If you are a guitar enthusiast, the guitar’s sound entertains you. However, it may sound irritating to neighbors.
It might be challenging to play your electric guitar when staying in an apartment since you do not want to disturb your neighbors. It is harder to practice at night when everyone else is asleep. If you love playing your electric guitar, you might wonder if it is too loud or if your neighbors can hear it.
Electric guitars are not too loud to play in an apartment. Though neighbors can hear the sounds, the noise level depends on how you’ve amplified the guitar. You can reduce the volume and enjoy your guitar without disturbing the neighbors when using an amplifier.
If you keep reading this article, you will discover various alternatives to keep the sounds low without compromising your entertainment. This article will also answer most questions you might have related to playing guitar in your apartment.
Why Playing Electric Guitars Might Be Challenging in Apartments
Electric guitars can be plugged into an amplifier to produce great sound for concerts and events. However, playing the electric guitars in an apartment can be challenging due to the following factors:
- Thin walls:
Many apartments do not have thick walls that can insulate sound from one room to another. Therefore, when you play your electric guitar at high volumes, the sound will travel through the walls.
- Noise restrictions:
Most apartments have regulations to maintain a quiet environment for all tenants. The most limited time is at night when most tenants are at home and looking to get a good night’s sleep. It is challenging to hit your electric guitar at high volumes, especially at night with such restrictions.
- The Amplifier’s power:
When you connect the guitar to the amp, it increases the sound’s power and allows you to add effects. The amplified sound can travel through floors and walls made of concrete, wood, or other materials. With such sound effects and loudness, your neighbors below or above can hear the sounds of your electric guitar.
- Space and proximity between rooms:
Apartments minimize space to ensure they fit many house units. Therefore, the houses and doors are close to each other. When you play your guitar and the amplifier or speakers are close to your door, the sounds will travel outside your apartment.
Having learned why playing electric guitar in apartments can be challenging, you now need to know how you play it silently. You don’t have to forfeit your talent because of the challenges. Keep reading to discover how to keep playing your electric guitar without hearing any complaints.
Is an Electric Guitar Too Loud When Plugged in?
An acoustic guitar is designed with heavy strings, a thick neck, and a heavier body than an electric guitar and therefore is loud without the need for an amp. However, the electric guitar has a slimmer body with light strings and a thin neck. Therefore, it is only loud if its sound is amplified by an amp.
The noise level of your electric guitar will depend on which amp you use and the volume level you have set. Play your guitar at a lower volume using the perfect settings and set up to minimize noise pollution in the apartment.
Will an Unplugged Electric Guitar Be Too Loud?
Though electric guitars produce the best sound quality when plugged in, you can unplug them to reduce noise levels. However, unplugged electric guitars have poor sound quality since manufacturers design them to produce quality sounds when using an amp.
Therefore, they don’t have a hollow body that produces loud music even without being amplified. This design makes it perfect for you to practice your electric guitars at all times, including at night, without causing disturbance to people living next door.
Though an unplugged electric guitar is quiet, your neighbors can still hear it at night if the houses are close. Additionally, semi-hollow electric guitars vibrate and produce loud acoustic sounds which may not be ideal for apartments.
What Determines the Loudness of the Electric Guitar?
In most cases, the size of the guitar will determine the sound level it produces. However, in electric guitars, the size may not affect how loud or quiet the guitar is since the sound is amplified. The amplifier has a preamp and speaker to interpret and produce sound from the electric guitar.
The preamp receives signals from the guitar’s pickup and boosts (amplifies) it to become 20-50 times stronger. After the amplification, the output transistor adds currents to the signals and sends them to the inbuilt or output speaker. Therefore, the amplifiers play a significant role in how loud or soft your guitar will sound.
One of the main factors that determine the volume level of your electric guitar is how hard or soft you hit the strings. If you are playing the guitar in your apartment, you can use your fingertips to strum the strings and reduce noise. If you use a thumb-pick to hit the strings hard, the guitar will vibrate more and sound louder, which may disturb neighbors.
Some electric guitars come with a hollow body that resembles acoustic guitars. However, they have less space inside and do not produce as high sound and vibration as acoustic guitars. These guitars are ideal for late-night practice as they are louder when unplugged.
Best Amplifier Electric Guitar For Apartment
Wattages measure the power of an amplifier. The higher the wattage, the more powerful the amp is, thus producing a louder sound. Depending on your needs, you can choose an amplifier with a wattage ranging from 5 to 200. If you want to host a huge event, go for the 200-watt amplifier since it will be the loudest.
When looking for an amplifier to use in your apartment, you should go for those with low watts to avoid making noise. A 5–20-watt amplifier will have enough power to boost your electric guitar without distracting neighbors. When practicing, you will hear the sound clearly, and the sound won’t go out of the room if you don’t crank it high.
