I am playing guitar (mostly Acoustic Guitar) for like 2 years now so i wouldn't say that i completely suck. i can play numerous songs and strum chords fairly and easily. Although every day is a new day and i want to improve my guitar playing. But i live in a building where the walls are very thin and rooms are very close to each other. I can hear people even if they are just talking on the phone, so it‘s fair to assume that the sound of my guitar would be broadcasted to the whole building very easily. I get anxious about it and thats why i always strum and play notes slowly and quietly without aggression. Most of the time, i am playing without a pick. No one ever complained or told me to shut up though and once i even got a compliment from 1 neighbour when i was playing karma police(I love Radiohead) but that feeling still wont go away. I also believe that i have developed a bad technique on the picking hand just because of this.

I am very very very passionate about music. i even want to learn more instruments but for now i only have guitar with me. I love playing and practicing it and i want to keep on improving and learn new licks and skill but it takes a while to get the hang of it while making noise in the process and i feel that playing quietly is kinda holding me back. I know it sounds stupid but how do i get this out of my head while playing or any other alternative?.

  • In addition to my answer below I also wanted to share my answer to another question on Stack Exchange Music where I expand on how to develop a more relaxed mindset including tricking your own brain to overcome performance anxiety and the natural fear of being judged. The second half of the content in the following link is all about shifting your mental focus to be less self conscious. Click this link (music.stackexchange.com/a/40356/16897) and read the second half. I think it will help with the psychology. Jun 4, 2020 at 19:30

5 Answers 5


A lot of musicians have this problem, so you are not alone with being anxious about your playing. If you are playing rock, I guess you are using an electric guitar. So you should be able to plug headphones in your amp. The sound of an "unplugged" e-guitar is in no way a form of disturbing your neighbours.

Using headphones also gives you a more direct sound to the ears, so you can improve the quality of your playing with listening closely. Moreover the music often needs to be really loud, which can easily being achieved using headphones.

It is also of good use if you start playing over some music you are playing on your stereo. You get the flow, start to jam some guitar solo and will "warm up" yourself. After this intro it will give you some confidence and a nice way to get a groove going.

I also know a band with a DJ always giving some tunes for the band to dive in and slowly fades out the recorded music, so it is a smooth transition to the live sound.

If using headphones or using some guide track in the background still does not make feel you good, you should maybe start playing with other musicians or in front of some friends. This is much more challenging, so it will become more easy for you to just have your neighbors listening.

Making recordings of your playing and listening to it may also help. You can get some reference, and a feeling for what you sound like. Every day lets you become better, so you can look back some time and get an overview for what you have already achieved.

Some Reverb can also make you sound better when you are playing slowly to practice something. You can always try to optimize your sound, take advantage of your audience to keep your expectations high and keep on making good quality music. Most important: enjoy yourself and feel the sound you are creating.

  • Thank you for the suggestions. i do record my self regularly and see where i screwed up and start improving on next attempt. i am mostly into rock and metal music and i dont know anyone around who likes the same style as me, so i am mostly playing alone in my room.
    – Okcomputer
    Jun 3, 2020 at 22:22
  • There are platforms for online collaboration, if you would like to give a try musicianwave.com/10-great-music-collaboration-websites-and-apps
    – rank
    Jun 3, 2020 at 22:26

That is an excellent question and I can relate to what you are feeling. When I first started learning to play guitar and sing I got to a point where I was perfectly comfortable home alone on my couch singing and playing for the furniture. But bring an audience of even one person in the room and all of a sudden I couldn't get my fingers to work and could not even play a basic chord! It sounds like you are experiencing the same "stage fright" that I endured for a time. Even though nobody is sitting in front of you, you perceive that they are listening and the fact that one of your neighbors commented on your playing confirms that in your mind.

The good news is those feelings are perfectly normal for most humans. And almost everyone eventually learns to overcome this natural phenomenon. Once you overcome this self conscious fear of being judged, you will relish every opportunity to perform for others (live). Sharing your music with others and playing with other musicians will take your enjoyment of playing your instrument to a whole new level and you will become even more passionate than you are now.

I am sure you set goals for yourself in terms of improving your guitar skills. It takes deliberate work and practice to achieve each of these goals. Nothing comes automatically in the beginning, but the more you practice, the more automatic many aspects of your playing become.

Make it a goal to develop your confidence (along with your playing skills) to a point where you become not only comfortable playing for an audience, but seek out opportunities to share your music with others. Consider what steps you might take towards accomplishing that goal.

One obvious first step might be get to a point where you can play loud enough for your neighbors to hear you. You might start by playing some songs you are very comfortable playing, such as the Radiohead song you have already received positive feedback on. What other songs can you play as well as you play that song?

