How To Play Electric Guitar Without Amps

Playing electric guitar without amps is a skill many people don’t know about. Many are under the impression you need to have an amp to play electric guitar, but this isn’t true. There are multiple ways to play electric guitar without amps and in some cases it could be more beneficial for your skills as a guitarist. This article will discuss how you can use different techniques to play your guitar without amps. This is not just for beginners who have never played before, but also covers intermediate players that want to learn something new or improve on what they already know.

How Does An Electric Guitar Make Sound?

Electric guitars are just like acoustic guitars in the way that they aren’t plugged into an amp when being played. Electric guitars create sound by using magnets which produce vibrations through the strings. The vibration of the strings causes the magnet to move, resulting in signals being sent down a guitar lead to an amp to be amplified. Without an amp this process still occurs, however the sound isn’t amplified.

This is where different techniques can be used to create sounds on your guitar. The main technique for playing without amps is by using a technique known as ‘looping’. There are multiple methods of doing this but they all involve creating a loop with either an audio lead or a guitar lead. This allows you to play electric guitar without an amplifier and record the signal as it is played.

Why Do You Need To Buy A Guitar Amp?

Although you may think you need a guitar amp to practice, this isn’t always the case. Guitar amps are great for home practice as it allows you to turn up the volume and hear yourself play. A good amplifier can also help with improving your sound, however many amps come at a cost.

Guitar amps aren’t cheap and will set you back a lot of money if you are buying one for home use. Instead, guitarists can opt to buy headphone amps which are much cheaper and are only designed to be used with headphones. This allows you to practice without disturbing anyone else in the house, not to mention it saves some money.

play electric guitar without amp

How To Play Electric Guitar Without Amps

With the right equipment, you can play electric guitar without an amp. You can do this for any performance situation. Whether it’s to practice at home or rehearse for a concert hall, here are some methods to consider.

Use a headphone amp

If you’re playing in the same room with others, or if you want to keep your practice more private, get yourself some headphones for electric guitar. Make sure they are closed back headphones that will help reduce how much sound escapes into the room around you. This way, you can play without an amplifier and not bother  anyone.

Headphone amps are great because they can help reduce noise from your headphones. They also provide a flatter EQ curve, which is one that’s closer to what you would get in the studio or with an amplifier and speaker cabinet in general.

Play through a home stereo

For this particular technique, plug your guitar into the auxiliary input of a home stereo, or any amp with an auxiliary input. Make sure you set the guitar’s volume control to zero and the stereo to a low volume so there’s not too much of a difference in volume between your playing and what comes out of the speakers. This way, you can play electric guitar without amps while still hearing yourself play through other speakers

Use Your Computer

If you have a computer handy, play through that. It’s best if your computer is close by so you can monitor yourself as you play. Also be aware of the noise level in the room where you are playing, if it’s too loud it can distort your sound. If this is your first time doing this type of thing on your computer, download a free or demo version of one of the various recording software programs out there.

These programs enable you to plug in your guitar and start playing right away. You can also plug a microphone into your computer to record vocals or acoustic guitar. If you have a built-in mic, it will probably be low quality and may not pick up what you’re playing accurately. If you don’t want to mess with recording software, there are freeware programs that allow easy playback of music through your computer’s speakers or headphones.

play electric guitar without amp

Use The Auxiliary Input Of A Home Stereo System

If you have a home stereo system, try playing through that. In this way, you can play play electric guitar without amps. Generally speaking, the auxiliary input will be much louder than your headphones or computer speakers because it is connected to the main speakers of your system. It’s best if you can control the volume though so it doesn’t overpower what you’re doing. Avoid using the record out or tape in jacks, as they can often produce a lot of noise. These connections are designed to send an exact duplicate of what is already heard through your stereo system.

Play Through Cabinets And Add Amps For Volume

If you’re comfortable playing with a high volume and don’t care about disturbing others, plug into one or more cabinets and add your own amplifier to the mix. This allows you to add as much volume as you like and also mix up the tone with your own amps. If you don’t have an amp, no problem because there are plenty of cabinets to choose from. Cabinets vary by size and sound, so if you buy one make sure it’s compatible with your playing needs.

