband
  • Understanding like a pro, the power of EQ
  • How to mix in Garageband
  • How to create huge backup vocals using just a few tracks
  • How to create “mile wide” guitars and keyboard tracks
  • How to record bass like a pro
  • How to record vocals like a pro
  • How to easily edit existing beats to create beats of your own
  • How to be heard by thousands of new listeners
  • Tons more… you’ll see

The proof of the power of this incredibly simplified system is the fact that my recordings, using the exact same methods in my book, have gone on to be used in movies, tv, licensing, as well as record label CD releases around the world.

Find out more about Easy Home Recording Blueprint …