Playing at home is a comfortable experience.
Just plug in the guitar to the amp, turn it on, lay back on your bed or sofa, and enjoy the present moment.
That is, until your mother knocks on the door, complaining about your loud guitar chords and solos.
Indeed, playing loud is a beautiful experience, but it cannot be implemented anytime, anywhere.
So, what’s the most appropriate form in which you can play with loud guitar amps at home without bothering other people?
Well, there is more than one solution to this problem.
Among the best tips to play loud guitar amps at home, we find using headphones or attenuators. If possible, it’s best to create a DIY soundproofing rehearsal room or play with a smaller amplifier.
These are just a handful of tips. We have found 7 in total for you to practice loud and safely.
Let’s find out which one you’ll implement.
Is it actually possible to play a loud guitar amp at home?
We know you’re dying to boost that guitar amp to 10. Hell, you would even turn it to 11 if you could, as in Spinal Tap.
Naturally, you may push your amp to the limit in a rehearsal room or during a live show. But what happens if you want to do it at home?
Unfortunately, it’s not a possible case scenario for everyone.
Whether you like it or not, you must be respectful to your neighbors (hey, even those who deserve to be woken up at 5 AM with your loud guitar sound). After all, loud guitar amps are quite noisy, and they can clearly be heard next door.
Not to mention, constantly playing loud could bring you some legal trouble.
All of that should be taken into account if you live in a crowded neighborhood. However, there are certain situations in which you may play loud without bothering others.
First of all, you should either live alone or with people who can stand loud guitar sounds regularly.
Second, you need to live in an area with little to no neighbors.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that you might be able to play loud, even if you live with people nearby.
All you have to do is balance your sound. Play loud, but not too loud.
In other words, find a level that is suitable to you, but that doesn’t interfere with someone else’s life.
You can do that, or better still, apply these 7 tips we’ll mention below.
Is it safe to play a loud guitar amp at home?
If you weren’t convinced by the main topics discussed in the previous section, then you’ll be after reading the following: loudness damages your hearing.
There are no surprises here. However, it was worth pointing it out.
Playing too loud at home for extended periods of time could permanently harm your ears.
Another ear-damaging-related issue caused by loud guitar amps is tinnitus. This is a condition characterized by regular buzzing and humming in the ears.
Of course, this problem won’t occur just by playing loud at home. It could happen anywhere: rehearsing rooms; live performances; studio recordings (although this last one could be the least likely of them all).
So, the best way to avoid future regrets is by wearing headphones that protect your ears.
Other than that, there are no threats to playing a loud guitar amplifier at home.
How many watts is considered loud for an amp?
It’s advisable to play at 20W if you have a solid-state amp. On the contrary, a valve amp should be at 10W approximately.
Bear in mind that these numbers are measured for home practice.
If you want to play loud, then you would need a bit more. Maybe 25-30W for solid-state amplifiers, and 15W for tube amps.
Numbers drastically change when the amp is being played at a gig.
For solid-state amps, it’s recommended to set them at 40 watts if there is no drummer and there are 100 people approximately. For tube amps under the same conditions, 20W should be fine.
Things change if there’s a drummer playing simultaneously. Solid-state amps at 100 watts, and tube amps at 50 watts.
Lastly, we need to consider the proper levels for performances with 1000 people or more.
The numbers are 200W with a solid-state amplifier, and 100W with a valve amp.
Just make the comparison between the number of watts recommended for playing at home, with the ones for playing at gigs.
It’s quite a contrast. So, we encourage you to watch your ears and play at 20 or 10 watts (even less) whenever you’re at home.
7 tips for playing a loud amp at home
Let me guess. Despite all the warnings we provided in this article, you still want to play loud at home.
We like your rebellious attitude! But please, don’t just turn everything up and play as if you were to die tomorrow.
Instead, follow these 7 tips:
1. Wear headphones
In a previous section, we encouraged you to wear headphones to avoid hurting your ears long-term.