Practice particular songs over and over either using a very thin pick, finger picking, or an electric guitar with a headphone amp. Once you have 3 that you feel you can play with some level of competence, make that your first "set list". Then conduct a performance for your unseen "audience" (neighbors behind the walls) by playing your three song set as you normally would if you were sitting in a cabin in the woods all alone. Consider this an exercise towards accomplishing a goal. Continue to build on your initial "set list" adding new songs regularly and extending the length of your "concerts".

Eventually you will become comfortable enough to take the next step towards your goal of loving to perform live and invite a friend over to listen to your performance. Bolstered by the inevitable positive feedback your next step will be a group of friends, eventually working up to performing a 15 minute set at an open mic.

Always keep this in mind - you play better already than almost every one of your neighbors because they don't play an instrument at all. You will find that many folks will admire the fact that you can play even a basic three chord strumming song because most folks can't even play a C chord much less put three chords together with the proper rhythm and timing. You are able to do something that very few if any of your neighbors can do. They will be envious of your ability, regardless of your current skill level.

Overcoming "stage fright" is a normal part of your evolution as a musician. Like every other skill you develop as you progress on your instrument, it will be a deliberate process and take work. But the enjoyment you will derive from sharing your music with someone other than yourself will make it worth the effort.

Good luck and enjoy the journey.

  • That is what it feels like. And Thank you so much for the suggestions as i am also reading the link you shared. I play guitar because i like it and even if i am not sharing it with anyone or playing with anyone, i still enjoy it because it makes me feel good. Sadly no one in my friend circle plays any instrument or have same taste so its hard to find someone who does. I have variety of songs in my catalogue ranging from Radiohead, Arcade fire to Iron maiden. i mostly play soft stuff when i play loud because i feel that metal sound would rile up the neighbours and i don‘t wanna disturb them
    – Okcomputer
    Jun 4, 2020 at 20:57

Well, my first idea is screw your neighbors and dont care about them. Second thought would be headphones. If that still bothers you, maybe try practicing somewhere else, like at a friends house, music studio, or as a street performer. If youre good, your neighbors probably wont even mind you practicing for a little time each day,.

  • Thank you for the suggestions :) i mostly play on fixed schedule so they know when i am going to practice and i never really practiced outside but will try to do that
    – Okcomputer
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:34
  • Ayy my pleasure. I like to practice instruments outside a lot. If you dont have allergies, its a pretty easy way to get some coin and make some other people happy, just as long as you're good at playing that is. ;) Jun 4, 2020 at 17:48
  • So a little disclosure: I am a super introvert and with a guitar you can imagine. But playing alone outside is something i never really did but will try to do that more often
    – Okcomputer
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:53
  • Yeah I get that. I have a lot of introvert/shy friends, but the thing with street performing its that usually people just toss money, and walk away. Theyre not gonna get into a full on conversation (unless its that drunk guy in the blue hoodie, but thats another story) or anything like that. Some people also prefer to maybe just go out to the back yard or a park. Idk what youre gonna like the most, but playing outside is definitely a lot of fun. Jun 4, 2020 at 17:57

you can get a sound hole deadener - a rubber plug you stick in the sound hole which reduces the boom effect - easily found on ebay but measure your sound-hole carefully. You can also try sticking some foam or sponge under the strings at the bridge to reduce the noise. There are also travel acoustic guitars which only use piezo electonics and so are silent in the audible sense but use a preamp and headphones .


Too bad for the neighbors. You gotta practice. If neighbors have complained I'd try asking what times would work for them. Right now with the pandemic everyone is at home. But in general, if you have an hour of time where they aren't home then you have no worries.

As for technique, this may be a golden opportunity for you. Many players play TOO HARD and cannot control dynamics. There also seems to be a natural tendency for people to correlate Fast and Hard. So it becomes very difficult if not impossible to play fast and soft! There is every reason to develop the ability to separate speed and dynamics. In fact some classical guitar instructors encourage students to intentionally play with a soft touch until a piece is mastered and memorized, then add stronger dynamics to it. You get much better control.

  • Thank you for the suggestions. They never complained and i play on fixed schedule so they kind of know it but i still play softly. I am not trying to shred or sweep picking etc because i feel that its too early for me to do that. i am trying to improve with additional stretchy chords, fingerpicking and songs with odd time signatures.
    – Okcomputer
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:39
  • I must have misread your post. The comment I made about playing softly has nothing to do with shred. It is a valid technique for any style.
    – user50691
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:42
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    I am self taught, so all the suggestions from everyone here are very helpful and i will keep that in mind.
    – Okcomputer
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:46
  • Got it. If you're worried about not sounding good you won't get better without practice. It's a natural thing. I am studying voice and it's very difficult to sing full volume when I'm not sure it will be in tune. But it will sound like crap if I don't so I do it any way.
    – user50691
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:57
  • "once i even got a compliment from 1 neighbour when i was playing karma police" This is the quote. I misread complement as complaint.
    – user50691
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:58

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