Play Through An Amp With A Headphone Jack

If you have an amp with a jack for headphones, you can still practice without having to use headphones. Plug your guitar into the amp and connect a pair of headphones into the jack on the amp. Make sure the amp is not mic’d up because you don’t want to hear whatever the other speakers are putting out. The sound from your guitar will be projected into the headphones, allowing you to play without an amplifier.

While these methods can get you by in a pinch, it’s best if you eventually purchase a good quality headphone amp. There are plenty of portable ones available with a variety of features. Just make sure the headphone amp you get has an EQ function, as it will allow you to control your bass and treble.

Amplifier Recommendations

Bestseller No. 1
VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier
  • AC30: Provides the AC30 top boost sound
  • No need for a guitar cable! Plug it directly into your guitar and use with headphones
  • A folding plug mechanism that rotates 180 degrees lets you adjust the angle to match your guitar.
  • An AUX input jack lets you enjoy jam sessions with your MP3 player.
Bestseller No. 2
LyxPro 40 Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier | Combo Solid State Studio & Stage Amp with 8” 4-Ohm Speaker, Custom EQ Controls, Drive, Delay, ¼” Passive/Active/Microphone Inputs, Aux In & Headphone Jack
  • HUGE SOUND FOR EVERY SETTING | Powerful 40W Combo Amp Turns Up Your Electric Guitar Like Never Before with Custom Equalization, Passive/Active Inputs, Adjustable Drive, Digital Delay & Multiple Output Options for Stage Performance, Studio Recording, Outdoor Concerts, Home Practice & Other Musical Applications
  • EXPLOSIVE 8” 40-WATT SPEAKER | 4-Ohm Impedance Delivers Clear Treble, Booming Bass, Excellent Current Resistance & Reliable Frequency Response for All Kinds of Demanding Instrumentals | Master Volume Control Allows for Wide Functionality Ranging from Intimate Solo Play to Thunderous Live Concert Output
  • PITCH-PERFECT EQUALIZATION | Built-In Equalizer Settings Help You Achieve Diverse Tonalities for Every Style of Play Including Boost (On/Off), Variable Distortion (Gain), Digital Delay (Time/Repeat) & Treble, Middle & Bass Adjustment (0-10) | Turn the Knobs for Clean, Clear Guitar Sound or Gritty, Blown-Out Playback in Overdrive
  • 3 UNIQUE LISTENING EXPERIENCES | In Addition to the Amp’s Built-In Speaker, Enjoy a Variety of Output Options to Suit Your Exact Setup Including a ¼” Headphone Jack for Private Listening & Line Out Port for Plugging Into Larger External Speakers, PA Systems, Mixing Consoles & Other Recording Gear | Power Cable Included
  • TAKE THE SHOW ON THE ROAD | Highly Capable Guitar Amplifier is Super Durable & Portable, Measuring 17” x 8.5” x 13.5” & Weighing Just 25.37 Lbs. for Travel Ease | Features an Integrated ¼” Microphone Input & Adjustable Mic Volume So Singers & Players Can Plug in Together—Great for Live Gigs, Street Performances & More

Different Types Of Guitar Amps

If you want to buy a guitar amp for yourself, it is important to know the different types of amplifiers that are available. Even if you do have money to buy a high end amplifier, it is still good to know what amps are available before making your final decision.

There are several different types of guitar amplifiers available and all have different features depending on the manufacturer. Guitar amps can come in various different shapes and sizes, some may be designed for home use while others are made to be portable. No matter what style of amplifier you want, there is sure to always be one that will suit your needs.

Rack-mounted Amplifiers

A rack mounted amplifier is an amp that is designed to sit in a rack. These amplifiers are often used in recording studios so the operator can switch between different settings quickly and easily. A majority of these amps come with LED lights on the front of them so you know which settings you are using when switching between presets.

Portable Amplifiers

Portable amplifiers are just like their name suggests. They are designed to be carried from place to place and can even be taken on the road with you during a gig. Most of these amps come with rechargeable batteries and many also have USB connections so they can be charged up using your computer or laptop.

play electric guitar without amp

Smaller Amplifiers

Not everyone has room for a big amp in their home, especially if you live in a small apartment. This is why there are smaller amplifiers available that can be used as an alternative to a full sized one. These amps have much less volume and aren’t designed for gigging or live performances. However they are great for practice at home without disturbing the neighbors.

