I normally play bass, but I dabble with guitar sometimes. I also live in a small apartment, and since I often play late at night and I like my upstairs neighbors, I practice using headphones. I have a nice setup for bass that I've really come to enjoy. I plug my bass into an MXR Bass Preamp pedal, and that runs into a Behringer MA400 headphone amp. I use the preamp pedal for its tone-shaping capabilities (it has a 3-band EQ with sweepable mids); otherwise, it's nothing fancy (no distortion channel or anything like that). The MA400 has both an XLR and quarter-inch input, and I use the XLR out on the preamp pedal to run into the headphone amp, so I can also plug an MP3 player into the headphone output if I want to practice along with something.

I like the setup, but I haven't really found anything comparable for guitar. I've found DI boxes for guitar, but they generally don't seem to have a 3-band EQ, which I'd like to have (the MA400 only has volume controls). It looks like maybe there isn't really anything like the MXR Bass Preamp for guitar. Is this sort of setup not generally used for guitar? Why or why not?

  • Have you tried using the same setup for guitar?
    – topo morto
    Jan 4 '16 at 19:20
  • @topomorto: You know, I actually haven't yet. (I don't have a guitar right now, I just borrow one from time to time, but I may get one soon.) It would be interesting to see how it sounds through the MXR Bass Preamp pedal.
    – mipadi
    Jan 4 '16 at 19:23
  • It should definitely get you a sound - most people want a bit of amp-like distortion and a bit of cabinet-like band limiting, but I personally find a clean, full-range sound quite refreshing.
    – topo morto
    Jan 4 '16 at 20:19
  • If we are in subject of berhinger their v-amp3 have 3band equalizer built in
    – teodozjan
    Jan 4 '16 at 20:28
  • This seems very opinion-based. You're not really providing much in the way of qualifying criteria. I personally run my Strat to an digital effects pedal to a guitar amp to the headphones, but there's tons of setups that would work.
    – user28
    Jan 9 '16 at 23:03

Just speaking in terms of what I'd do, but - honestly I'd just get a small combo amp and plug the headphones into it. I had a nice Marshall guitar amp that sells for about $400 new. It was everything a full blown half stack is, but just in a smaller, apartment friendly package (so, i.e., it had one speaker, instead of four, and less watts...BUT..it had all the same wonderful effects (reverb, delay, phase, octave, flange, more.. it could really do a lot to the sound of an electric guitar, and what wonderful fun that is to play with!

As someone who plays both bass and regular electric, I suspect what you're finding is that a D.I. box designed to allow you to bypass having an amp is easy to find for a bass. But an electric guitar, no...just get a small amp. For $400 or so you can have a sweet solid state Marshall. (*You HAVE TO get solid state, for an apartment, because tube amps CANNOT be played through headphones (they fry without the speakers they're attached to working)

EDIT: having said all that, you could use this (which is a cheaper way to go, and more like what you asked about I think): http://www.zzounds.com/item--VOXAP2CR I believe you can plug your mp3 player onto it, but reviews suggest it isn't going to be as sweet as the amp I suggested (it may add a little hiss, and lack amenities.) But for $40, it's something to get going with.

  • Why isn't it as easy to find a DI box to bypass an amp for guitar?
    – mipadi
    Jan 10 '16 at 18:19
  • mipadi - it is just as easy, if not easier, as there are more products on the market for guitars than basses.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jan 10 '16 at 18:34

There are lots of tone-shaping preamps available for guitar. Examples available at the moment include the Tech 21 Sansamp series, and various similar products from companies like Joyo. There is a list of some relevant products at http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/list-of-amp-in-a-box-pedals.1603214/. One of the main considerations is what style of distortion you want, if any.

I also often find that running a reverb pedal after an amp sim is great to remove some of the claustrophobia that practicing with headphones can induce. I personally have become quite fond of a basic 'clean sounding' setup of guitar -> reverb -> headphone amp, with no amp or cab simulation going on at all.

If (like me) you didn't want distortion but did want EQ, you could also use a stand alone EQ pedal such as the Empress Effects ParaEq w/Boost.

Another option would be to use a multi-fx with a headphone output, such as a Line 6 POD or Zoom G3, which would give you distortion, reverb, and more besides, though sometimes the distraction of a large number of options can be unwelcome.

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