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I am a total noob to guitar (nay, music) in my adult years. I find that I play a lot at night when the rest of the house wants to sleep or at the very least not hear my terrible guitar playing. I play acoustic guitar.

The solution to this problem is an electro-acoustic guitar that has very low output out of the sound hole but normal output on the electro-end. I can then link this to headphones and can make as much noise as I like. I have been Googling away and either this type of guitar doesn't exist or I'm Googling for the wrong terms...

Does this type of guitar exist? If not, why not?

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An acoustic guitar will usually be designed to be loud and project well acoustically, as that's almost always what is wanted from an instrument in a performance situation. Why not just play a normal electric guitar in situations where you need to be quiet? – topo morto Feb 12 at 12:07
    
Not really an answer but apart from playing electric without plugging it in so its quieter you can buy something like vox amplug. – Sok Pomaranczowy Feb 12 at 13:04
    
Thanks for the vox amplug tip - looks like the kind of thing I'd want. – BigTobster Feb 12 at 15:08
    
You could also use a soundhole cover (example). – Matthew Read Feb 12 at 19:05
    
As well as an amplug, you might want to consider a bigger effect unit with headphones - something like a zoom G3 (though there are many similar things available). The ambience effects can make playing through headphones seem a lot less claustrophobic. – topo morto Feb 13 at 14:18
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Such guitars are called Silent Guitars. Try the pointers in the Wikipedia article or search for the term "silent guitar" with quotes around it in a web search engine. They are quite different from electric guitars, and you cannot sensibly practice fingerpicking on an electric guitar since it is going to shred your fingernails.

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Why does an electric guitar shred your fingernails more than a steel-string acoustic? – topo morto Feb 12 at 12:45
2  
Second this suggestion. I use the analogous item - a "silent cello" – Carl Witthoft Feb 12 at 13:04
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@BigTobster bear in mind that 'silent guitar' is something of a marketing term - for example, SILENT guitar™ is a Yamaha trade mark for an instrument that has a piezo (rather than magnetic) pickup, but it is still effectively a type of electric guitar. – topo morto Feb 12 at 15:32
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@AlanSutherland - totally disagree. I had callouses for a couple of years, through playing rubbish guitars. Then I learned how to set up, with half decent guitars, and haven't had callouses for 50+ yrs. You certainly don't want them on your picking fingers anyway. – Tim Feb 13 at 7:48
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Mark Knopfler and Lindsey Buckingham would like a word... – Alex Basson Feb 13 at 10:26

When you say acoustic, I assume it's one with steel strings. It can be made a lot quieter with a fitting that goes into the soundhole, to stop noise coming out. The same would go for a classical type guitar, which would usually be a little quieter anyway.

If you are used to steel strings, a solid body electric is the answer. Very little noise from the guitar itself, but pluggable for your own pleasure. The action, and ease of playing may well be an improvement on what you already have. The strings may well feel better as well. You won't wreck your nails or fingers. If you're just picking rather than strumming, then no-one will be kept awake.

You may also consider playing in a different room, or getting your kids to make friends with others who like sleepovers at their house...

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The Traveler Guitar's and similar - mentioned in the Wikipedia article linked in the answer by user26522 is a very good option.

Another option would be some of the "acoustic electric" guitars made by Godin Guitars, specifically the Multiac series. They are very similar to a solid body electric but have a small chamber that permits the use of an under-saddle transducer to provide a more acoustic sound in addition to the humbucker for more of an electric sound. Several of their guitars are designed to look and feel more like an acoustic and sound more like an acoustic than a strictly electric guitar such as a Fender Strat or Gibson Les Paul. Here us a link to the Godin Website Godin Guitar Website - Multiac Series Below is a picture of some Godin Guitars that I call "solid body acoustics".

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Notice these guitars have no sound hole and the ones pictured have a graphic equalizer on the top but no knobs below the saddle that would impede palm muting or finger picking. Plug in a vox amplug for almost silent practice or plug into an amplifier (or PA system) when you decide to show your family how good you have become on your instrument.

Have fun!

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An acoustic guitar is not going to work for your situation. It's too loud. An electric guitar will still make some noise when you play it, but not as much as an acoustic. Chances are, you can wail away on an electric and not bother anyone, as long as you are in a different room. In the same room, you'll probably make enough noise to keep someone awake.

You can find plenty of headphone amps for electric guitars. That's what you want. Some cost as little as $20 US.

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Check out the Line 6 Variax acoustic guitars. The natural sound is very quiet like an electric guitar and then the acoustic guitar sounds are digitally modeled so it's not 'authentic' acoustic, but they still sound very good. You can even change the style of guitar and a whole lot of things like tuning, capo, etc just by changing the settings.

Here's a video I found on Youtube demoing it.

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Electric guitars are relatively quiet when you wear headphones. They make acoustic pedals that will make the electric guitar sound acoustic. But playing an electric guitar is different than an acoustic guitar in other ways. For instance, electric guitars have the strings closer together, the distance between the string and fret is closer, and electric guitars can hit higher notes. I actually prefer electric guitars for these reasons.

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There are a number of possible solutions; Yamaha makes a silent guitar which has a partial frame and uses ( I believe a transducer to amplify the sound), Gibson use to make a Chet Atkins model both in nylon and steel string that used pizo pups. Some of the Gibson's had a solid body but had a sound hole and acoustic sound played through and amp. You can also find an amp or pedal that lets you use headphones.

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