Can you plug headphones into a guitar?

Can you plug headphones into a guitar? It is possible to use your headphones with the guitar by using a headphone amplifier, guitar amplifier, or using guitar pedals.

Every guitar player understands the immense importance of practice. After all, the 10,000 hour rule certainly does apply to instrument playing as well. If you live in a shared accommodation or a similar living space, you may have wanted to practice playing your instrument quietly at night. To accomplish this, you would need to connect a set of headphones to your guitar. However, this simple task may require a bit of ingenuity.

Today we will be answering the question “Can you plug headphones into a guitar”, and also examining the different ways to do this.

Can You Plug Headphones into a Guitar?

If you have ever looked at the output jack on your electric guitar, you may have noticed that it looks similar to a headphones-out port on your smartphone or computer. This guitar output jack is meant for ¼ inch cables while the headphones out port is meant for an 1/8th inch or 3.5 mm cables.

You can convert the jack on a set of headphones from ⅛ inch to ¼ inch size using a simple adapter. Once you have accomplished this conversion, you may be tempted to plug your headphones directly to your electric guitar’s output jack.

However, this arrangement would not work.

Why Can’t You Plug Headphones Directly into a Guitar?

The aforementioned arrangement doesn’t work for the simple reason that you need electricity or a power source to make your electric guitar’s pickups work. This revelation may be disappointing for guitarists who were seeking an easy way to practice their instrument quietly.

The good news is that it is possible to connect your headphones to a guitar with the help of additional equipment.

What Methods Can You Use to Connect Headphones to a Guitar?

There are many ways to connect your headphones to a guitar in the 21st century. Some of the equipment we will discuss in this section has been around for many decades, while others are more recent-inventions that were designed specifically for this purpose. So let’s dive into it!

Connecting headphones to a guitar using headphone amplifiers

The easiest way to connect your headphones to your guitar is with the help of a guitar headphones amplifier. This device is usually the size of a matchbox and features a guitar jack protruding from one side. Guitarists can simply plug this jack into their guitars and connect their headphones into a small headphones-out port on the side of the device.

The guitar headphones amplifier essentially contains a small battery-powered amplifier that delivers the power needed to amplify the guitar signal to listenable levels for headphones. Many top brands such as Fender and Vox create guitar headphone amplifiers, so you can rest assured that these devices offer stellar sound quality. You should note that some of these devices are designed to emulate the sound of different guitar amplifiers. You may need to shop around to find a suitable guitar headphone amplifier if you are looking for a clean and natural sounding tone.

Guitar headphones amplifiers are also battery powered. This means you can practice on-the-go, which makes them great for traveling guitarists who are away from their usual practice space.

Connecting headphones to a guitar using amplifiers

Guitar headphones amplifiers are a relatively recent invention. If you wanted to connect your headphones to a guitar in the 90s or earlier, you would need to purchase an actual guitar amplifier.

A guitar amplifier needs no introduction. Hearing these powered speakers has inspired countless people to pick up the electric guitar in the first place. There are dozens of iconic guitar amplifiers to choose from, ranging from the Vox AC30 to the Roland JC-120.

The great thing about purchasing a guitar amplifier is that most of them come with dedicated headphones-out ports. You can simply plug your guitar to the amplifier using a guitar cable and then connect your headphones to the headphone port. Note that you may need to use a 1/8th inch to ¼ inch adapter to achieve this in most cases. Modern guitar amplifiers may feature a dedicated 1/8th headphones-out port to make this easier.

The sound quality through most headphones ports is quite good, and you should be able to enjoy playing at your desired volume. As an added bonus, you can also use your amplifier’s on-board effects while jamming silently.

Connecting headphones to a guitar using pedals

The last method for connecting your headphones to a guitar is also guitar straightforward. Guitar pedals have existed for many decades and offer guitarists a range of fantastic effects to play with. Many modern multi-effects pedals feature headphones-out ports. This allows you to connect your headphones to the device while the guitar is plugged into the input.

This arrangement is useful because it does not color the audio signal in the same way that a guitar amp would. You can also use the pedal’s range of effects during your silent practice session and hear them in greater detail using headphones.

Note that you may be able to connect headphones to the line-out port on ordinary pedals as well. The sound quality through this arrangement may be poor. However, it doesn’t hurt to give this a try if you have a pedal laying around.

What is the Best Method for Connecting Headphones to a Guitar?

There is no best method for connecting headphones to a guitar. We would say the easiest method is to purchase a headphones guitar amplifier. This route also uses the least amount of cables, so you can jam out in your room without feeling tangled up.

If you want to use special effects or utilize an amplifier’s tone, we would recommend investing in a multi-effects pedal or guitar amplifier. These arrangements can be costly. However, they work well if you already have a multi-effects pedal or guitar amplifier in your practice space.

The choice of which method to use comes down to a personal preference. Each of the aforementioned methods will allow you to reach your goal of practicing the guitar silently.

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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 Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.