How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

One of the perks of the electric guitar is that you can play it with headphones. 

How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

The electric guitar is meant to be loud. If you’re a musician, and the electric guitar is your instrument, then you know it sounds its best when plugged into an amp where it can really let loose.

But plugging it into an amp and blasting the guitar at full volume is not always an option. 

The problem comes when you start to get those noise complaints. You want to play your instrument to its full potential, but you don’t want to cause a noise disturbance while you’re doing it.

You might be staying in a hotel, or have close neighbors. Whatever your reason, there is sometimes a call for quieter electric guitar playing. 

This is where headphones come in handy. Regardless of your choice of headphones, you have various options at your hands when it comes to connecting them up to your electric guitar.

You won’t be able to do this directly, so there are a few different things you could try. 

This article looks at five different methods of playing your electric guitar with headphones. We have also included handy product hints for your convenience. 

The Methods

Method 1 – Standard Amplifier

How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

Using your standard amplifier is one of the most direct and easiest ways to play your electric guitar through headphones.

Amps have big sounds, and they have all the things you need in one place for the ultimate electric guitar experience. 

A lot of modern amps, and even some older pieces of kit, have the option to directly plug in your headphones to the amp device.

The only thing you might need is an adapter to make your headphones the right size. This might cost you a little, but it will just be a little. 

So all you need is a decent pair of headphones and some ears that can take the noise.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. You might also need the correct adapter depending on the type of headphones that you have purchased.

Most standard electric guitar amps need a 1/4-inch cable to function properly. So, if your headphones don’t match up, then you won’t be able to use them without that adapter.

Thankfully, headphone adapters are easy enough to find. 

You also have the option of buying a new pair of headphones. There are plenty of headphones on the market that cater for direct amplifier connections.

We’ve even listed one below that you can check out if you so wish. 

The headphone port can be in various places across the different amp options. You might find it on the top with other outputs, such as speaker ports. It could also be on the side or the back.

One thing that you have to remember is to turn down that volume dial. You can cause real damage to your ears if you forget to do this. Amps kick out a lot of noise, after all. 

We Recommend

There are plenty of headphones out there that will do the job. We recommend the OneOdio Wired Headphone option.

This is a good pair of headphones because they come ready made to connect up to any amp, no need to buy an adapter at all.

They are also pretty cost effective, have great audio sound and even take into consideration your bass needs. 

Method 2 – Guitar Headphone Amplifier

How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

A guitar headphone amplifier is a good option if you happen to have an amplifier that doesn’t come with a port for your headphones already built in.

Guitar headphone amplifiers are like miniature amplifiers. These are essentially pocket sized devices. They are built to facilitate the use of headphones and electric guitar playing. 

They save space. They save you money on your electricity bill. They also save your ears, slightly.

It’s quite obvious that you won’t get the same sound output that you would find from a standard size amplifier. However, for what they are, they’re pretty good. 

You can purchase them for a decent price. They are a convenient and low key way of playing your electric guitar with headphones.

You will definitely not cause any noise pollution if you chose to use one of these. 

That being said, you will lose out on the overall audio experience. Because, these little amplifiers are not built for any massive sound quality. With a decent model, you will get a decent enough sound. 

You’ll be able to have a solo music session in a small space. Depending on what type of electric guitar music you like to play, these small amps are also customizable to different genres.

So, if you prefer blues to rock, then you can buy a blues specific guitar headphone amplifier. 

These are also a great option for if you travel around a lot with your electric guitar. They are compact enough to fit safely in your bag or your pocket.

But they’re also important enough to your playing that you won’t forget it when you leave. 

We Recommend

This is a hard one because, like we said, what you want in terms of a guitar headphone amplifier depends on what type of electric guitarist you are.

That in mind, the following product ticks a lot of boxes: Sonicake. 

Method 3 – Audio Interfaces 

How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

An audio  interface hooked up to your computer can give you a quiet play session and also a quiet recording session too. 

Audio interfaces allow you to hook up your electric guitar to your computer via some form of cable, normally a USB or similar.

This means that you can record your playing in real time and without losing any sound quality in the process. 

The reason this type of product makes our list is because you can plug your headphones into these audio interfaces.

That means you have the option of playing with or without headphones. This is about playing with headphones, and therefore that’s why we’ve mentioned them. 

Most audio interfaces where you can hook your electric guitar directly up also have an option for connection of your headphones. So you can play, record and listen quietly all at the same time.

Another perk is that you can listen to simultaneous audio from your PC or MAC device as well. You get an all round audio experience. 

This is especially true of VST plugin audio interfaces. These are a cool thing to have in your pocket if you’re into recording your own sound.

Without the help of an amp, you might find yourself missing the effects such as the pedal etc. With the use of a VST plugin, you won’t have to miss out on anything. 

We Recommend

In terms of products here, you are kind of spoiled for choice. But we’ve managed to narrow it down to this audio interface from Focusrite.

