It takes practice to play any instrument well and the guitar is no different. For a young player or experienced guitarist, practice is crucial. Songs can take hours to master and anything less would be a waste of time.
Acoustic guitar is a more quiet instrument, but being able to play it in public can be very challenging. So, how can we be good partners, roommates, and neighbors while also improving our playing?
In this guide, you’ll understand how to practice guitar quietly without disturbing the peace.
- How to Practice Electric Guitar Quietly
- Play Without Amplification
- Play Through a Battery-Powered Mini Amp
- Practice Quietly Using Headphones
- Practice Using a Mini Amp Sim Device
- Play Through Recording Software
- How to Play Acoustic Guitar Quietly
- Dampen Your Guitar’s Sound With a T-Shirt
- Practice Using a Feedback Dampener
- Try Using an Acoustic Guitar Silencer
- Consider a Silent Travel Guitar
- Practice Using Palm-Muting
- Consider Your Practice Space
- Practice Without a Guitar (No, Seriously)
- Run Through Your Fingerings
- Perfect Your Pitch
- Work on Your Finger and Grip Strength
- FAQ for How to Practice Guitar Quietly
- How can I practice guitar without disturbing others?
- What are benefits to practicing guitar quiet?
- Is it important to practice guitar quiet?
- What types of noise can occur when playing guitar?
- Should I use headphones when practicing guitar?
How to Practice Electric Guitar Quietly
Unlike most musical instruments, there are several ways to practice and play guitar quietly. Improve your skills without waking your parents, girlfriend, or the grumpy old lady in the apartment beneath yours.
Play Without Amplification
If you wanted to play the electric guitar, you would need an amplifier. This electric setup gives a lot more wattage than even a softly strummed acoustic guitar. The sound is largely treble and that is harder to enter a room than deep bass. There are many ways to practice guitar, but this one is the easiest.
Whenever the mood strikes me, I pull out my guitar and play. I prefer to play my practice songs without using anything that might interfere with the sound. I believe it provides me a better connection between musical thought and sound, and is a good way to help with creativity while working through stuff.
Play Through a Battery-Powered Mini Amp
You’ve seen those tiny, palm-sized amps in the guitar store or online: they look like someone messed up a Marshall combo with a shrink ray and all you need is one of them! These small, portable, battery-powered amps are produced by a variety of top amp brands and deliver a surprisingly quality sound.
It’s important to remember that battery-powered mini-amps can be played at a much lower volume than most larger ones, so you don’t have to listen at the top of your lungs. Before practicing with a batter-powered amp in the dead of night, experiment a bit, and see how far the sound travels at lowest volume.
If your significant other wakes up easily or is sensitive to noise, it’s probably best to choose a different partner. Another way of playing electric guitar quietly without sacrificing the guitar’s volume or digital effects is to play using headphones.
Practice Quietly Using Headphones
Going without an amp or playing through a battery powered mini amp are both great ways to avoid playing loud at home. This is especially helpful for those who need to avoid disturbing others. But what if you’re learning the pinch-harmonic scale, trying to master sweep picking, or need to improve your wah pedal skills?
You’ll want to practice with headphones, in cases such as this. You probably play your electric guitar more often in the background or at home because it’s so easy to practice quietly with headphones.
Plug in your headphones or earbuds to enjoy your favorite riffs, licks, or solos. You can also plug into the output jack of an amplifier, modeling processor, or multi-effects pedal for more effective sound.
If your earbuds have a one-eighth plug and your amp has a one-quarter jack, you’ll need an inexpensive converter. In the long run, the guitar specifically targeting apps can save you a lot of time energy. If you happen to be an avid guitarist and have seen your fair share of improvements, then a few bucks is worth it!
Practice Using a Mini Amp Sim Device
Most amplifiers come with audio-output jacks. If yours doesn’t, or you’re looking for more portability as you practice, you might consider using a mini amp simulator device.
Mini amp sim devices eliminate the need for amps, guitar cables, and effects pedals, which is a huge help for the people out there who want to practice without having to buy those things themselves. Sims are software programs that let you synthesize your guitar tone. They come in many shapes, sizes and styles to fit the needs of any guitarist. Connect your headphones or earbuds into the audio-out jack and start working out!
I haven’t tried mini amp simulators yet, but I’m intrigued after reading up on them. They usually come with a lot of effects and are quite affordable. I might have to add this tool to my computer sooner rather than later.
