Guitarist’s Guide To Playing At Home

When it comes to playing guitar, everybody starts at home - even the greats. But how can you make the most of your guitar when you’re under your own roof? We put together this little guide to playing guitar at home!

Sam Beattie

Sam Beattie

Electric or acoustic guitar for home use?

This question perhaps goes beyond just playing at home, but it’s an important thing to consider. There are pros and cons of both; ultimately it depends on your preferred playing style.

With electric guitar, you have the advantage of being able to practice quietly, as the instruments themselves make very little noise. Plug them into an amp with a headphone socket, or into a computer via an audio interface, and you can jam without disturbing anyone. Electric guitar is also more versatile, in that you can pretty much dial in any chosen tone – indie-pop to snarling classic rock.

With acoustic guitar, you get a rich, full-bodied sound without any need for amplification. While this means that it’s harder to ‘turn it down’ as such, it also means that you don’t really need any extra gear for a good sound. Amps, pedals and so on. In this respect, it could be considered a space-saver, and might be the more affordable option in the long-run.

So – do you prefer the idea of having more tonal flexibility and being able to practice quietly? Go for electric. Or are you after an affordable, practical option that sounds great no matter what? Acoustic it is.

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Keeping noise to a minimum

One of the things that might set home playing apart from stage or studio is volume. To get a good live or recorded sound, a fair bit of volume can work wonders. But at home, you probably won’t have that luxury; family, housemates, neighbours.

What’s the best way to practice guitar quietly at home?

  • Practice with an electric guitar – stating the obvious, we know. But you can plug an electric guitar in and play with headphones, a luxury you don’t get with acoustics.
  • Use a small amp – size isn’t everything, but smaller amps will generally pump out less volume. Put it this way; you definitely don’t need a 100W head with a 4×12” cab to play at home. Bonus points: use an amp with a headphone output! Some even come with an aux in for playing your own backing tracks.
  • Play with plugins via an audio interface – it’s easier than ever to connect your guitar to your computer. Any audio interface will do, and there are plenty of free/affordable DAWs (digital audio workstation – recording software) and plugins out there. Check out Amplitube and Guitar rig to start you off. The best bit? Plug in your headphones and make a racket without upsetting anyone!
  • Use an attenuator – a guitar attenuator will divert unnecessary power from your amp, reducing your volume without compromising your tone. These are particularly great if you’ve got a valve amp. You can enjoy rich tube-driven tone without blowing holes in walls.

Best Amp Attenuators For Home

Acoustic treatment vs sound-proofing

Egg boxes on the walls, blankets hung over doors, foam stuck to the ceiling – we’ve seen it all before. But don’t be fooled; these aren’t forms of sound-proofing. These are types of acoustic treatment, which make your room less reflective, and therefore better-sounding.

So sticking egg boxes to the walls won’t help keep your guitar practice quiet, but they might make it sound a little better. It’s a method more often used by producers so that they can tune their mixes more accurately, but you’re welcome to give it a try…

How many guitars do you need at home?

A question that’s haunted guitarists since the dawn of time – you have to face up to it at some point. Firstly, what are the advantages of having more than one guitar at home? You can often get different sounds, different feels, and if you’re anything like us, you can’t help but like the way they look.

So, ask yourself: do you need more than one sound at home? And possibly more importantly, do you have the space? We’ll talk a little more about saving space later on, as it plays a crucial part in your guitar’s home life. It’s not uncommon to see a Strat, Tele and Les Paul in the same collection. This provides you with three crucial guitar sounds that’ll cover just about anything. Beyond that, consider guitars with different pickups, hardware, additional strings/range – and don’t forget an acoustic. Having more than one guitar can keep you on your toes, and more importantly, keep those creative juices flowing!

Nigel Tufnel's guitar collection - Andertons Music Co. (Spinal Tap)

Above: Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel has an impressive guitar collection – but do you really need that many?

