Plugging in keyboard and guitar

Plug straight into the Mac?

There are many ways of getting sound into GarageBand, some better than others.
Firstly, you could plug your guitar, keyboard, microphone etc. directly into the Mac audio in port (using a cheap converter cable).
You will find that you don't have much control over the sound quality, the levels and the number of inputs. There is likely to be quite a bit of hum and the need to boost low levels in GarageBand will cause noise and distortion. What you need is an audio interface.

One of the cheaper options is the iMic (see iMic tip on the import/export page ).
One popular input device is the Tascam US 122 audio/midi interface. It is self-powered via USB and available from music shops or from under $200 with free shipping.
A drawback with USB devices is that there often is some latency - a delay in the processing of the sound signal. For this reason, Firewire devices are preferred, even though they generally cost more. More ambitious desktop musicians will need a mixer or "control surface" that allows full control over may audio and midi channels and has an interface designed to give you full hands-on control.

Have a look on the Resources: control GarageBand page for some of the Firewire devices available.
Hooking up a keyboard

There is a lot of confusion about which keyboards are compatible, etc. But hooking up a keyboard is really very simple:
  1. You need a keyboard or digital piano with - MIDI Out -. Almost every decent keyboard you will come across has MIDI out
  2. Modern keyboards have USB out - which channels the MIDI signal to your Mac. If your keyboard does not have USB MIDI Output, you need a USB interface. Fortunately MIDI/USB interfaces are cheap.
[Note: Apple's list of compatible keyboards lists only USB capable keyboards, but don't let that put you off using your own MIDI-only axe.]
Remember we are talking about MIDI data here - not sound! You are using MIDI to play the Mac. If you want to use the keyboard for sound, forget the MIDI port. You should be using audio out into the Mac's audio in, preferably via a mixer.

What is the best keyboard for GarageBand?           all fingers and thumbs

Almost any keyboard will do for putting data into GarageBand, with the exception of the very cheap keyboards without Midi. Midi output is essential. The 5 pin MIDI cable does not fit into your Mac, so you need to buy a MIDI/USB interface. Or choose one of the many a modern keyboards which already have MIDI/USB Out.
Of course some keyboards allow you better control over the music than others. Good keyboards:
  1. are touch sensitive (otherwise all your notes will show a velocity of 63 and sound like they were put in by a woodpecker)
  2. have full size keys
  3. have pitchbend and modulation wheels (unnecessary and undesirable if you only record piano).
  4. you only need a few octaves for use as a MIDI controller; for piano playing, you need at least six octaves.
What are the most popular keyboards for use with GarageBand?
(see also the GarageDoor | Resources | Keyboard controllers)

Check out the The Edirol PCRM30 32-Note USB MIDI Keyboard Controller. Very popular.
Manufacturers description: The PCR-M30 is a revised version of the popular PCR-30. The PCR-M30 offers 32-Keys, 27 assignable MIDI controllers, a software editor, MIDI in and out, and both sustain and expression pedal connections. Another advancement over the PCR-30 is the addition of velocity curves, switchable MIDI interface, and a new key-action found on Roland's higher-end synths.
Another well designed GarageBand controller keyboard is the M-Audio Oxygen 49.
It has 49 keys and 16 MIDI-assignable controllers The 8 knobs, 24 buttons and 9 sliders are ideal for programming and virtual mixing. It is USB powered. triton
Excellent and affordable.

At the other end of the scale, there is the amazingly powerful Korg Triton Studio 88-Key Workstation/Sampler     >>> has these keyboards and others in stock at large discounts. The shipping is free.
zZounds offers the lowest price on keyboards from nearly every brand: Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Alesis, Nord, Waldorf, Technics and many others. You can purchase over 125,000 different music products from their website 24 hours a day. Free Shipping.

Powermate GarageBand update          eerie glow......

If you're not already familiar with Griffin Technology's PowerMate, this simple USB rotary knob provides what a mouse doesn't: the ability to spin and dial your way through apps, perfect for scrubbing through video and audio. With version 1.6, Griffin has updated the PowerMate software with a new customized setting for GarageBand: spin the PowerMate to move through measures of your song, or control playback with its push-button action. The software also includes a push-button sleep more access command, the ability to disable the PowerMate's cool blue LED lights (though how could you part with that lovely eerie glow?), plus enhanced settings for many other apps. The Powermate is on sale at Amazon in aluminum and black.
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