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Thread What would be best for me?

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1 What would be best for me?
I probably have alot of options to pick from, but I'm just wondering everyone's opinion of what would be best for me so that I can get my feet wet, so to speak.

I play guitar and I have a friend who also plays guitar. I'm wondering what would be the best software and sound card to use for laying down drum and bass lines (realistic rock/metal sounding), and I also would like for the program/sound card to be good for recording and editing actual guitars to go along with the virtual drums and basses.

My friend has a digitech GNX3 guitar effects processor and I have a Johnson JM250 head. These both have midi outputs on them and they are loading with built in effects like reverb, chorus, flange, wah, various distortions, etc.

In your experience, is it better to record a guitar clean or distorted and then use the computer software to add the effects like chorus and reverb, or would it be better just to use our guitar specific gear to do the effects and just simply use the software to record it?

Even though the sound card part of the question should probably go in the hardware section of the forum, I'll go ahead and post it here since it goes along with the overall question.

I'm a computer tech by trade, so I know both linux and windows very well, so if linux is a more economical platform then lead me in the right direction to get the stuff (as long as more economical doesn't mean lower quality).

I figure for starting out a sound card in the $300-600 range would be good. I'll have to save up for it, but if it will really do alot better job than an el cheapo card, I'll go ahead and drop the extra cash.

From a cost standpoint I just want an entry to mid level setup and I will build onto it and get more equipment as I go along.

Thanks for the help everyone.