The best way to practise bass quietly in an apartment is to connect the bass to a headphone using an audio interface. This allows you to hear the bass effects and play hard without anyone else hearing it. You can even practice at night with headphones.
I am currently living in an apartment and have the same problems as you. What worked best for me is to use an audio interface and a pair of headphones.
It’s also possible to practice bass with an amp while living in an apartment. You just need to contain the resonance by making sure the amp is not touching any floor or bed post.
In this article I am going to talk more about playing bass quietly (especially in an apartment). I will also discuss more about playing bass without an amp: is it bad to practise this way?
If you are learning bass and need to be quiet, you must absolutely finish reading this article.
Can You Play Bass In An Apartment?
It is absolutely possible to play and practise bass in an apartment. The best way is to use an audio interface and practise the bass through headphones – or you can play the bass acoustically to practise some finger drills.
If you absolutely need to practice bass using an amplifier, then make sure the amplifier is not in contact with any wall, bedpost or floor. Otherwise. The resonance and sound can easily be carried to the next rooms.
Playing bass in an apartment using an amplifier is also possible. It really depends on how thick the walls are. From my experience, practicing bass in an apartment is okay as long as your housemates are fine with it.
The bass sound can usually be heard in the next rooms but it won’t be loud enough to penetrate until your neighbor’s house (depending on how hard you play, of course).
If you live in an apartment that has been converted into more rooms using drywall, then playing bass will definitely be a nuisance. Thin dry walls are not good enough to contain the sound of bass – especially the resonance. It can definitely be heard.
To be safe, download any sound measurement app for your smartphone and take some measurements on a quiet day. These apps simply use your phone’s microphone and display some sort of decibel meter or frequency response graph.
Measure yourself by speaking in a normal tone, or a normal conversation, or the TV, for example. for news broadcasts at your usual listening volume.
Then measure your instruments as you normally would (both plugged in and unplugged). These readings will take the guesswork out. You can also use the meter while gaming at night to be extra sure.
Just remember to keep your phone the same distance from any sound source you’re measuring, say a meter from you, a meter from your TV speakers, a meter from your guitar, etc.
I highly doubt that an unplugged guitar or bass will be louder than a normal conversation, but measurement will tell you for sure.
Can You Learn Bass Guitar With Headphones?
Unfortunately, you can’t connect your regular headphones to your bass guitar directly because the signal is not amplified enough. Normal headphones do not have the necessary hardware to amplify this bass signal.
That said, you could use an audio interface to connect your bass directly to headphones. You plug both the bass and your headphone to the audio interface – and using an amp modeler app like deplike, you should be able to play bass through the headphones.
Related article: Is Audio Interface Better Than Amp: Differences & Sound Quality
This simple setup should allow you to play and learn bass directly using your headphones. No amps or loud noises required!
One more thing, if you have a “Direct Monitoring” switch, turn it on when playing and tracking your bass. It sounds better and without latency. You may also need to mute the bass track in Logic so you don’t get a smack back in this case.
The audio interface I use:
Is It Okay To Practice Bass Without An Amp?
It’s definitely okay to practice bass without an amp. You could use an audio interface to play bass through your headphones or simply play it acoustically without an amp.
With any of these approaches, you can learn a lot about bass scales, chords, and general musicality, and you can get your fingers going and build endurance.
Rhythm can also be practiced unplugged. Some bass players prefer to work on their timing by playing unplugged in opposition to a music track so as to better hear the recording and feel the timing through the tips of their fingers.
Also, playing without an amp can help build calluses on your fingers because it forces you to play harder.
That said, playing a bass without an amp or (amp modeler using audio interface), you won’t be able to learn about tone, volume, and how you sound in a room. These are crucial skills to acquire.
You can get a relatively cheap audio interface at $60 – $100. I would say it’s worth it to get them for practice.
Is It Bad To Play Bass Guitar Without An Amplifier?
Playing bass without an amplifier is not bad – you can still learn finger techniques and a lot of theories. However without an amplifier, there will come a time where you hit a wall and reach a plateau on your bass skills.
I personally have practiced bass without an amplifier. I can’t carry my amps around everywhere, mainly because my amps are too big to have here and it would annoy the neighbors.
When you practice without an amp, at least in my experience, I tend to pluck it a lot harder to hear what I’m doing. That also means that my left hand was always using more pressure than was required also.
These things will cripple your speed and sound also because I was always using a really hard attack which loses a lot of finesse on making your tone.
Hopefully, this article will help you keep practicing your instrument of choice, even if you have to be quiet.
Spending even just a few minutes a day making music is a rewarding experience with physical and mental benefits that go far beyond your musical abilities. When volume keeps you from enjoying your instrument of choice.
On the other hand, others feel that having to play very hard just to hear yourself when practicing unplugging hurts your technique and slows your learning, namely when it comes to controlling your dynamics and tone.
You’ve got one life, why waste it without any fun? Practice your bass skills and slay the world.