Of course, you could do the complete opposite, and wear headphones to lead the loud sound of the amp directly into your ears!
Needless to say, this must be done with extreme care. Once again, play loud, but not too loud.
After all, headphones allow hearing your guitar sound better while simultaneously blocking external noises. Overall, this provides a greater understanding of your music, without needing to set the amp extremely loud.
2. Soundproof the garage
You weren’t expecting this one, were you?
It’s not strange to find young musicians rehearsing in their home garages. These have plenty of room to place the gear and instruments, and to move around; and of course, it’s a great area to hear everything loud and clear enough.
Unfortunately, this won’t prevent your neighbors from complaining to the police officers.
The solution is simple: soundproof the garage.
Although this activity is a bit time-consuming, it’s rather easy to implement. Not to mention, it’s worth the investment if you’re planning to rehearse long-term.
For this, you must cover the windows with acoustic plugs, soundproof curtains, window blankets, or even by bricking them.
Then, focus on the garage door. Insulate it with some blankets or soundproof curtains too.
Don’t worry, these can be easily removed.
Lastly, apply the same method to the walls and ceilings. Acoustic blankets, sheets, foam panels, anything!
Oh, right! And let’s not forget about the floor!
Vibrations need to be absorbed, and what better thing to absorb noise than a huge carpet?
Have fun experimenting with these methods. Ask for your bandmates to help you, have a couple of beers, and enjoy the process.
3. Play at specific hours of a day
This one might be a bit obvious, but it’s worth mentioning anyway.
Try to play at certain hours of the day. To be more precise, avoid playing too early in the morning, or too late in the evening.
Nobody wants to wake up at the riff of Megadeth’s She-Wolf at 06:00 in the morning, just as no one could go to bed and have sweet dreams if the riff of Cowboys from Hell is blasting through their neighbor’s garage.
So, there has to be a specific time of the day when you can play freely without bothering someone else, right?
Well, this varies according to the place you are living in. If you’re staying at an apartment complex, then this will be impossible.
On the contrary, for those guitarists that live in the suburbs, then you might find the perfect time to play loud and not be a nuisance.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of trial and error.
4. Use an attenuator
Attenuators are devices that let one crank the volume of the amp up without causing significant damage to the speaker or ears.
An attenuator lets you get all of the amp’s tone at a reduced level, without decreasing its quality.
They function by being a middleman between the amp and the speakers by mimicking a full speaker load.
Come to think about it, this option is even more simple than building a sound-proof garage, don’t you think?
5. Do you really need that much volume?
It seems stupid, but something as trivial as getting used to playing at a lower volume can be more than enough.
To be more precise, we’re recommending you play at a relatively low level at first, then crank it up a bit, without exceeding it too much.
6. Soundproof wooden box
Picture the soundproof garage we talked about before.
Now, make it smaller… way smaller.
The result is a sound-proof wooden box that is a bit larger than your guitar amp. Just place the amp within the cabinet and you’ll be able to play loud without causing too much of an issue to your roommates or neighbors.
The process involves connecting microphones to an external audio device, and much more.
We recommend you check this video out to understand how to set everything properly.
7. Work with a smaller amp
A smaller guitar amp is great for getting distorted sounds at lower volumes.
Not to mention, you can take it whenever you want! So, if your neighbor’s room is next to yours, then maybe taking the amp to the kitchen could be a great idea.
Do loud amps sound bad when played at low volumes?
When we talk about loud amps, the first thing that comes to our minds is the tube amps.
These pieces of gear are designed to be played at high volumes. However, what happens if you decide to do the contrary?
Well, most tube amps won’t reach the desired or expected outcome if the volume is relatively low.
Consider that this is not the same as saying that tube amps won’t sound good. We’re just saying that it won’t sound as powerful as it would sound if the volume was cracked up.
Something similar occurs with solid-state amps.
We highly encourage you to check this article covering all the information regarding this topic.
Now, go back to your guitar amp, implement these 7 tips, and play until you tire yourself to the bone.
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.