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Finally - DIY guitar input cord

Discussion in 'iPad DIY' started by texaslonghorn, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. texaslonghorn
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    texaslonghorn iPF Novice

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    I finally got it figured out. Yes, without a doubt I could have bought a guitar input adapter pretty cheap but that would simply have been no fun.

    Here is what I did to get the correct impedance matching for electric guitar input to the iPad to record in Blue FIRe (free app) and to play through AmpliTube FREE.

    This is a very easy project even for an absolute beginner. You don't absolutely need to solder the connections, but if you choose not to solder, make *certain* those connection points are very very solid.

    It is important that use the yellow, red and white RCA connector colors exactly as indicated below. Otherwise, you will end up sending input signals into output circuitry of the iPad and vice versa.

    Start off with a basic camcorder output cord (3.5mm connector on one end, 3 separate RCA jacks on the other). You will also need one 1/4" female jack, one 1/4" male jack, 1 2.2kohm resistor (any wattage over 1/8) and 1 0.01uf capacitor (any voltage over 10). It is best to use a something other than an electrolytic cap here. Electrolytics are the cylindrical ones that have a plastic shrink sleeve on them.

    Cut off the RED RCA connector and strip an inch or so of the wire. Solder (or otherwise connect) the ground wire (the wire that is spiraled around the inner wire) to the ground wire connection tab of the female 1/4" jack. That would be the little tab that is NOT connected to the metal part that extends out the back. Got it? Now strip about 1/4" of the insulation from the inner wire. Solder - or otherwise connect - it to one of the leads on the capacitor (if you are not using an electolytic it doesn't matter how the cap is oriented). Now connect one of the resistor leads to that same place. If you prefer, you can connect the leads of the cap and resistor together beforehand. Make sure they are *parallel* rather than connected end-to-end. Now connect the other end of the cap/resistor pair to the other connection tab of the 1/4" female jack. Just to be clear, things should be connected so that the signal will flow through the cap/resistor pair and into the long metal part of the jack that sticks out the back of the female input jack.

    Next, cut off the yellow and white connectors. Strip them. twist the two ground connection wires together. Strip off the insulation of both signal wires and twist them together. Solder or connect the ground wires to the ground signal section of hte 1/4" male connector. This is the long straight shaft part that makes up almost all of the length. Connect the signal wires to the connection tab for the very tip of the male connector.

    There you have it.

    Plug the 3.5mm jack into the headset jack of the ipad. your guitar goes into the female connector. The male connector goes into a guitar amp so you can hear what is coming out of the iPad app your are using.

    Bear in mind this is a mono signal. To record in stereo, I think you have to use the 30-pin connection and I haven't figured that out yet.

    I hope this helps anyone interested.
  2. DarkLordEnron
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    DarkLordEnron iPad Fan

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    Dude, this seriously works? No interference? Great job on this, I might just try this one!
  3. texaslonghorn
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    texaslonghorn iPF Novice

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    Yeah but a couple things. First, in some cases the capacitor screws things up. You can eliminate it - I have. Also, I am now using a 1K ohm resistor - either one works fine. Probably shouldn't go higher than 2.2k ohm though from what I can tell about the iPad audio input requirements.

    Second, it works great for recording on Blue Fire BUT.... It doesn't work for Amplitube - at least the output part into a guitar amp. I haven't tried the iPad output from Amplitube into headphones yet.

    Also if you are recording in BlueFire there is no audio output as you record. So I made a splitter box where the incoming guitar signal splits into 2 directions: one to another output that a patch cord plugs into and goes to the guitar amp. This has the effect of, well, having no effect. The intent is to have the signal go straight to the amp. But the second direction goes to the resistor, then to the wiring for what used to the the RED RCA connector on the camcorder cable. so the guitar signal flows 2 directions - one to the amp so you can hear what you are playing - and the other direction has the impedance correction to go into the ipad for recording.

    I actually got fancy and added another jack that feeds into the input for the iPad. I can plug a mic into that one and then I can record a second "track". It isnt really a track - it is simply multiple instrument inputs onto a mono track. I may end up putting a gain circuit on that one so I can balance the incoming signal from both inputs.

    I need a life.
  4. Metairieman55
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    Metairieman55 iPF Novice

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    Yepp!

    I have to agree.:eek:

    Why waste your time? Use a real computer to make beautiful music with Cubase, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, etc.

    Seriously, I appreciate ingenuity and could consider the possibilities of the Ipad as a sketchpad if you're momentarily out of reach and need to jot down that killer riff. But time is better spent creating music than overcoming limitations of Ipad technology (or reading/responding to posts in an IPad forum like me but I need a break!). A laptop, maybe, but Ipad might do well as a DJ interface tops.

