A Guitar Amp/Effect Solution For Linux

with 17 comments

UPDATE 1: For those of you interested in open source alternatives to Guitar Rig, please feel free to read my new post on Rakarrack.

I previously blogged about my satisfactory experience with Arch Linux installation on a second-hand laptop. Now in this post I’m going to turn that $150 laptop into a kick-ass and sexy Amp and Effect Processor. In fact, we will see how lightweight tendency of Arch Linux helps us to achieve a low latency/high quality playback on a computer that is considered somehow outdated in today’s world. Furthermore, we’re going demonstrate the obvious fact that GNU/Linux has already reached the maturity suitable for (semi-)professional audio needs. The project for myself was a bit of stretch and needed a lot of trial-and-error efforts since I was totally new to the whole idea. However the final result is quite superb and amazing:

Guitar Rig 4 Arch Linux

Guitar Rig 4 Pro Arch Linux

Honestly, The idea of buying an audio interface came to me quite unexpectedly as I was initially looking for a rather basic solid-state amplifier for my newly bought Guitar. However, all that changed when I found this nearly new Guitar Rig Kontrol unit at a very tempting price. Just for the record, Guitar Rig Kontrol is an audio interface/pedalboard that pairs with an accompanying software called Guitar Rig Pro to make a solid bass and electric guitar solution. The accompanying software is (unfortunately) not open source (I’d be surprised if it was otherwise) yet it is one of the best amp/effect modeling software out there. There are some open source alternatives but they have nowhere near the capabilities of this one(I will blog about them soon).

Guitar Rig Kontrol Linux

Buying these kind of audio hardware/software packages that have been rarely tested under GNU/Linux may raise the concern of weird unknown incompatibilities. But in the instruction which follows you will see that it’s easy to get these tricky pieces of hardware and software to work on GNU/Linux:

1- Getting Guitar Rig Kontrol 3 (The Hardware) to Work

Guitar Rig Kontrol is supported in Linux through ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) drivers included in the Linux kernel version 2.6.22 and above. The kernel of the Arch Linux installed on my machine is 2.6.36 so it’s supported. Next I had to install JACK and PulseAudio in order to get the hardware to work. After a reboot the input LED indicators started to pick up signal from the connected guitar.

Guitar Rig Kontrol

2- Installing Guitar Rig Pro 4 (The software) under Wine

This step was quite easy. Just put the software DVD and install Guitar Rig Pro using Wine. Then I had to register the software. The software run very well under wine. No extra modification was needed.

3- Connecting The Software and Hardware through WineAsio

At this stage, Guitar Rig 4 couldn’t see the Kontrol hardware. To solve this problem I had to install the final piece of the puzzle: WineAsio. I grabed a copy of WineAsio source code and compiled and installed it on my system ( I also had to download ASIO SDK to have some header files for WineAsio). Finally I registered the ‘wineasio.dll’.

4- Configuring JACK

In order to achieve a decent latency and sample rate I had to install QjackCtl and configure JACK.

QjackCtl Arch Linux

5- Done!

Just run Guitar Rig Pro 4 and set the Audio preferences to WineAsio. The software and hardware are now working smoothly. Incredible!

The record button is not working at this stage. I’m currently playing with settings to find out what is the source of the problem.

Things to do in future

I should start assigning tasks to the Guitar Rig Kontrol keys. I’m currently looking for and open source software suitable for this need. However, this is for another post.

Stay Tuned!


Written by Woody

January 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Posted in Audio

17 Responses

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    I hope you have found this list. Major advantage here is no requirement of wine. Next major advantage everything in that list can be mixed and matched with each other.

    Rakarrack would be a good one to start on. But you will notice it lacking like metronome and other little bits. Reason is the way jack is design. So metronome is basically in drum machine program.

    Recorders are in other programs that make up jack-audio program combination.

    Yes you end up in a lot of cases setting up jack anyhow. Might as well review Jack audio pool of applications as a whole unit of what you can get done.

    Even some jack audio front ends can save collective bundles of applications to startup next time.

    Design is different from windows. You current has it basically double stacked.


    January 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    • Thanks for the list and other suggestions. just made my day. 🙂


      January 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    • Do notice recent 0.6.1 release of Rakarrack and current development has a metronome and Looper. Also is tap tempo, beat tracking and some other new experimental odds & ends. Do keep checking recent development as the project is active. Things aren’t as polished as guitar rig, but on the other hand the user has access to a lot of parameters that the simplistic interface of programs like guitar rig hide from the user — it’s more like a synthesizer effects unit in that regard.


      January 14, 2011 at 6:41 am

      • I’m currently playing with rakarrack. The new features like metronome as you indicated do exist. I’m beginning to like the little software!


        January 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

  2. I would be really interested if you get this working as a vst or can in some way play and record with Ardour or some other sequencer … or even if you can play a track in the background while you jam along. Thanks for the helpful info !


    January 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    • Sure. You are not gonna believe how many other things I already have on my to-do list for this audio system.


      January 14, 2011 at 6:01 am

  3. You should take a look at rakarrack:

    Is a very good piece of software.
    Also if you don’t want to compile rakarrack yourself you cant test it using GNUGuitarINUX a live distro with a RT kernel 🙂

    Regards, todoesverso.


    January 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    • rakarrack is a nice open source alternative. BTW, this GNUGuitarINUX distro seems to be very interesting. noble idea!


      January 14, 2011 at 6:04 am

  4. May be worth investigating Ardour’s site too as I believe the open source implementation of VST is good enough to replace the SDK files?


    January 14, 2011 at 12:35 am

  5. […] a comment » In the last post, I blogged about setting up a guitar amp/effect processor in Arch Linux. In the comments, some […]

  6. I’m assuming you have to create/set up/configure the audio devices and connections from within qjackctl? I’ve spent hours searching and reading documentation on this but it’s over my head. Is there some documentation you can point me to that will help me to understand how to configure jack so I can use Guitar Rig 4 with wine? I’ve found several articles similar to yours but nobody actually explains or describes how to configure the jack connections.


    August 14, 2011 at 4:50 am

  7. Interesting post! There was one thing that wasn’t quite clear to me, however: were you able to get the buttons/expression pedal on Guitar Rig Kontrol to work? For example, could you load a patch that used one of the wah effects and then control it with the expression pedal? I’m not quite sure what you meant by “I should start assigning tasks to the Guitar Rig Kontrol keys.”


    November 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm

  8. Hey, good to hear that this solution can work!
    I am pretty new to linux, in fact, I was force to switch because my NI GR Kontrol stopped working under windows with new computer with only USB3.0 ports. In Ubuntu, it seems like Kontrol works fine. But I got a problem – cannot see Kontrol in Jack. I tried to run Ardour, if I select my onboard cirrus logic soundcard, it starts well but when I select GR Kontrol, it shows error message that Ardour could not start JACK – 1)jack is running as another user 2)your requested audio parameters that are not supported…
    running last version of Ubuntu Studio… dont you have any advantages?


    January 24, 2013 at 9:35 pm

  9. What’s up, I read your new stuff like every week. Your story-telling style is witty, keep up the good work!


    May 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

  10. Do any of these allow me to simply plug a mini jack into the Mic socket without needing jack to sub adaptors….?

    Jay Sutherland

    January 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm

  11. check it out

    Kathleen Tolosky

    June 14, 2017 at 6:00 pm

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