Once you have learnt some chord progressions and riffs and you are beginning to sound like a guitar player it will be time to start getting yourself your own individual sound. These days guitar players can add effects to their playing in many ways. It used to be necessary to connect to an amplifier but now their are guitar plug ins and software to give you all kinds of effects. You can apply distortion, sustain, wah-wah, chorus, flanger, reverb, delay effects and listen to the results in your headphones without disturbing your family or neighbors. All you need is a sound card.
The effects software that many guitarists think is the top of the range is Native Instruments Guitar Rig 3. It is expensive but good. It provides guitar and bass effects by modeling many popular amplifiers, cabinets, microphones, and effect pedals. It has twelve guitar and bass amps, and a matched cabinet module gives you real classic sounds. The Guitar Rig software has faithfully modeled stomp boxes, distortion and volume pedals, eighteen guitar and six bass cabinets, four rotary speakers and nine microphones – all based on popular vintage gear. A great feature of this effects software is the drag and drop interface for mixing your sound. Just choose an amplifier from classic Fender, Marshall, and Mesa Boogie amps, select the size of your cabinet and play around with the forty-four effects.
The Line 6 Pocket Pod Guitar Multi Effects Processor has over three hundred onboard / portable tones and over 3000 presets. Battery-powered and about the size of a tuner, Pocket POD is a portable guitar effects solution. You can use it for effects in front of your amp, or just plug in headphones and practice.
Guitar FX 3 is a cool software that has not been updated for years but it is good and it is free. Just do not expect it to work if you are using Vista and you should make sure you have plenty of RAM. To get started you just plug your guitar into the microphone or line in. It offers a big range of presets plus you can the tabbed menus to create custom tones which can be saved as presets. You can apply distortion, wah-wah, noise gate, compressor, flanger, reverb, chorus, delay and some of other filters.
Another free effects program is Audacity. Audacity is a free, user-friendly audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU / Linux and other operating systems. With Audacity you can record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files, cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together. You can record from a microphone, line input, or other sources and create multi-track recordings. You can change the pitch of your music without altering the tempo, or vice-versa plus Audacity lets you remove static, hiss, hum, or other background noises. The guitarist can alter frequencies with Equalization, FFT Filter, and Bass Boost effects. Other built-in effects include echo, phaser, wah-wah and reverse.
Just so you are not left looking for the guitar effects software using redundant URLs I have left it to you to search using the product names. Some of the software that you need to pay for is available on a trial basis or you might find it for less money on ebay.