Play Through Recording Software
There’s one more way to play guitar quietly, and that’s to play through recording software. Many guitarists today use digital recording software, including me . Playing composing is a lot easier with it, and it provides a quality that is not possible via other means. To connect your guitar to your computer, you’ll need a midi interface. They’re easy to find, and the quality of one is no different than another.
A guitar midi-interface lets you plug your electric guitar or bass into your computer. Some are built for music, like a plug-and-play guitar program called Garage Band.
You’ll need software to record whatever you’re playing editing MIDI, but it can be expensive. It’ll be a while before we need to go that extravagant, so we’re using software meant to make less-demanding projects. To get started using Audacity there are no costs. It’s completely free.
It probably doesn’t make sense to buy a midi-interface just to practice the electric guitar quietly. If you’re looking to purchase studio monitors, you should make sure they have a headphone jack. If they don’t, your other option is most likely the KRK Rokit series.
How to Play Acoustic Guitar Quietly
If you’re wondering how to play guitar quietly, but the loud acoustic guitar is your ax of choice, don’t worry; there are just as many ways to play acoustic guitar quietly.
Play with your knuckles, experiment with alternative tunings, and focus on how the guitar sounds.
Dampen Your Guitar’s Sound With a T-Shirt
One effective way of quieting your acoustic practice playing is to get a t-shirt or two and stuff them into the soundhole of your instrument. When you’re playing electric guitar, it’s a smart idea to dampen the volume of your acoustic practice in order to not disturb neighbors. It’s also inexpensive and will create a more sanitary environment for your guitar.
Some electric guitars can be difficult to take apart. You might have to look into replacing a broken or upgradeable part in order for them to work again, or you might have to get rid of that guitar altogether. A sweater is better for preventing body dampening because it’s thicker also more of a barrier. But I would say that the risk associated with wearing a sweatered instrument is not worth the reward.
Items smaller than a t-shirt are likely to be less effective, and none of us want to waste our practice time trying to fish socks or washcloths into our guitars.
Practice Using a Feedback Dampener
If you want to reduce the feedback on your acoustic guitar, consider buying a noise suppressor for it. They are easy to locate and inexpensive. Guitars are loud, but these devices can reduce the volume of your instrument on stage by 40% or more. An added benefit is that they don’t just limit the decibels, but also improve sound quality. After all, your guitar is made to be played rather than listened to!
Acoustic guitar dampeners reduce the sound of the bass guitars. It’s those pesky bass notes that easily penetrated walls, so acoustic dampeners lower the value of your home.
Try Using an Acoustic Guitar Silencer
If you’re not satisfied with the acoustic volume of your practice sessions or late-night jams, try a guitar silencer for good measure.
Unlike a dampener, an acoustic guitar silencer works by muting the strings. The advantage is you’ll be able to practice your chords, progressions, and scales in near-absolute silence. The downside is those muting pedals can make it difficult for even the player himself to hear what he’s playing whenever he wants to.
If you want to keep your guitar in tune while practicing, try silencing the strings with a piece of foam or an acoustic guitar silencer. You want it to be placed between the body of your instrument and the bridges, butted up against them to form a tight seal.
Consider a Silent Travel Guitar
If you’ve ever wanted to know why anyone would buy an acoustic guitar, you’re not alone. But these odd looking guitars are becoming increasingly popular and that’s mostly because they’re so versatile and affordable.
The mini travel guitars are a perfect way to practice acoustic guitar in silence while on the go. They don’t take up too much room and they’re very compact, so they can be easily packed into a suitcase or tucked away in your backpack. Travel guitars are often called acoustic instruments, but don’t have a hollow body like regular acoustic guitars. Basically they produce about as much sound as an unplugged electric guitar because they don’t need to be plugged in.
Travel acoustic guitars come in nylon-string and steel-string, and it’s also possible to find them with an electric guitar. Read more about the silent acoustic guitar in this guide.
Practice Using Palm-Muting
Palm-muting is a technique used to deaden the natural sustain of an instrument, like Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love” or Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”. The effect it produces can be interesting, compelling sound and can also be used to practice your acoustic guitar quietly.
Palm muting is a useful skill to have, but you might practice more efficiently if you don’t have your guitar muted. It can still be beneficial to work on scales fret-hand techniques that should be a big part of any guitarist’s routine.