How do you get the best guitar tone at home?

This depends entirely on your preferred setup. If you’ve got an amp, or you prefer to play through an amp in general, consider the type.

What’s the best guitar amp for home use?

A compact amp will be quiet and practical for home use, but if it’s valve-powered, you might need to work a little harder to get a good sound. That’s where attenuation comes in (see above).

With digital and solid-state amps, the sound isn’t normally affected by volume. This means you can play your chosen tone at pretty much any volume, which is great for home use.

Best Guitar Amps For Home

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Guitar amps vs plugins

Let’s say you don’t have the space or budget for an amplifier. That’s where an audio interface comes in. Use an interface to connect your guitar to your computer, tablet or phone and jam or record your ideas that way. As mentioned earlier, free software like GarageBand, Amplitube and Guitar Rig gives you plenty of tones to choose from. Plus you can easily connect headphones and practice in near silence, and there’s very little extra gear to worry about. A win-win!

Focusrite Scarlett Audio Interface - Andertons Music Co.

Above: Focusrite’s Scarlett audio interface range combines affordability with ease of use, great for recording and jamming guitar at home

Best Audio Interfaces For Home

Wanna read more about amps vs plugins? Check our article right here!

Guitar pedals at home

Guitar pedals allow you to explore more complex sounds, to put it simply. If you’ve got a guitar and a way of amplifying it, you might want to expand your tonal palette. Pedals are a great way of doing this, especially with more affordable options on the market than ever.

What are the best guitar pedals for home use?

As with anything, this really depends on the sound or style you’re after. Mini pedals are handy because of their compact size – easy to set up without taking up too much space. Further to this, multi-effects units are popular for home use, because they offer plenty of sound in a single unit. They also tend to be affordable.

Best Guitar Pedals For Home

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While pedalboards are often associated with live performance, there’s merit to having one at home. You might be put off by the idea of having stompboxes and cables strewn across the floor. Having a small, tidy pedalboard means you’ve got plenty of sound at your disposal without the associated mess. It also saves you setting up and tidying it all away each time you want to play!

Best Pedalboards For Home

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Make your guitar feel right at home

There’s a lot to be said for a creative space. You may have seen photos of fancy studios and rehearsal spaces with gear on display, potted plants, nice lights, Persian rugs – you get the idea. Having a great space at home can make the whole guitar-playing experience more enjoyable.

We’re not saying go out and buy fairy lights and lava lamps – but there’s no harm in making your gear cosy. If you’ve got a compact amplifier and a neat pedalboard, find the right space for them. This might be under a desk, next to your computer, in a room of its own. Make sure you’ve got plenty of desk space for your interface, tab/manuscript, your computer or tablet, and any accessories you want to use.

Finally, think about where your guitar(s) might live. Guitar stands and hangers are more affordable than ever. They keep your gear presentable and within reach at all times. If you haven’t got floor space for your instruments, invest in a nice gigbag or hardcase to keep it safe. Finally, a little TLC goes a long way – keep a cloth or guitar cleaning kit to hand at all times so that your instrument is in top-shape.

Best Guitar Accessories For Home

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More info

If you haven’t already run off to give your instrument a strum, we’re hoping you’re feeling a little more inspired about playing guitar at home. There are plenty of ways to make the most of it. You don’t need to be on-stage to get a great guitar sound, and you don’t need an extensive setup to love your instrument. Consider the questions we’ve asked and you’ll be on your way to the perfect home guitar rig in no time!

If you’d like to read more informative articles and handy guides, check out the rest of our Learn content. If you’d like to shop guitar gear, click here to browse the Andertons Music Co. Guitar Department. Thanks for stopping by!

Sam Beattie
Sam Beattie
Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw and synth enthusiast. He spends his free time composing for music libraries and playing in a post-rock band. Sam's desert island gear would be his Mexican Tele, Strymon El Capistan and Teenage Engineering OP-1.

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