I'm looking for an portable quiet instrument that I can have fun with without disturbing the neighbors at night. And listening to flutes in recordings, I got the impression that they are relatively quiet. But looking around the net, I couldn't get a good idea about the instrument's loudness. How loud is it? As loud as a classical guitar? an acoustic guitar? a piano? a clarinet? a trumpet? Can I play it at night without disturbing others?

  • 1
    I play classical guitar, which isn't particularly loud, but loud enough to be a problem in hotels. So I bought myself a silent guitar, which is basically a fingerboard with strings, a pickup, and foldable struts to simulate the full guitar size. I use it with headphones. It isn't completely silent, but it certainly can't be heard outside the room.
    – John
    Dec 9, 2014 at 13:49
  • 3
    It's loud enough that you can hear it through hotel walls. I once was on a trip and brought my flute to practice. I took a break and was still hearing flute noises. Turns out the person in the next room was also practicing their flute.
    – Don Hosek
    Mar 11, 2020 at 20:08
  • It also depends on the material of the flute. I believe platinum and gold flutes respectively sound much louder than silver flutes.
    – O S
    Sep 22, 2020 at 22:11

5 Answers 5


Loudness is only one factor.Sound works in many ways, and this will compound the answer. Listen to a band playing when you're outside the hall, and you'll hear the bass far better than guitars, drums etc. The low frequencies can travel better. So, a higher register instrument may be better. Consider the piercing aspect of a sound. In fresh air, it'll carry well - too well, maybe! However, if there is a decent brick wall separating you and the neighbours, the piercing sound tends to get absorbed by the concrete etc. A trumpet, for example, tends to be more easily heard than a flute. But, you can use a mute in a trumpet, to take lots of decibels away.An acoustic guitar is quite quiet, and if you put some foam inside it, it's even quieter.The flute is probably the best portable for you. I take one on holidays, so's not to annoy too many folks, but continue playing something.An electric piano is your best bet, with headphones. However, you did mention portable, and it ain't !

  • Which intruments would you compare it to when listened to directly, and when listened to from behind a brick wall?
    – Anthony
    Jun 1, 2014 at 15:35
  • 1
    The acoustic guitar, most likely, in both cases. And both can be played quietly anyway.You may find that your bathroom, for example, is built next to the neighbour's bathroom. People don't spend too long there, so it could be a good place to play. great acoustics, too !!
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2014 at 16:00
  • 1
    Thanks for the advice @tim and the thorough answer. Looks like the flute's sound is a bit louder and more penetrating than I expected. I guess I should stick to playing an unplugged electric guitar at night.
    – Anthony
    Jun 1, 2014 at 16:15
  • 4
    Why don't you use the amp's headphone socket, or that on an effects pedal, or even, as I used to, an old cassette or minidisc set to record, with earphones? That way you get a more satisfying sound. If you don't have the facility, it's not expensive, and it solves your problem.
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2014 at 16:34
  • 2
    @Ivan - maybe you played the piano and guitar better than the flute... I use all three, and the flute is quietest.
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2014 at 18:16

I recently started playing flute and like you thought it would be pretty quiet. This is not the case. As well as packing a surprising amount of volume, it is pretty piercing the moment you come out of the bottom octave. And especially when you're learning, you will play higher notes more loudly because playing high notes quietly is not easy (or low notes loudly).

I would say it is louder than a classical guitar for sure, and perhaps on a par with a piano. It rather depends on your house construction but my neighbours can easily hear me play my flute and they cannot hear our TV. I would certainly not play it when anyone in the house or next door was trying to sleep.


Flute can be quiet, as instruments go. But it's also quite capable of holding its own in a full symphony orchestra! I'm afraid that, if your neighbours are in a mindset to be annoyed by instrumental practice, they'll find a flute quite enough justification. Your only really safe bet is an electronic piano with headphones. And that isn't terribly portable. (And I've had neighbours who have claimed to be annoyed by the clunking of the keybed on one of those!)


No musical instrument is quiet. Pretty sounding flute can annoy even the player. Try to practice when no one will be bothered..and play recitals at night. The quietest instrument out there is probably an oversized plywood top, low priced dreadnaught style guitar. I had one, and was it quiet..this on the other hand may annoy teachers and band mates.


According to what appears to be a popular enough channel on how to play the flute...

...Recorder, Guitar, and Viola are the only instruments that the flute is louder than.

That said, I've been practicing flute in my apartment and haven't gotten any complaints (at least not yet). I'm a beginner who's trying to get better at long tones, so being able to maintaining integrity on the newer notes (like G4) is still a challenge. I'm definitely NOT able to play loudly like the professionals do. OTOH, I'm fairly sure I got handed a beginner flute (used by someone when they were learning flute in 5th grade), and those aren't known to be as loud.

Last but not least, I can sort of gauge how loud I am with my own ears, compare it to how loud my computer is when I play a typical YouTube video, and they seem about equivalent (although I haven't factored for variances in how different sounds would travel).

And my neighbors (at least a few years ago) were definitely listening, as I got complaints by way of my apartment's manager when practicing on euphonium after hours (I've played that at normal dynamics). I've since then use a practice mute.

If you're in a single family home, you should be fine. In an apartment/condo/townhouse, that'll depend on proximity to adjacent neighbors (if you're in a side unit, playing on the side away from everyone else could help), and how thin the walls are.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.