Guitars and amps go hand in hand.
The amp serves as a power source for the guitar, providing musicians with lots of possibilities.
But sometimes, getting an amp is not an option.
They are expensive and not as practical as a guitar.
So, even if you have no amp, you still may want to play with your guitar.
What do you do in such circumstances? Will you be able to hear what you are playing?
Will the unplugged guitar be loud enough?
Electric guitars without amps sound weak and not loud enough. Their tone is dull and lacks the necessary strength to be heard by many people. However, in a rather silent environment, you will be able to hear what you are playing clearly.
There’s more information on this topic below.
Keep reading and find out how much you can expect from an unplugged electric guitar.
Do unplugged electric guitars make any sound at all?
Imagine you buy your first electric guitar. You are so excited to play with it.
However, you still got some doubts about whether you’ll hear what you are playing or not.
After all, you couldn’t afford an amp or speaker.
Will your unplugged guitar produce sounds?
The good news is, it will!
However, it will not have the loudness and strength that a plugged guitar has. But after all, who cares?
All you wanna do is play and enjoy, don’t you? You’ll get both, I assure you.
At least until you get your hands on your first amp.
Electric guitars have varying acoustic volumes. Depending on the body, it will produce either more or less sound.
For example, a guitar with a solid body will be rather noiseless.
On the contrary, a semi-hollow guitar generates louder sounds since the soundhole amplifies tone and vibration.
Better still, is a hollow electric guitar. Those are the loudest when being played unplugged.
How loud is an electric guitar without an amp?
An unplugged electric guitar usually sounds as loud as a conversation or even less.
Therefore, we estimate that their decibels levels are between 50 and 60. Consider that a whisper reaches 30 dB.
Also, compare it to other instruments.
An acoustic guitar reaches 80 decibels. And in most cases, an amp with a plugged electric guitar will be around 115 decibels when played loud.
Sometimes, if the amp’s fully distorted and you stand next to it, it will reach 135 dB.
To sum up, when playing an unplugged electric guitar, you’ll be able to hear it. However, someone standing some feet away from you, or in another room, will not.
Can you play the electric guitar without an amp?
It is possible to play electric guitars without an amp.
After all, many people acquire a guitar first and only then, buy their first amplifier.
While you can practice with it in your bedroom, it will feel as you are needing something more.
Sure enough, what you need is some noise!
That’s the main downward with electric guitars. They demand a PA system or amplifier to sound good and satisfactory.
Otherwise, they create a dull tone.
Thankfully in the modern age, there are alternatives that allow you to use your computer or even your phone as a digital amp and give you a great sound to practice.
How does an unplugged electric guitar sound?
As mentioned before, an unplugged guitar sounds dull.
But dull is a rather weak word to describe its tone.
The most appropriate word to describe it accordingly has to be lifeless.
After all, playing unplugged guitars makes one yearn for more.
Something is missing, and that something is the power and vitality that the amp provides.
A strummed chord in an unplugged electric guitar will strike out relatively okay at the beginning. That is to say, relatively okay for the player exclusively.
But immediately after that, the weak tone becomes even weaker and dies out all of a sudden.
It’s worth mentioning, this tends to be the case with solid body guitars. Once again, electric guitars with hollowed bodies sound much better.
Here’s a video with a guitarist showing his different guitars. He plays all of them unplugged.
Notice the difference in sound, and how his hollow guitar sounds stronger.
Could an unplugged electric guitar be quiet enough to practice at night?
Playing with your unplugged guitar can help practice without bothering the rest.
In other words, the guitar sound’s so low you can’t be heard by the rest of your family.
If you are locked in your room with the doors closed, then no one outside will hear what you are playing.
Just bear in mind, if the house is too small and quiet, then maybe you’ll be heard.
Also, strumming too hard will make it even louder.
Is it a good idea to practice the electric guitar unplugged?
There are two things to consider regarding this idea.
Let’s begin with the first one.
Practicing this way is great for overall improvement.
You can gain finger dexterity, learn how to position your fingers for each main chord, get used to barre chords, etc.
You can learn about techniques, and, little by little, gain more agility in your hands so you can play faster.
Also, you’ll be developing muscle memory, which is key for playing music.
The other side to the story is, amps are important for your development as a musician.
First of all, playing with an amp means you can hear the notes better.
You must hear yourself properly to improve and sharpen your ear.
Secondly, with an amp, you can figure out your style.
Think about it. Experimenting with the settings is the only way to find the style that suits you better.
Toying with the levels of gain, bass, volume, and master leads to self-discovery.
It’s impossible to do that with an unplugged instrument.
The world of music is vast. Possibilities are almost endless.
Luckily, there is no one way to approach your guitar.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t have different marks and models.
There wouldn’t be effect pedals, slides, or differentiation between acoustics and electrics.
Thankfully, they exist. And, in the long run, they make for a richer experience.
Playing an unplugged electric guitar may not be the richest of the experiences out there.
Although if it’s the only one you can get, then go with it to the end.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.