If your palm-muted acoustic guitar is too loud to practice without disturbing others, try positioning your thumb about 3/4 of the way towards the bridge. The closer that your palm is to the bridge, the less sound will be produced by the guitar.
Consider Your Practice Space
If you’ve tried the tips listed above, but your acoustic practice is still disturbing your loved ones or neighbors, maybe it isn’t how you’re practicing, but where. Take a good look around your practice area. Are there any bare wood or tile floors? Is the room full and furnished, or overall empty? Is it a large room, or on the smaller side?
Empty practice studio spaces with bare floors walls are not the ideal environment for practicing quietly. It’s best to use a larger monitor, powerful speakers and even headphones if possible.
Hanging blankets on the walls or even tiling can be a great way to make a practice space more soundproof. Be careful, though, because if you don’t put up proper soundproofing measures your room will continue to resonate. Soundproofing is an entirely different process that produces completely different results, as you would expect!
Practice Without a Guitar (No, Seriously)
So far, we’ve looked at several ways to practice the acoustic and electric guitar quietly. Having a guitar and someplace to practice makes it easy to pick up your instrument wherever you are, even in a public space.
The trick to pulling off this seemingly impossible feat is very simple: practicing without your guitar. Here are a few tips on how to turn downtime into practice time.
Run Through Your Fingerings
A great way to practice guitar without a guitar is to go through motions. Basically, go through the motions and imagine what your hand would feel like doing that one fingering or string playing. Playing a stringed instrument for long periods has been shown to change the brain enough that, after you’re dead, we can identify people as string-instrument players by their brain alone. Amazingly, this truth was revealed because of Einstein’s level of mastery over violin.
Repeating the same muscle movements will eventually help you to play your guitar with less conscious effort which is great for beginners.
For beginners, this means focusing on chord forms. Even if you only know 2 chords, practicing forming them in the air (or on a small block of wood) can be beneficial. Personally, I use my train-time to go through the fingerings for my go-to scales.
As I mentioned before, it can be beneficial to practice picking a guitar without one in hand. When you have time, however, I would recommend working on this when the time is right.
Perfect Your Pitch
Every guitarist can improve by learning to discern the pitch of a note. Even if you don’t reach perfect pitch, you will still benefit from it.
Guitarists can use tones to organize music they’ve recorded, play by ear and make complex harmonies. The ability to distinguish between tones based on various distance intervals helps you be more creative in trade.
Pitch-perfection is often best achieved the traditional way, with a piano and lessons from an instructor. For a more portable method, you can learn about your pitch on apps and websites that are designed to help you improve. Using headphones, you can try to identify notes and the intervals between them in a game-like format.
Work on Your Finger and Grip Strength
Playing guitar requires finger grip strength and for anyone new to the instrument, it might be a good idea to buy a guitar trainer grip during their initial stages. This will ensure your fingers are ready for three-song medleys at all times. The options are inexpensive and available online.
I’ve made grip and finger training a regular part of my practice. They’re silent, and can be used just about anywhere. Finger trainers are available at your local guitar store or online dealer and so too can grip trainers, which can be purchased anywhere exercise equipment is sold.
So, there you have it, a complete guide to practicing your guitar without losing friends and alienating people. Remember that now it’s time to practice !!!
FAQ for How to Practice Guitar Quietly
How can I practice guitar without disturbing others?
There are a few ways to practice without disturbing others. One way is to use headphones. Another way is to use an amplifier that can be plugged into any speaker. Third way is to use a guitar tuner, which can be plugged into any speaker or headphone jack on the guitar.
What are benefits to practicing guitar quiet?
Quiet practice is an important part of the guitar playing process. It can help you to improve your skills, build a habit, and develop concentration.
Benefits to practicing guitar quiet:
- Develops concentration
- Builds a habit
- Improves your skills
Is it important to practice guitar quiet?
A well-known musician once said that practice makes perfect. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s important to practice in a quiet environment because you want to avoid distractions and focus on your work.
What types of noise can occur when playing guitar?
Playing guitar is a great way to express your creativity and emotions. But it can also lead to some noise.
Noise in the music industry can be caused by a number of factors such as poorly tuned guitars, poorly recorded tracks, and limited knowledge of how to play guitar.
This is because the musician does not have complete control over the music production process.
Should I use headphones when practicing guitar?
This is a question that many guitar players ask themselves. It can be confusing because the answer depends on your personal preference.
The best answer for you would be to try both and see what works best for you.