I have an electric bass guitar at home and I would like to learn how to play it. I do have some knowledge in playing the guitar and I own a nice acoustic guitar, which can be amplified but does not require to.

I was wondering if there was any sort of combination of connecting the bass guitar to headphones to follow music from a device (via a USB sound card). At the moment, I do not intend to invest in an amp, so would like to know of alternatives.

What can you suggest?

  • 1
    Not very sure about Bass, But Ableton Lite lets connecting Electric Guitar directly unamplified to use Ableton as an Amp. GarageBand Mobile also has similar things I think. Jun 23, 2020 at 16:13
  • 1
    What equipment do you already own - e.g. do you already have a USB sound card, and if so, which one? Jun 23, 2020 at 22:47
  • I just have the bass guitar.
    – gtludwig
    Jun 24, 2020 at 8:34
  • 2
    There are dedicated "bass headphone amps" You can google them. Example amazon.com/AP2BS-amPlug-Guitar-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/… (no endorsement or recommendation intended)
    – Hilmar
    Jun 24, 2020 at 16:05
  • you can buy an irig and use a phone app? Jun 21, 2021 at 10:51

3 Answers 3


There are nice small mixers which accept input from the guitar and some other source and feed the output to a headphone jack // line out.

For example, this series of mini-amps from VOX.

Or this one from c-tech which has a little bit of mix & clean/dirty adjustment

  • 2
    For less than half that price, OP could buy a pre-loved practice amp with a half decent speaker.
    – Tim
    Jun 23, 2020 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Tim - so long as said amp has a headphone jack, I fully agree. Jun 23, 2020 at 15:22

A really cheap and cheerful way to hear it better is to rest the head on a table, or even better, a hollow wooden box. Works quite well on a tomtom (part of a drumkit) if you happen to have one kicking around.

Or, look around for a second-hand practice amp. The last one I bought cost less than £15 and wrks well - it is actually a bass guitar practice amp, but a guitar amp would work fine. And yes, a headphone socket to boot!


If you're just learning how to play the notes, then you could rest it on something resonant, or not… it will do, but it won't gain you much overall.

As a bass un-amplified sounds nothing like one that is amplified, you're not going to learn much except where the notes are.

Even if you have to pick something up off eBay, Freecycle or a junk shop, get something that will make a noise.
An amp, any amp will do to start with.

Half of the playing of a bass is in what noises you can get out of it, not just what notes. You can learn the notes & fingerings with it just resting on your lap sitting on the bed, but performing is a whole other level & that requires you to stand up in front of an amp [even if to start with it's just an amp in your iPhone with a pair of ear-buds.]

  • 2
    Although it's true that playing unamplified in your bedroom can only train a very small portion of what there is to practise about playing bass, I would actually claim the same about playing amplified alone. Bass is one of those instruments whose parts generally don't make sense musically without context. All the rhythmic feeling aspect can only properly develop when tuned in to a live drummer. (Proficient bassists are able to play like they have a drumset built-in, but that's advanced and can be counterproductive in the much more common situation where you are playing with a drummer.) Jun 24, 2020 at 11:12
  • 2
    That reminds me of a band I used to dep for - sometimes on bass & sometimes on drums. When I was on bass, we synced up beautifully, no worries. .. but when I was on drums, the bassist used to lag behind so far that I had to stop listening to him so the rest of us could play in time. I had a conversation with the other drummer about it - he said he'd always done the same, just play what you're playing & let the bassist keep up as best he could. We figured it was that he considered the point when his finger hit the string that was the beat, rather than when he let go. There was no fixing him
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 24, 2020 at 11:17

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