excellent points !.. Most serious musicians , i bet, can tell you what kind of pickup is being used on a guitar while listening to a track.. Back in the 70s when i was in a band, i believe everyone loved the Humbucking (sp) pickups..."I would guess that the sound coming into the interface depends mostly upon the guitar's pickups."
Take a great pickup and stick it in a cheap guitar, what do you get?
It's not that simple. What of the guitar itself? Why not just a 2x4 plank of wood from Home Depot?
Physics and the interaction of the body, the strings and the player interacting with the magnetic field of the pickup to induce a signal. Solid body, semi-hollow, hollow, set neck, bolt on, these all have subtle and not so subtle effects.
I took up pickup winding some years ago. I was kind of obsessed with the early Fender pickups. When you build pickups, you need something to put them in to test out what each iteration brings to the sonic pallet. I've a couple of good guitars but didn't want to use those to constantly experiment with. So I started collecting cheap guitars off of craigslist. Doesn't work.
If you go to a music store, grab a cheap electric and play it without plugging it in and listen carefully. Most are pretty dead. Grab a similar good guitar and it should just ring and vibrate in your hands. The tone is in the wood and as Keith Richards says, in your fingers. Pickup is like a microphone. It can be good, great, so so or rubbish. All the rest can't be faked except maybe by computer modeling but that was not the question.
I suppose the answer lies on what exactly is going on once you plug in your guitar somewhere. The signal is passed through an amp and the output is the perception of how the guitar is sounding...
When one uses an audio interface, the output is not going thru a speaker. It is further being processed by the DAW and eventually being routed to speakers.
Does the DAW degrade the nuances of the guitar ?. To fully answer my question, i would have to record my guitar miked through an amp (Which i don't have anymore) , listen to the result on a set of speakers.. and then to compare, i would output my Cubase song with the guttering, to the same set of speakers.
So in other words, does the output of the DAW sound better with a better guitar.. or does all this processing degrade the sound to the point that a $500 guitar would sound like a $2,000 guitar.. Obviously a cheap guitar pickup will have a crappy string pluck/digital output... but i'm taking about at least a midrange quality guitar...
(gee im confusing myself, lol)