Just to tell you guys, what can be done with even the cheapest hardware.When recording my first demo song, I had some PC, Zoom 505 II and a LIVE! soudcard. I made an excellent sound...excellent even on that piece of crap Zoom 505.
Everything I did is...I put my guitar (Ibanez rg470) to The Zoom, then directly to the Line-In on the sound card. And then switched the hardware equalizer to Techno.(Im in the technometal thing
The sound was full, and after I managed to record it twice, it was as powerful as any other sound i heard. Maybe the drawback is that I had to downtune my guitar to B for this...but as I say...the sound was perfect...
To produce drum loops I reccomend either Anvil studio or Fruity loops. From Anvil studio you can export it as MIDI file and from Fruity loops as a Wav file...even each instrument alone, so you can mix it properly.
For recording I used Cubase VST32, but now Im using Cubase SX. Its very difficult to learn almost anything in the Cubase, I myself tried it three times until I finally found out, how to use it...But Its very proffesional...Theres another one program however called Nuendo, but I didnt try it...it should be very similar to Cubase.
I think, that when youre starting with recording, you should use Cakewalk home studio, it has nice colours
and its easier to use.
I now use digitech RP200 pedal and I part the sound...One part is going through the amp and Mic to the Mix. this signal is recorded as one Track...then another at the same time is from the pedal to the computer and through hardware equalizer...the sound is AMAZING POWERFUL AND BREATHTAKING
Just a hint...whenever youre recording guitar on PC ALWAYS have the LINE-IN on full...if not, youll loose the power. you can then lower whole volume, but never move LINE-IN from the max.
Hope, that this will help.