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Instead of an amp, is it possible to plug in an electric guitar into a Macbook Pro and get the sound from there? Is any special software needed?

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Rogue Amoeba's LineIn:

LineIn is a simple application for OS X to enable the soft playthru of audio from input devices. In simpler terms, you can use LineIn to play sound coming in through a microphone or any other device plugged in to your Sound In port, just as was once available with OS 9's "Play input through output device" option.

For effects and stuff, GarageBand is probably the best place to start. (Then there's obviously no need to use something like LineIn.) You could also try something like Guitar Rig from Native Instruments.

If you find you're pulling your hairs out because of the latency, you could consider getting a USB or FireWire sound card / audio interface.

A word of caution: it's surprisingy easy to damage both the 3.5 mm plugs and sockets, particularly when you're using a 6.35 mm → 3.5 mm adapter.

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Technically speaking, no special software is needed. The audio comes in through a standard cable and all you'll need is the adapter. I can't vouch for the quality though. It is a laptop input after all.

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