I remember the time when I was moving into an Apartment and my biggest fear was how can practice my guitar without disturbing my neighbors?
Do we everybody like the lovely sound coming out of our acoustic guitar?
Is acoustic guitar too loud for an Apartment? The acoustic guitar produces loud sounds that are often heard from the thin walls of apartments. Depending on the size of the guitar and playing style, loudness varies significantly.
The loudness of any unplugged guitar depends on many factors from the size of the guitar to the type of strings you’re using. Also, I mention some hacks here which allow you to play guitar in low volume, and even quietly.
Without any further ado, let’s get straight into the matter:
How to Determine the Loudness of your Acoustic Guitar?
There are many points that contribute to the overall volume of any unplugged acoustic guitar. If you ever wonder why some guitars are louder as compared to others, Here’s your answer:
1. Guitar Body Size
The soundhole of an acoustic guitar is majorly responsible for the volume of an acoustic guitar. The more the body size of a guitar, the more air will go in and out in the soundhole, results in more potential for loudness.
That is the reason why Jumbo size guitars or Dreadnought guitars are usually louder than compact concert size guitars.
But remember, this is not any kind of hard-n-fast rule! Along with the size of a guitar, its material also plays a crucial role, which brings me to my next point.
2. Material Used and Construction
You might be already familiar with the names like Rosewood, Spruce, Mahogany, Maple, Cedar, etc. These are the most commonly used wood material in an acoustic guitar.
Each wood has its own characteristics, from thickness to density, everything varies from material to material. That’s why each wood has its own unique sounding tone.
As per my experience, Acoustic guitars with Spruce top are a bit louder than others. Again, this is not a thumb rule. Let’s check another important factor:
3. Gauge of Strings
From the Style of playing coming towards the gauge of the guitar strings, Heavier gauge strings generally give you a louder sound as compare to light gauge (10s or 11s) strings.
The thicker the strings, the more amount of vibrational tension it can bear, results in louder volume from the guitar.
Along with the gauge, the material from which guitar strings are made also impacts the overall loudness of your sound. Personally, I think bronze, brass, and phosphor bronze strings are louder than steel strings or silk strings.
Everyone has a different playing technique. The amount of pressure you apply while plucking or strumming also impacts the volume of your guitar.
If you’re using a heavy thick pick, guitar sound becomes warmer and louder, similarly lighter strings give you gentle action and a kind of little brighter tone.
Along with that, the angle at which you’re hitting the strings also matters. If you play mostly by fingerpicking, your guitar sound will be significantly less as compared to the one who bangs heavy strumming.
5. String Action
The Action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Lower the action of strings on your guitar, it will become easier for you to play, as less pressure is required to fret notes.
Talking about volume, the higher your string action, the louder your guitar will be going to sound. because there is more free space for the strings to vibrate.
If you’re playing guitar for quite long a time and understand different parts of it, you can lower the action of your guitar strings on your own. But, if you don’t know anything about this, I strongly recommend you to visit your local guitar shop.
The average decibel rating of an acoustic guitar is 70-80 dB. Decibel rating depends on various factors including the size of the guitar body, the material used, and playing style.
Also, the decibel rating depends on the types of strings you’re using on your guitar. Steel strings guitar will produce louder sound as compared to the nylon strings, which are usually played with fingertips.
Here’s one piece of data that shows how decibel rating depends on your playing style.
Heavy strumming with Pick: 75 dB
Light Strumming with Pick: 65 dB
Light Strumming with Fingers: 60 dB
Playing Fingerstyle: little less than 60 dB
I hope you get the basic idea related to the loudness of your guitar. But, the main question that remains is, How can you practice your guitar in an apartment without disturbing others.
Tips to Play your Acoustic Guitar Quietly
These are some of the tricks and hacks that will allow you to practice your acoustic guitar any time at any place you want. (#3 is the best and my personal favorite method)
1. Play Without using Pick
This is the simplest way to make your guitar sound lower and you might already know about this. When you pluck the strings with your fingertips instead of pick, it will give you much less volume.
Now, depending on the music style you play, this may or may not be the issue for you. But, if you can play guitar with your fingertips, it will be going to make it quieter for sure.
Also, while playing guitar with your thumb and other fingers, you feel the strings and you can adjust the pressure on them and thus the volume of your guitar according to your need.
This brings me to my very next point:
2. Use Light Gauge Strings
The thickness of the strings impacts both the playability and tone of your guitar. Lighter the gauge of the string, lower the volume you’ll get as compare to the heavy gauge strings.
Also, lighter gauge strings enhance your playability as they are easy to bend and feel less bulky while playing, especially to a beginner player.
Extra-Light gauge: 0.010
Custom Light gauge: 0.011
Light gauge: 0.012
Medium gauge: 0.013
Heavy gauge: 0.014
Although Light gauge strings are not going to give you a fuller sound than medium gauge and heavy gauge strings, I always recommend experimenting with your gears.
Try a different set of strings and find out your sweet spot where you also get a nice tone and lower sound.
3. Try Muting the Strings
This is so far the best method to lower the louder sound of your acoustic guitar in a very easy and convenient way.
All you have to do is, Place a softer object under strings near the bridge of your guitar. This will reduce the vibration of the strings and ultimately lowers the volume of your guitar.
And the best part about this method is, you can use any household item from your sock, paper towel to a sponge lying in your home.
Along with lowering the volume, it also gives a unique tone to your sound. you can experiment with different items at different positions around the bridge. Also, Instead of placing any object, you can try muting the strings with your palm.
4. Cover the Sound-Hole of your Guitar
When you strum any pattern, vibrations of the strings are made louder in acoustic guitar by resonating them throughout the guitar body. And, if you cover the sound-hole of the guitar, vibrations will not resonate as much thus result in lower sound.
All you have to do is, buy a soundhole cover from any brand you trust, and simply put it on your guitar. It doesn’t even require any kind of modification in your instrument. Check out this very affordable cover by D’Addario on Amazon.
However this method is mainly used to reduce the feedback and not going to lower the sound much, but if you try it by combining it with other ways, this will definitely work for you,
Final Thoughts on Loudness of an Acoustic Guitar:
Whether you’re living in an apartment or due to any other reason, if you want to lower down your guitar sound and practice acoustic guitar quietly, the hacks I mentioned above definitely going to work for you.
Peoples who lived next to you have the right to live peacefully and it is always great to respect their side and try to keep the sound level to a minimum as you can.
These tips help you to lower the guitar volume and allow you to play your music without disturbing your neighbors.
I hope you like this small article! If you think this article helps you to solve your issue, Do let me know your valuable opinions in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family on your social handles.
Hii, My name is Vishal Dorge and I am from India. I am the Creator of this site and want to help people just like you and me who enjoy music through the heart and want to learn it, especially about the guitar. Read More About Vishal Dorge Here