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I live in an apartment with paper thin walls. My bedroom shares walls with two other apartments. Both my neighbors don't care for music that isn't hiphop, especially someone practicing guitar endlessly. They bang on the wall and turn up the TV and shout and laugh. Though I'm not half bad, it's somewhat understandable but they are 'holes about it all.

I usually practice on a telecaster UNPLUGGED, that is enough to upset them. My housemates don't care so I think it's more my neighbors being mean and intolerant.

Sometimes I will bike several miles and practice on a hill but that is exhausting before I even start playing. When I practice at home I try to palm mute as much as possible but some strings slip though and guitar is about being loud sometimes. Any advice?

edit: 2 years later, but I finally have my own house. Now I can practice guitar 24/7! Very worthwhile lol

  • 2
    learn to play along with hip-hop backing tracks. :) – luser droog Sep 23 '14 at 11:03
  • Play louder. ;) – Kyle Jun 13 '16 at 7:59
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This has been covered to some extent before, but you have a few options. I live in an apartment so I understand where you are coming from. I play both acoustic and electric and have never had complaints from the neighbors. I actually bought a small practice amp for daytime playing on the electric, and late at night I'll either play electric unplugged, play my acoustic softly, or hook my electric up to my computer and play through a VST amp like Guitar Rig that can go to headphones or speakers on a low volume.

Your problem sounds pretty extreme though- if even playing an unplugged electric is bothering the neighbors there isn't much you can do. You must be really strumming pretty hard for them to be able to hear that through the walls. Usually the loudest part of playing an electric unplugged is the percussive slaps of the pick on the strings, so if you are playing heavily you can dial it back a bit and it shouldn't be audible to anyone outside the room.

If you want to amplify yourself a bit, the easiest option would be a guitar processor/multi-effects pedal with a headphone out, that way you could play softer and the only sound will come through the headphones.. surely that would be quiet enough to satisfy the neighbors. If you have an audio interface you can do the same thing on your computer using a VST guitar amp like Guitar Rig or Amplitube.

I am actually looking to move to a more isolated living space (a house further out of the city) so I can do more playing/recording without worrying about neighbors. If the people in your building are so intolerant, it might be worth it to consider a move if guitar is important to you, but they sound like they are just being unreasonably sensitive to the situation. Might be worth a talk with the landlord.

  • unfortunately i cant move until next year. i dont really want to get confrontation because my neighbors are pretty cranked out. i can hear normal volume conversation from their room, let alone the unattractive sex. there might as well just be a curtain between us lol. if there is no device or trick to silent a guitar (so i can work my finger muscles), ill just have to find a closer/easier place in nature and practice or shell out some dough for a practice space somewhere. hmm. ive sold my expensive amp and just have that fender mustang amp i can plug some cans into...if only. – smackenzie Sep 22 '14 at 5:12
  • I see. There are a few different Silent Guitars out there, but like I said if your neighbors are complaining about an unplugged electric, even one of those so called silent models won't be much quieter. I can get pretty quiet with an unplugged electric though..you sure you can't just play super soft? I appreciate having a spot in nature you can go (I do the same sometimes to practice my highly undeveloped singing skills), but it's hard to get any kind of daily practice in when you've got to leave your place. – Charles Sep 22 '14 at 8:25
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If you're playing unplugged and they can hear that, the walls must be VERY thin!

I don't think you can do much about the guitar sound itself though. I assume it's a solid body tele ? They're not exactly loud.

Do you have to apologise to them if you fart enthusiastically too ?

Maybe an answer would be to put some sound deadening up ? If your walls really are that bad at stopping sound, just putting up a thick curtain along the wall would help, or daft as it sounds some carpet with underlay along the wall. You only have to hang these, not 'install' them so assuming you're renting, your landlord shouldn't get uppity as it'd be a bit like hanging a picture.

ps. Next time you have to listen to them having sex, return the favour: laugh out loud. (just kidding - don't do this lol)

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Perhaps you're strumming too strongly because you're unplugged? Try practicing with one of those small headphone amps; I use one by electroharmonix, works great. It's better to practice with an amp anyway, even a headphone amp, because you can hear better all the details of your playing and can work on your technique.

And with a headphone amp, when they bang on the wall and shout and laugh, maybe you won't hear them anymore, so it's win-win (for you, heheh).

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Could there be another room in the flat that doesn't share a neighbour's wall? Like the bathroom, which may share another bathroom wall - your bathroom is free a lot of the time, just like your neighbour's is - so it puts a bigger space between you all. I suggested in a similar question to use the car, but I guess you don't have one.

  • its a shotgun apartment, there is no escape heh. ill try the bathroom tomorrow.. tho playing in my closet wasnt quiet enough lol – smackenzie Sep 22 '14 at 9:09

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