Guitars are fantastic instruments! No other instrument is as versatile, as interesting, or as capable as the guitar, which means that it requires significant skill and many hours of practice to master. However, playing guitar in an apartment can be challenging, as this instrument can be loud and disturb neighbors or roommates. Let’s learn how to make your guitar as quiet as possible without losing functionality.
All guitars can be loud, especially when amplified. The best way to make a guitar quiet is to use headphones for electric guitars and use dampeners or silencers for acoustic guitars. These methods will reduce the volume of the guitar without reducing any playability.
Every guitarist has to be aware of their surroundings before playing at loud volumes, but sometimes playing loud is necessary to learn specific techniques or styles. Is there a way to make a guitar as quiet as possible, playing and practicing in an apartment, allowing a guitarist to play whatever they need to without disturbing anyone? Yes! Let’s explore how to make guitars less loud in apartments.
Are Guitars Loud?
The guitar is among the most versatile instruments in the world, but this instrument also comes in multiple variations. There are several types of guitar, and each of them sounds very different, and they each operate at differing volume levels as well.
If you are a guitarist and you are looking for the quietest guitar type to play and practice on in your apartment, or if you are a beginner looking to buy your first guitar and trying to determine which is the quietest type for your apartment, it is important to understand how loud each type of guitar is.
Once we determine how loud each type of guitar is, we can then take the appropriate steps to make the instrument quieter for playing in an apartment without hindering the use of the instrument in any way.
Let’s explore the volume levels of the three most important types of guitars: the electric guitar, the steel-string acoustic guitar, and the classical acoustic guitar.
How Loud Are Electric Guitars?
Electric guitars are interesting when discussing how loud they can be and how to make them quieter. These instruments can be the quietest of all guitars, and they can also be the loudest type of guitar, depending on how it is used.
The truth is that when an electric guitar is unplugged and played without any form of amplification, it is so quiet that it is very unlike to disturb your neighbors or roommates at all, even if you live in a tiny apartment.
This means that if you are working on techniques or playing styles that do not require any specific sounds to achieve, then playing an unplugged electric guitar is the best option.
However, the trouble comes when you want to amplify the sound of the instrument. Electric guitars are designed to be used with amplifiers and effects, which can make them the loudest of all guitar types.
Depending on the size, power, and output of an amplifier, an electric guitar can be shockingly loud. Even with a very small amplifier, an electric guitar can be too loud for an apartment.
Certain effects such as fuzz, distortion, and overdrive make electric guitar particularly loud and can be very offensive for neighbors and roommates.
The electric guitar has the potential to be the loudest of all guitars, and the volume levels of this type of instrument must be carefully managed to not disturb neighbors or roommates unless it is played while unplugged.
How Loud Are Acoustic Guitars?
Steel-string acoustic guitars are the second loudest of guitar types. These instruments are quite large, the body of the instrument is designed to amplify the sound of the strings, and they resonate enough to produce a very loud sound if they are played hard enough.
Acoustic guitars cannot be turned down, as they naturally produce an acoustic sound simply by playing the instrument. Some acoustic guitars can be plugged into amplifiers as well, making them significantly louder.
These string instruments can be played quietly if they are played gently, but there are certain techniques and playing methods that require them to be played loudly to achieve.
Keeping a steel-string acoustic guitar quiet is a challenge, but overall, it is not as loud as an amplified electric guitar, so long as it is played acoustically without an amplifier.
How Loud Are Classical Guitars?
Classical acoustic guitars are among the most beautiful and sweet-sounding guitars of any variety, and they are also the quietest standard guitar type.
This type of acoustic guitar uses nylon strings that have a much lower tension than standard steel-string acoustic guitar strings and therefore resonate less and produce a softer sound.
These strings are the reason why classical guitars are as quiet as they are, but if this type of guitar is played with force, it can be loud as well. It is, after all, an acoustic guitar that amplifies itself when played, which means that it has the potential to be loud depending on how hard it is played.
Most classical guitar techniques are relatively quiet, but the instrument can be loud in some circumstances. These guitars are the best option for those who just need something to practice on without an amplifier, but they will still need to be softened in some way for playing and practicing guitar in a small apartment.
How To Make Guitar Quiet For An Apartment
Now that we have explored the various standard types of standard guitars and how loud they are, it is important to learn how to make each type of guitar as quiet as possible for playing and practicing in an apartment environment, to not disturb anyone in the near vicinity.
Making a guitar quiet is not difficult, but what is challenging is making a guitar sound as quiet as possible without making the instrument more difficult to play while still retaining all of the qualities that make the guitar fun to play.
Making a guitar sound quiet is useless if it is not playable at all. A guitar must be made silent while still maintaining full functionality and while still enabling the guitarist to practice every technique with every type of sound that they want to use.
Practicing the instrument to its full potential is the only way to unlock guitar mastery, so let’s learn how to keep each type of guitar as functional as possible while making it as quiet as possible.