This encompasses all the great features of audio interfaces and VST plugins in one place. 

Method 4 – Phones And Tablets

How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

It sounds weird to say that you can use your phone or your tablet to play your electric guitar. But, bare with us because you absolutely can do just that. 

You will have to spend a bit of money on the sort of kit that allows you to hook your instrument up to your smartphone.

But, if you want to go down that route, there are a few different types you can look at. 

In short, you’ll need something called an amp simulator, which you will have in the form of an app. This is alongside the simulator itself.

With this two step process, you will be able to connect your guitar up to your smartphone or your tablet and use your standard headphones to play your music. 

This option is good for people who travel about a lot with their guitar. For example, if you want to play, but you’re staying in a hotel.

This makes that possible. Let’s face it, you’re more or less guaranteed to get a noise complaint if you hook up your electric guitar to a full amp setup in the middle of a busy hotel. 

A perfect solution for a traveling musician, right? 

We Recommend

IK Multimedia iRig is one of the best options around.

It’s good because it is small and compact and easy to carry about for practices elsewhere. That means it fits in nicely with your smartphone or your tablet. 

Which is great, because that’s the whole point of this section. It’s also simple to use and doesn’t take much figuring out which, again, is always a bonus. 

Method 5 – Multi-Effects Processor

How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

A multi-effects processor is something that adds different effects to your electric guitar sound.

They are intended as a simulation of the sound you get from mainstream guitar amplifiers, and they work.  

One of the benefits, or drawbacks depending on how you view things, is that these types of devices don’t require a computer or any smartphone or tablet to work.

You get a unified experience in one unit. You can connect your headphones and your guitar up to the multi-effects processor and play away. 

But, if you are wanting to hook up your electronic devices, then don’t sweat it. You can do this too. We’re just pointing out that you don’t technically have to. 

When you are finished playing with headphones, you can switch out the output for speakers instead. They are a great little tool for taking along on gigs. 

We Recommend

In terms of products, there are a few good options worth considering. We recommend checking out this one from Zoom.

It’s good because it gives you over 60 different guitar effects to play around with. It even has a 30-second looper that you can use as well.

You get a free app download from the company itself to hook up to the processor, which is always an added bonus. 

It takes the stress away of having to research a good app to use. And, most importantly to this guide, it’s ready made for your headphones. 

Common Questions About Playing The Electric Guitar With Headphones

How To Play The Electric Guitar Through Headphones

Now we have gone through the methods, let’s take a look at some answers to common questions.

It can take a lot of research to find the right fit for what you want to do. Let us ease that burden a bit by compacting some of the most common queries into bite size answers. 

How Do I Know If An Amp Has A Headphone Jack?

Product descriptions don’t always provide this information. And, it can also be glaringly absent from reviews of the product.

So, how do you know if the amp has a headphone jack? Well, you could look at the pictures. 

There are easy to see details on product pictures nowadays, so let your eyes do the thinking.

You could also look at the company’s original product listing on their website. There are normally more specs and details on an original product listing. 

What Size Headphone Jack Do Amps Have?

This varies between models. However, the general consensus is that the majority of electric guitar amps have 1/4 inch headphone jacks.

Unfortunately, most headphones don’t conform to these standards. 

This is where adapters come in handy. You can buy headphone adapters to enable your headphones to plug in to your amp. They are quite common and not overly expensive. 

Is There A Direct To Guitar Plugin Option For Headphones?

No. Not normally. Most electric guitars won’t have the capacity to directly plug in your headphones.

Electric guitars have jacks for amps, not headphones. If you want to use your headphones, you’re going to have to plug them into an amp or other options as discussed above. 

Can I Use Bluetooth To Connect My Headphones Up To My Guitar?

Yes. You can do this. It will require a bit of knowledge, and some specialist kit. If you have an audio interface, this is the fastest way to hook up your electric guitar via Bluetooth to your headphones. 

That being said, it’s not very practical and causes problems such as audio lagging. 

How Many Different Lines Of Audio Can You Channel Through Your Headphones?

As many as you want. Again, this calls for you having the right tools at your disposal.

But, with a proper and efficient audio interface, there’s nothing stopping you playing your guitar and playing music at the same time.

It’s a pretty cool trick, and can be really useful in terms of recording different layers of audio, or even learning along to a song. 

Conclusion

These are just five of the most common ways that you can connect your electric guitar up to your headphones. 

It’s a pretty well established fact that you can’t directly connect any pair of headphones to your electric guitar.

That is not how these instruments are built. They are built to connect to amplifiers, and amplifiers are the best way to make your electric guitar audio shine. 

However, you can still have a great playing session through the use of headphones.

If you’re willing and able to invest in the right kit, there’s no reason at all to make do with subpar audio. You can play quietly and still have the same big sound experience. 

Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘How To Sell A Guitar: The Complete Guide‘.

Howard Matthews