So you just got a guitar and are ready to jam? But you’re worried that the people around you won’t be entertained by your first steps as a musician.
Or perhaps you just moved into a new apartment and the rules concerning noise are more strict than they were in the past? Either way, you need to practice your guitar without them hearing the noise.
You have two major options. First option is to change your environment by moving to a different room or soundproofing your practice room. The second option depends on the type of guitar you have. For acoustic guitars you can use a very light touch so that it produces less noise. Or you can muffle it. Or you can purchase a silent guitar or a small pocket guitar for practice (more on that later). If you have an electric guitar, simply play it without an amplifier and with headphones on.
Those are just some popular quiet guitar practice methods. Keep reading for all the right information:
1. Practice with a silent guitar and headphones
A silent guitar can be used for silent practice. It has a solid or chambered body.
It doesn’t amplify the vibration of the string into audible sound. Instead, it converts the vibrations into electric current with a piezoeletric pickup.
In other words, it creates the same output volume as electric guitars when not plugged in. So it’s used for silent practice with headphones.
With a silent guitar you couldn’t possibly disturb anyone, even if they were in the same room. Which is why these models are often used in classrooms, as each student can practice using headphones without disturbing the other students.
I’ve personally practiced with a silent guitar for a long time because my landlord didn’t tolerate the noise. I used a Yamaha silent guitar and Sony’s large diaphragm headphones and I loved this setup. I gave them both to my nephew for his 15th birthday. I’m happy to say that a year later we have two solid musicians in the Baron family!
Alternatively, you can purchase an electric guitar and play it with headphones, without an amplifier. Those Sony headphones are great for electric guitars as well.
2. Muffle the sound of your acoustic guitar
To practice an acoustic guitar in full capacity, you’ll need to use enough pressure on the strings. But this will lead to a ton of noise. Instead of lightly touching the strings which won’t be enough in the long run, muffle the sound by using one or more of these methods:
- Put a piece of cloth or a t-shirt inside the body of the guitar. This will dampen the sound.
- Weave cloth between the strings by the bridge to mute it.
- Play with your picking hand’s palm touching the strings (your right palm, if you’re right handed). This is a technique known as palm muting.
- Place a small kitchen sponge between the strings and the body to dampen the sound. This is similar to using the palm technique but you may like it better. You can also use a thick sock or wedge a paper towel and place it in-between.
- Loosely tіе а ѕоft mаtеrіаl like a sock аrоund thе nесk оf thе guіtаr. This will produce what ѕоundѕ lіkе dеаd nоtеѕ.
I reluctantly share some of these methods because they can lead to bad technique habits if you practice with them for too long. I recommend switching to more professional options on this list when you can afford them, rather than permanently changing your practice to accommodate the low volume requirements of your environment.
3. Use a feedback buster (soundhole cover/plug)
Plugging the sound-hole with acoustic soundhole cover can definitely help. By covering the hole, you can dampen the noise without having to stuff any t-shirts inside the body.
This is a method that’s used by many professional guitar players on stage to fight feedback, and the sound dampening effect is noticeable as well.
4. Use a no-body pocket guitar for practice
Instead of using your large guitar, you can use a small pocket guitar that has 6 strings and no body. Since it has no body it produces very little noise.
It can be used to effectively learn chords and strumming patterns without disturbing anyone. Since it’s small and portable, you can carry it around in your backpack and practice when you’re away from home.
Pocket guitars are very affordable, usually costing less than $50.
5. How to play more quietly
- Use fingers instead of a pick or fingernails. This may require some practice.
- Use quiet nylon picks. These generate less volume than regular ones and if you love using picks these are great for practice.
- Plug in your headphones.
- Use the palm technique mentioned earlier, where you use the side of your hand to mute the sound.
- Extra light gauge strings are quieter than heavy strings. They produce less vibrations and resonance on the soundboard. They’re also easier on the fingers so they’re more beginner-friendly as well.
6. Find a guitar-friendly practice room
Instead of changing your technique or using a different instrument, consider changing your practice room.
Is there a place in your home or nearby where you can practice without disturbing anyone? Perhaps the garage or the basement? Perhaps a closet?
You can also build a practice booth inside the room with some cheap materials like moving blankets which can muffle the sound.
7. Soundproof your practice room
You can stop any sound from travelling through the walls, ceiling, floor, doors or windows by installing soundproofing materials on these areas.
This is pretty easy to do for guitar noise, because it’s airborne noise. In other words, it travels through air instead of resonating on a surface like drums or a washing machine.
Once you’ve soundproofed the room, no one will be able to hear you practice or do anything else. You’ll have complete privacy!
Here’s my simple room soundproofing guide with practical DIY tips that everyone can use, even if you’re not a handyman by nature.