How To Make Electric Guitars Quiet
The simplest way to make an electric guitar very quiet is to unplug it and play without an amplifier. Most of the practicing that can be done on an electric guitar regarding techniques and exercises can be done while unplugged.
An unplugged electric guitar is so quiet that it will never cause a noise problem, even in the smallest apartment.
However, electric guitars are designed to be used with various sounds and effects that can only be achieved when the instrument is amplified. Unlocking the electric guitar’s full potential can only be done by plugging it into an amplifier of some kind.
In this instance, the best way to make an electric guitar as quiet as possible while still allowing the guitarist to use any sounds, effects, and features as they want is to use headphones.
Plugging a set of headphones into an amplifier’s headphone connection will send the sound through the headphones only while still providing the full functionality of the amplifier. This means that only the person playing the guitar will hear it, and outside the headphones, the electric guitar sound as if it is unplugged, making it very quiet.
This is the best way to play any guitar in a small apartment without causing any noise disturbances whatsoever.
If you do not want to use a guitar amplifier in this way, there are devices that allow a guitarist to plug their electric guitar into their computer to use digital effects that way, or directly into a set of headphones via a headphone amplifier that will have the same benefits as using a standard amplifier with a headphone connection.
There is no quieter guitar than an unamplified electric guitar, and using headphones retains this quietness for everyone else, while the guitarist can still hear the full sound of their amplified guitar in their headphones.
How To Make Acoustic Guitars Quiet
Making an electric guitar quieter is simple. These guitars can be very loud, and they can be very quiet because they require an amplifier to make a sound.
However, acoustic guitars make a sound all on their own, without the need for any amplification at all. This makes reducing the volume of an acoustic guitar very challenging, especially a steel-string acoustic guitar.
The simplest way to make an acoustic guitar quieter is to pay softly. Playing with fingers rather than with a plectrum makes the instrument quieter, and plucking or strumming the strings gently will not cause them to vibrate much, thus keeping the volume down as well.
This method, however, is not very practical, and it is very limiting. Without being able to play properly, a guitarist will develop poor playing skills, and progressing in the skill will become almost impossible.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to soften the sound of an acoustic guitar, reducing the acoustic sound that it makes.
The only way to lower the natural volume of an acoustic guitar is to use a device known as a ‘damper’ or a ‘dampener.’
This device is a small disk with a protrusion that fits inside the sound hole of an acoustic guitar and blocks the hole completely. By obstructing the sound hole of the guitar, the sound of the strings is not amplified acoustically.
There is still some amplification by the resonance of the guitar’s body, but the volume of the instrument is significantly reduced.
Using a damper is the best way to make an acoustic guitar sound as quiet as possible while still retaining all of the instrument’s playability.
If using a damper is still not reducing the sound of your guitar enough for playing and practicing in your apartment, there are some other things that you can do to keep the sound of the instrument from causing a disturbance.
To further dampen an acoustic guitar, you can try to push a t-shirt or a small blanket into the body of the instrument. Foam, cushion stuffing, or a bed sheet will work well here too. Using this method of deadening the instrument along with a dampener is a great way to significantly reduce the volume of the instrument.
How To Make Classical Guitars Quiet
Classical guitars are already the quietest of all standard guitar types, but they can still be too loud for use in small apartments. Classical acoustic guitars can be made quieter in the same ways that steel-string acoustic guitars can.
Playing quietly will produce a quieter sound than otherwise, and keeping to finger-style techniques can keep the volume down as well.
Using a damper for this type of acoustic guitar is also very effective and is still an excellent way to reduce the volume of the instrument without impeding its playability at all. Dampers are even more effective on classical guitars than on steel-string acoustic guitars, as the nylon strings on these guitars cause less resonance, keeping the instrument as quiet as possible.
Are There Any Other Ways To Make A Guitar Quieter?
If you have tried the methods above for reducing the volume of your guitars when playing in your apartment and your guitars still sound too loud, or if they still bother the other occupants of the building, then it may be time to explore more universal methods for reducing volume.
The only step left after quietening your guitars is to build up a minor amount of sound-proofing within your apartment, especially the room where you play your guitars.
Using some basic sound-proofing techniques such as hanging thick curtains on the inside of the walls of the room, carpeting the room, plugging up any holes or gaps that exit the room with foam, placing acoustic panels on the walls, or installing foam bass-taps in the corners of the room can significantly reduce the noise levels that leave your practice space.
Some basic sound-proofing will go a very long way to prevent disturbing the other occupants of the building with your guitars, regardless of what type of guitar you play.
At the end of it, every guitar will make some level of noise. It is possible to reduce the volume of all types of guitars, but the best option for playing guitar in an apartment is to use an electric guitar with headphones.
Using this method will allow you to practice every technique you need with the sounds that you want to use, keeping your practice fun and enjoyable without disturbing anyone around you!