Can you play electric guitar quietly? There are various methods to do so. From adjusting the volume on the guitar or amplifier itself to using headphones to isolate the sounds to your ears, all of these are just as effective if you wish to play your electric guitar without making too much noise.
Some of us are trying to hone our skills in playing the guitar. Whether we wish to be the next Jimi Hendrix or B. B. King, making the six strings of an electric guitar sing is essential to be a musical legend.
However, we all know that electric guitars can be rather loud, especially when you’re practicing in closed spaces like your bedroom at home. Sure, you can use an acoustic guitar to minimize the noise, but electric guitars utilize various sound effects that make them iconic.
So, is there a way to play your electric guitar quietly? What pieces of equipment should you prepare to do so? How should you set it up? We’ll show you all the basic things you need to know about minimizing the noise when playing an electric guitar.
Different Methods of Playing the Electric Guitar Quietly
One of the things you’ll likely encounter when practicing an electric guitar at home is the noise levels it can reach. This is particularly difficult for those who live with their families or those who stay in apartment buildings.
Don’t worry. There are various solutions to this. Below are some techniques on how you can practice your electric guitar quietly.
First and foremost, we’d like to suggest that you can always practice your electric guitar unplugged. The major downside to this is, obviously, there is no retention on the notes, and it’s almost as if you’re playing an acoustic guitar on mute.
However, there is also an advantage to this. While you may not hear prolonged notes properly, playing an electric guitar unplugged allows you to get a better feel of the instrument and its strings.
This would help you understand the right hand and finger placement with electric guitars since they often have thinner fretboards and slimmer frets than their acoustic counterparts. By playing an electric guitar unplugged, you will notice the improvement in your finger-playing skills once you can play it with an amplifier.
Smaller amps will still pack a punch, but the good thing is, they’re generally quieter than bigger amplifiers. They don’t require too much power, so there’s often a limit as to how loud they can be.
This is a great choice for those who have some sort of privacy at home and would just wish to reduce the noise a bit without compromising the guitar’s tone. There are dozens of quality amplifiers out there that are specifically intended for practice sessions.
They often function at just around five to ten watts, with dimensions of 6×6 or 12×12 inches. The best part is that they’re also relatively affordable.
If you currently don’t have the budget to buy a practice amp, you can simply adjust the volume in your standard-sized amp and your electric guitar. This is perhaps the simplest, easiest, and most straightforward method to reduce the noise from your instrument.
Electric guitars often have multiple knobs for adjusting the pickup’s tone and volume. Try adjusting the master volume to a level that’s still audible but not too loud. If you wish to further reduce the volume, you can also adjust it from your amplifier.
However, one downside to this is that, since standard-sized amplifiers draw a lot of electricity and power, decreasing their volume may compromise your guitar’s tone.
Here’s one of the most efficient methods of playing your guitar quietly; grab a pair of headphones! Most amplifiers, whether they be practice or standard-sized amps, have a 3.5mm headphone jack for this purpose.
The best part is that doing this would not affect your guitar’s tone. The amp would simply redirect the sounds to your headphones, isolating the noise and preventing other people from hearing you, except, of course, the natural sound of the strings.
Don’t worry. The strings would be too soft to be heard by someone, say, right outside your bedroom door.
On the other hand, if your amplifier does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, try looking for an adaptor online or in music stores. All amplifiers utilize a ¼” or 6.35mm input jack, so what you’ll need is an adaptor that has a 6.35mm input on one side and a 3.5mm output on the other.
If you do not want to spend hundreds of bucks on a practice amp, you can opt for a power attenuator. This will allow you to decrease your amp’s volume without affecting the quality of your guitar’s tone.
This means that a power attenuator is like a little device that turns your standard-sized amp into a practice amp. Basically, its main purpose is to reduce and dissipate the power that your amp receives while still allowing you to hear every detail of your guitar’s sound output.
One major advantage of using a power attenuator instead of purchasing a practice amp, aside from maintaining the tone’s characteristics, is that the former is significantly smaller. So, if you already have a standard-sized amp that takes a lot of space in your bedroom, a power attenuator is your best option.
You can find attenuators that are just around two inches wide and four inches long, with a thickness of only one inch. It’s probably just the same size as an old flip phone, so you can rest easy knowing your place won’t be too cramped.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
If you have a personal computer or a laptop at home, you might be interested to know that you can use this for practicing your electric guitar. The best part is that you don’t need amplifiers or attenuators, just a few sets of cable wires to connect both of these devices.
Another advantage of using your computer or laptop is that you can use software programs that function as digital audio workstations. This means you can adjust the tone and effects of your electric guitar without having to purchase guitar effects pedals and amplifiers that would only take up a lot of space in your bedroom.
While some DAWs are free, if you wish to maximize their potential, or if you plan to record songs or tracks from your bedroom, try investing in DAWs that are more versatile and offer a wider range of effects. Don’t worry. Most DAWs are very affordable.
You just have to also purchase an audio interface that allows you to connect the guitar to your computer and then to your DAW. Most audio interfaces would also have a 3.5mm jack for your headphones.
With all the technology available to us at our disposal, now is perhaps the best time to learn how to play an electric guitar. All of these tools and pieces of equipment that allow us to play this instrument quietly provide us with the sense of privacy we’re yearning for.
Additionally, we also don’t have to worry about disturbing other people who might prefer a quieter environment. Just be sure that you know all the things you need to prepare for playing an electric guitar quietly, and we’re certain you’ll be a skillful guitarist in no time.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.