If you are looking for a reliable amplifier in your apartment, you can go for the Marshall DSL5CR with 5 watts. This amp is enough to amplify the sound signals from your electric guitar so that you can hear them clearly without causing disturbance to your neighbors. However, it is not ideal for live shows or gigs since it has low power and volume.
How Can You Play Electric Guitar Without Disturbing Your Neighbors?
Most apartments have noise restriction policies between 10 pm to 7 am to promote a conducive and quiet environment for resting. Generally, you should not exceed 50 decibels after 10 am hits to avoid noise pollution. If you want to extend the fun, you can use the following hacks and techniques without causing disturbance:
- Raise Your Amplifier
When you put your amplifier on the floor, it spreads the vibrations to the walls, which causes a nuisance to neighbors. Raise your amplifier off the ground and place it on a stand or stool to prevent these vibrations. Alternatively, you can insulate the noise by placing a floor mat or rug below the amplifier. To further dampen the noise, place a carpet/thick rug in one of the rooms and always play your guitar in the room. The carpet/rug reduces vibrations passing through the floor.
- Understand the Apartment’s Noise Policy
Ensure you understand the noise policies that your landlord has imposed on the apartments. If there are restricted hours, ensure you refrain from playing your guitars at those hours. You can enjoy yourself to the brim during open hours without worrying that your neighbors might complain. It is also advisable to play your guitar in the furthest room from the main door to contain the sound in your apartment. You can shut your main door and the door to your practice room to further insulate the sound.
- Use Headphones
Rather than using an amplifier with loud volume, consider using headphones. Some traditional amplifiers have an output port that you can use to plug in your headphones. Once the headphones are connected, the output port will transfer the sound from the amp to your headphones. If you don’t have amp-specific headphones, you can purchase an amp headphone adapter. With this adapter, you can use your headphones to connect to the amplifier. However, some headphones might reduce the sound quality when you turn up the volume and distortion. To play your electric guitar without compromising sound quality, go for noise-canceling headphones such as Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones (Check on Amazon).
- Use USB Audio Interface
Nowadays, guitarists don’t have to use loud traditional amps when playing their electric guitars. You can opt for a digital USB audio interface that converts sounds from your electric guitar to digital sound that your computer will process. The interface constitutes computer software that resembles and functions as an amp. For instance, you can use the digital interface to adjust the volume and sound settings like a typical amplifier. Some of the USB audio interfaces you can buy include Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd (See Price on Amazon) Generation or Apogee Jam Plus. You can use the audio interface to record the instrumental sounds directly into your computer.
After your computer processes the sound, you can choose which channel to use for listening. You can listen through computer speakers, headphones, wireless earbuds/Bluetooth headphones, or your home audio system. Since the digital interface is portable, has a lower sound output, and has excellent volume controls, it is ideal for an apartment.
Soundproof Your Room
If you have a dedicated room for your instruments, you can soundproof it to reduce the sound from the amplifier or speakers when you are playing. You can perform the following to soundproof your guitar room:
- Seal the sound leaks:
A sound escapes your guitar room through an air gap. You can seal most of these leaks and leave some for ventilation. In most cases, the door is the leading sound leaking in your room. You can fill your door using a weather sealing kit or draft excluder. Additionally, you can buy a soundproof curtain to reduce window sound leaks.
- Reinforce the doors:
Most apartments use hollow interior doors, which are poor soundproof. You can reinforce the door using acoustic foam panels or budget-friendly medium-density hardboards.
- Soundproof the walls:
Though soundproofing the walls can require a professional and be costly, you can do it yourself and lower the cost. If you don’t have enough funds to soundproof the whole room, you can soundproof the shared walls. You can buy and install acoustic panels that soundproof and beautify your room.
- Soundproof the floor:
Sound vibrations can pass through the floor and into your neighbor’s house. You can place an entire room carpet or thick rugs underneath the amp to reduce sound traveling through the floor to prevent this. The most effective method is to invest in a soundproof rug like Felt and Rubber Rug Pad (Amazon) to prevent sound from passing through the floor.
Since soundproofing is expensive, focus on your practice room or whichever room you play guitars in to reduce noise. Soundproofing about 50% of your room is enough to give you the freedom to jam without worrying about complaints.
Use a Headphone Amplifier
Headphone amplifiers are unique devices that allow you to connect headphones to your guitar directly without using an amplifier or audio interface. However, they are less customizable and do not have as many controls as amplifiers.
Playing Guitar in Apartment
Playing guitar in your apartment does not have to be challenging. You can enjoy your electric guitar in the apartment without worrying about your neighbors or landlord complaints by using the methods in this article. Remember to have fun as you strike the strings.