    Who knows. You may lead the way to more music innovation in future IPad incarnations, though. Have at it!:)
  5. texaslonghorn
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    texaslonghorn iPF Novice

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    Metairieman - I don't disagree with you. Except in my particular case, I am not the musician. My 14yr old son is. I am the enabler. My creative outlet is with the soldering iron rather than a musical instrument.
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  6. texaslonghorn
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    texaslonghorn iPF Novice

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    Update

    My son has now tested my device/design and I listened to the recordings. First, not all mics work, but he did find one that did work very well. It must have to do with the specific impedance of the mics, so I am not worried about about that. Also, all the mics he tried are WAYYYYY cheap (none of the more than $10) so again, I am not gonna worry about that.

    I did not install any kind of gain adjustment either - just fixed resistance. The only other physical mods I made were to mount all the jacks in a plastic project box ($4 at Rat Shack), sheilded the box with some leftover high end specailty material (NOT available at RatShack), then potted the whole thing with natural beeswax. It looks nice, holds together well and can stand up to use/abuse without ruining solder joints.

    So now for the results.... very nice sounding! The drums sounded really nice. Maybe a bit of upper end frequency emphasis, but I dont care - that can be adjusted if anything ever gets exported and mixed down.

    So there you go - it works.
  7. masprague
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    masprague iPF Noob

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    hey,

    I really enjoyed your post about making a DIY iRig. I decided to try it on Saturday when I found and old Zune cord that was 1/8" jack and 3 rca cords.

    After I built it, I had a couple of small problems that maybe you with your knowledge could help me with.

    I am using a cheap Squier strat, if that helps in any way.

    First when I plugged everything in it worked. However, if the guitar is on 10 and a strum a bit harder it distorts the signal bad. It is especially evident on the "crunch" amp (looks like an AC-30). Also if I use a fuzz pedal in front of any amp, it sounds like way to much input. In the settings I lowered the input to -15 and the output at zero and still saw the same issue.

    I decided to later just turn my guitar down a few notches. Here it does something weird. once I turn it from 10 to 9 the irig thinks I unplugged my guitar and it stays like that until i get to 1, there it rethinks I have reconnected and the app asks what output im using. If the guitar is on 10 or 1 irig thinks im good. Anything in between I get nothing. Do you think there may be a grounding issue on my guitar? I dont have another guitar to test it out, but I thought you might know what may be up.

    Thanks again for your post, it has saved me 40 bucks.

    Thanks for reading this, hopefully you can help me out

    Matt
  8. nadam
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    nadam iPF Noob

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    Hi texaslonghorm
    i wonder if you can help me with some ideas. I recently bought the ampkit link, an adapter to connect the guitar to ipad, but the device does not work (the ipad does not detect any incoming signal). I think the problem is with the connections inside the adapter. this is because when I take the adapter's output to my marshall amplifier instead of the ipad, the amplifier does not detects any signal and there is of course no amplified sound coming out of the marshall. therefore I conclude that the adapter does not send any signal. perhaps there is not the proper connection inside the adapter to take the signal from the guitar to the jack that goes into the headphone input of the ipad.
    do you have any suggestions?
    Nick.
  9. texaslonghorn
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    texaslonghorn iPF Novice

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    Hi Masprague. Double check all your connections and wiring and make sure all your connections are solid, grounding is good, etc. It sounds like you have way too much gain coming out of your guitar. I would expect that from the fuzz pedal - you can't use an effect with my connector. You also get too much gain sometimes if you turn the volume up to 10. You may have high output pickups - especially if they are EMGs or other actives. If that is the case, you would need to figure out how to bring your output signal voltage down to what the ipad can deal with as an input. I can't recall what that number is, so I am not sure I can help, but you could try different resistor values. Try switching between the 2.2k and the 1k. If you get some improvement, keep going.

    Nadam - it does sound like your adapter is bad. The easiest thing wold be to return/exchange it for a new one.
  10. nadam
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    nadam iPF Noob

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    Thank you. I returned it to the shop and replaced it with a new one, which is working properly.
    Thank you.
  11. ZeekDuff
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    ZeekDuff iPF Noob

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    Thanks for this thread. Because of it, I got a Tascam 1XZ guitar/mic i/o with a physical gain control, and because it uses the 1/8" jack, I can use the multi-pin connector for MIDI with the IK Multimedia iRig MIDI for iPhone/iPad. I should be able to fully use Garageband as intended!

    Best regards,
    ...z
  12. Caustic
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    Caustic iPF Noob

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    Wow, I'm glad to see this works.

    Bookmark'd this thread.
  13. DarylDix
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    DarylDix iPF Noob

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    Great job on this, I might just try this one!

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