4

Background

I have been a harmonica player for about 2 years now, and used to play the guitar. But since having children I have only free time at night. That's why at first I decided to retake guitar practice and buy an electric one. But since I like music like Korn, Iron maiden, Red Hot Chilly Peppers, etc, I started thinking about trying the bass guitar, since it has always seemed pretty cool to me and love the sound of those slaps. The thing is if I can't practice, I can't improve. So if one of them is significantly quieter than the other one, I will stick to it and learn my way forward.

Question

Which one is quieter when played unamplified, Bass or Guitar?

Thanks!

3

If it's slapped and popped, the bass will be louder than the guitar. On the latter, you'll be strumming chords, or playing riffs, but it will be slightly quieter than a bass played in the way you describe. But you will still want to hear what it really sounds like, so will need an amp. with a headphone socket anyway, although that won't upset the neighbours. Try to locate a room which isn't used by neighbours much - bathroom, maybe, but be careful taking live mains in there!

  • Note that if it's not slapped or popped, the bass will generally be much quieter than guitar. But a lot depends on the instruments in question. How much the body and/or neck resonates has a big effect on the unamplified volume. My guitars have a fairly wide range of unplugged volume between them. – Todd Wilcox Aug 26 at 18:35
  • What if the guitar is played using a pick? Will it still be quieter? – Marc Carné Bori Aug 26 at 18:38
  • Than a slapped / popped bass I mean – Marc Carné Bori Aug 26 at 18:44
  • Anyone inclined to find the sound objectionable will object to either. – Laurence Payne Aug 26 at 18:51
  • I suggest you buy a sound machine. I've been able to buy them at Bed Bath and Beyond. Sometimes Target as well. – aparente001 Aug 27 at 4:49
2

You might not have meant it literally, but you probably don't want to get into the habit of genuinely practicing unamplified, as not hearing the signal you're producing doesn't give you any feedback on whether you're playing evenly, muting well, etc, Do use headphones plugged in to an amp, or a multieffect unit with a headphone out.

In terms of what you'd hear acoustically from an electric instrument, I'd say that gentle fingerstyle bass is the quietest, and slap bass is the loudest, with electric guitar somewhere in the middle. Having said that, all of them are probably going to keep someone awake if you're playing in the same room, and all of them are probably going to be fine a couple of rooms away (assuming thickish walls) with doors closed.

  • Eddie Van Halen has said before that he practiced unamplified a lot and he's recommended it. But it's definitely different to play into headphones. – Todd Wilcox Aug 26 at 18:34
2

I don't think you can really say. It depends on the specific instruments. Either way, you should definitely play the one you want to play the most, otherwise you'll have less incentive to practice and improve. Slaps and pops are louder on the bass than playing finger style, but a non-resonant bass played with slapping is likely to be quieter than a resonant bass played finger style.

If you are trying to play in the same room as a sleeping baby (or person of any age), then neither one may be quite enough. If there's a white noise generator in the room also then you might get away with it.

If you can be in a separate room with the door closed, then either bass or guitar should be quiet enough. As others have recommended, using a practice amp/device with headphones will help a lot with developing many techniques, but if you are also supposed to be listening to a baby monitor, it's probably best to not have headphones on.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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