I played some electric and bass guitar in high school (15 years ago) I am now looking to learn how to play again, so my question is; is there a way to play without annoying the family? As in, can I plug headphones in so only I hear the sound or is this a stupid question?

Thanks for you'r help in advance

  • The simple answer is yes. Why wouldn't you be able to have the output be to headphones?
    – user28
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 1:48
  • 3
    Yep, most modern amps will have a headphone output. Modelling digital amps are probably the best choice here.because the speaker cone is not a key part of the sound, e.g. the Roland Micro Cube or VOX MINI3 G2 .There are also various ways to play through your computer; on Mac you can just plug in directly and use the built in amp simulators in GarageBand. I'm sure you can just Google "guitar with headphones" and get lots of good info.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 2:05
  • And there are some free options to test the waters (windows: ASIO4All, vsthost , simuanalog.org )
    – Yorik
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 19:27
  • be mindful of ear fatigue BTW
    – Yorik
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 19:29

4 Answers 4


For playing at home, in my opinion there is nothing better than some amp simulators. Try GuitarRig or AmpliTube (I prefer AmpliTube). For playing at home and maybe making some recordings it is a really good solution. You just need a USB interface for your guitar and a pair of headphones. Install it on your computer and start to play. Both programs have lots of presets so you can start out of the box.

  • Seconding this. Amplitube 4 is a work of art(though a little pricey.) Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 15:19

I can relate. I like to play my guitar late at night as well. It helps me unwind and relax.

The least expensive way to accomplish your goal is a small headphone guitar amp such as the Vox amPlug AC30 that looks like the one pictured below which you can find for under $20.00:

Vox Headphone Amp

Or if you want more controls - a Concept 3 Guitar Headphone Amp is less than $25.00 and gives you an auxiliary input for your i-pad or other device and a several controls that allow you to tailor your sound.

Concept 3

Both of these are small enough to fit in your gig bag and run on batteries and are very easy to just plug in and play.

Other alternatives have been discussed in other answers and include effects pedals with headphone output as well as one of the many newer guitar amplifiers that offer a headphone jack for silent practice.

Have fun rockin out in the wee hours while the rest of the family sleeps!


If you hope to merely plug a set of headphones straight into the guitar/bass and hear it - no! The pick-ups need to be routed via a pre-amp at least. This could be a proper guitar amp, with a headphone socket used so the sound doesn't come through the speaker, or an effects pedalboard, which is a great way as you can colour the sound as you go. A simple way I used to use at gigs in the changing room (posh gigs!) was to plug into a small cassette recorder, press record, and listen on 'phones. Cheap, cheerful and portable. As Alex says, these days, use a plug-in to computer, and headphones out will do the job without affecting the rest of the family - except those waiting to use the computer...

  • You may wish to check that the device you choose has a 3.5 mm audio jack input to allow you to play along to pre-recorded music.
    – Transistor
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 9:54

Playing electric guitar in headphones can feel a bit 'claustrophobic' due to the lack of reverberant sound. The simplest recommendation I can make if you only want to play through headphones is to get a guitar multi-fx pedal that has built in reverb (and other effects) and a headphone output jack. This will allow you to sound quiet to your family but like a stadium rocker (or a lonely old bluesman in a backroom, or whatever you like) in your headphones. You can also plug it in to a home stereo if you want to play out loud.

If you want an actual guitar amp, you could get one that has a similar selection of effects built in, and then it will do the same job for you when you plug headphones into it.

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