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I don't have much time for guitar practice so this will often have to take place at night. Right now I am using an electric guitar, a software amp and effects and headphones, which is okay for picking exercises, fingerstyle, scales etc.

But I noticed my strumming is really suffering, since this is still too loud, even though it's only the noise of an unamplified electric guitar.

Are there ways to further silence an electric guitar? Maybe there are special picks or ways to silence the strings that allow for regular strumming practice?

marked as duplicate by jonrsharpe, Dom, Dave, piofusco, Shevliaskovic Feb 13 '15 at 7:49

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  • Is "isolate the room" an option? – yo' Feb 12 '15 at 15:46
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Place a soft sponge between the body and the strings near the bridge, to eliminate even more sound.

I caution that while it is OK to do that, you want to spend some time practicing where you can actually hear what you are doing. Further, if you are using headphones on a regular basis, be warned that you probably listen at a volume that can cause damage to your ears at sustained intervals of time, and should consider turning down.

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    A sock or handkerchief wrapped between each string just after the bridge works just as well. – piofusco Feb 12 '15 at 16:03
  • I have interlaced a handkerchief in between the strings with some success now that you mention it. – amalgamate Feb 12 '15 at 16:25
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    This does actually help! I used some shoelace very close to the bridge. It makes the guitar sound pretty damp acoustically, but if I switch on some distortion for my headphones it actually even sounds okay. – aLu Feb 12 '15 at 20:33
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Dependent as to how cold it may be, you could get in the car and drive to somewhere quiet (or noisy for that matter), park up and play in the back. If it's a left-hooker, then passenger seat may do.You could still use laptop and whatever, plugged into the car power.

I suggested this to a drummer I work with, who has a young baby. He finds a corner of a supermarket car park, and just plays a snare. He's talking about a small van now, with a kit bolted in the back. Or an electronic kit, powered by 12volts, and headphones. He could even park in his drive to practise then, heater on if it's too cold, aircon on otherwise!

  • I used to practice at the top of a stairwell in a school building. It only lead to the maintenance room so it was low traffic. Of course my girlfriend could here me practicing in her class in the building, but no one complained. – amalgamate Feb 12 '15 at 17:10
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    Once or twice I played on the slow bus to Leicester, man those were the days... – Bob Broadley Feb 12 '15 at 17:55
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    @amalgamate - so at least she knew you weren't gallivanting! Yes, there is often a place in a building that is isolated enough. Bathrooms are quite good, as next door's is next to yours, and people don't spend too long in there, hopefully. – Tim Feb 12 '15 at 17:57
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I can relate to your concern. I had the same problem when I lived with a roommate who felt the need to sleep while I felt the need to practice. Now I live alone so I can play as loud as I want whenever I want.

Sounds like you've tamed the majority of sound by playing through headphones. If you are using a solid body guitar, that is about as quiet as you can get your guitar to be without changing to lighter strings which you probably do not want to do unless you happen to have an extra guitar just for midnight practicing.

The only other thing to try is extremely thin picks. Dunlop makes a nylon pick that is only .38mm (paper thin) and will generate much less volume no matter how hard you try to strum. It won't feel the same as heavier picks but just for strumming and practicing chord changes it should be fine. You might find them at your local music store and I know you can find them on line (no more expensive than any other standard pick). I would try to buy just a couple locally to try them before you buy an entire dozen. I would never try to perform with one of those but I do keep a few handy for just the reason you describe - quiet practice (in case I have a guest sleeping over).

You can also find felt picks for ukuleles that are quiet - but they are quite stiff and the alterations you would need to make in the flexing of your wrist to strum with such a pick would be awkward at best and might have an unintended bad influence on your regular strumming movement.

Beyond that, try to find a place in your abode that is most isolated sound wise from whomever might be needing sleep while you are needing practice.

Locate that spot, then orient yourself so the guitar is facing away from sleeping ears and perhaps hang some type of sound absorbing (verses reflecting) soft material on the wall in front of you. Blankets, quilts or acoustic foam or any type of foam padding (yoga mat) that you have handy. You can try securing it to the wall with blue painters tape or a few thumbtacks. Or if you can set up facing a window, heavy curtains would also help absorb some of the sound. Or even sit on the floor behind a couch or sofa - maybe even drape a blanket over the back of a chair and set some pillows or sofa cushions in the chair.

Good luck finding a happy compromise which allows for guitar practice after bedtime. You can never get too much practice on your instrument - but of course sufficient sleep is always a good thing too.

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    Using thin picks goes with my solution as well, the feel will be reduced and that will compensate a little. (Of course they break for me constantly.) – amalgamate Feb 12 '15 at 17:12
  • @amalgamate They do break more easily that the thicker picks. But a dozen is only like ($4.00) Four dollars U.S. – Rockin Cowboy Feb 12 '15 at 19:31
  • I combined amalgamate's solution with thin picks, but I found the noise to actually increase. I guess at low/damped volume the noise of the pick itself is critical, rather than its impact on the strings. – aLu Feb 12 '15 at 20:37
  • @aLu That would be my assumption. But the pick noise does not increase with the dampening suggested by amalgamate, it's just that it becomes more pronounced against the now LOWER volume produced by the string vibration. – Rockin Cowboy Feb 12 '15 at 21:00
  • @Rocking Cowboy Yeah, that's what I meant. But it increases compared to a thicker pick, which produces less noise by itself. – aLu Feb 12 '15 at 21:05

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