Great place to start!
Just this morning I learned that I can use a 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch mono cable to plug my guitar directly into me Mac!
have you ever used two cheap cassette recorders with built in mics to make your own multiple track recording? Yep I have...LOL Those days are over!
Over the years i have tried many different types of recording equipment, including reel to reel, but the system i have at the present time has proved to be the most user friendly and delivers good sound quality at a reasonable price - most home recording systems will be fine with 16 bit capability, i only have a Dell laptop which copes easily with all my input hardware and software.
1. Sound card - most that come with the computer are pretty good these days, though if you have a desktop PC i can highly recommend the range of M-Audio soundcards with RCA sockets.
2. Recording Interface - again M-Audio do the Fast Track USB which is easy to use and sounds great, fitted with XLR, 1/4 inch jack and stereo input/output sockets, has its own built in soundcard.
3. Speaker Monitors - most desk top speaker systems will do, or use headphones.
4. Microphone - a Shure microphone and stand will be more than adequate, fitted with XLR and/or 1/4 inch jack lead and socket, a microphone preamp will be very useful too, allowing different vocal/instrument variations.
5. Effects - i use a Boss SE-70, a great little unit that delivers.
6. Software - Audacity is a great program that allows multi-tracking and won't put a strain on your system. Sets itself up automatically but remember to tick the "hear playback while recording" box. Many software programs have tempo adjustment but not Audacity, so you can't cheat!
7. Guitar amp - i use a Line 6 micro amp, has plenty of output facilites and effects, like most of them.
Guitar - amp/effects - interface/sound card - Audacity
Microphone - mic preamp/effects - interface/soundcard - Audacity.
Just pull up Audacity on the screen, plug your guitar into your amp, check your levels and you're away!
Save project, Export to Wav. ....or whatever (-;