Headphone Amplifiers

Some guitarists may not want to invest a lot of money into a home amp and this is where a headphone amplifier can be useful. A headphone amp only has the speakers built in the amplifier itself so you have to plug headphones into it in order to hear yourself play, similar to how an acoustic guitar works. As well as this, you can also connect the headphone amp to your computer using an audio lead and record your playing.

If you are just starting out learning how to play guitar, it is important that you consider all of these options before making a purchase. You might find that buying headphones instead of an amplifier is much cheaper and means you don’t need to worry about disturbing anyone.

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Amplifier

There are different types of guitar amplifiers. It is crucial for you to select the right one based on your needs at that time. There are many things to consider when choosing the best guitar amplifier which includes price, wattage, functionality, speaker size, durability and others. Here are some important factors that you should look into to find an amp that’s perfect for you.


Guitar amps have different wattage. It is best for beginners to choose a lower watts amp rather than higher watts. There are amplifiers with low and high watt power suitable for practice, recording and stage performance.

Power of the amplifier based on its wattage will depend on how loud it will be. Generally, the higher the wattage means the louder sound it can produce. When it comes to volume, finding an amplifier with low watts is ideal for home use and practice purposes while if you are looking for a high power one for stage performance or recording, then getting a high watts amp is best.


There are amps that are expensive but there are also cheap ones. Amp price may vary depending on wattage, type of amp, brand or sound quality. You must know the basics of guitar amps before shopping because the price will affect the level of your performance. It’s best to purchase an amp within your budget range so you won’t have a hard time using it and won’t regret your purchase later.

Types of Guitar Amplifiers

Before you start choosing an amp, you must first determine the type of guitar amplifier that you need. There are several types to choose from such as tube amps, solid state amps and modeling amps. Tube, solid state and modeling amplifiers have distinct sound quality that you can choose from.

Tube Amplifiers

This type of amp has an organic sound with dynamic warm tones. They are very popular because they create a natural distortion when played at high volume. Tube amplifiers are expensive to own but the benefits outweigh their cost because it has better sound quality, durability and longevity compared to other amps in the market.

Solid State Amps

This type of amplifier creates a more electronic and crispy sound. It has excellent control and is generally used by professionals for recording or effects purposes. For beginners, solid state amplifiers are also good but not as much as tube amps in terms of sound quality. They’re also cheaper than tube amps which makes it more available to newbies on a budget.

play electric guitar without amp

Modeling Amplifiers

This type of amplifier is the most common in use today because it replicates amp tones, effects and other unique sounds. It is also more affordable than tube amps but provides good quality sound like any other expensive amps. A modeling amp acts as an all-in one package which can be used to practice, play or record. Since it has built-in effects, it’s also good for live performances.

Inputs and Outputs of Amplifiers

When purchasing an amplifier, you should also check the inputs and outputs because this affects how it is connected to other devices. Some amps have XLR or 1/4″ jacks while others have USB connectivity. There are also amps that have MIDI inputs. Ensure to purchase an amp with the right type of input or outputs to be able connect with your devices and play music.


The last thing you should do in choosing the right guitar amp is to check its durability. Whether it is solid state, tube or modeling amp, you have to look at its materials for it not only has good quality sound but also built to last. Check if the cabinet of the amplifier is made of wood or metal. It’s also important that turn on/off and standby switches are strong enough since they will be used for a long time.

How To Use Your Amp Effectively

Start by getting to know all its parts and how it works because this will enable you to understand more about your amplifier. Knowing how it works will also help you in controlling the different types of effects that it can produce present in amps today. Aside from that, checking out online tutorials before using your amp is also essential.

While playing, you must make sure that the sound of your guitar and the amplifier mixes together. The volume of each should match too such as low-volume sound on both amp and guitar. If you want to produce high volumes of sound, it is best to set them at lower levels first then gradually increase them.

Playing with your amplifier is not just about choosing the right sound but also knowing when to do it. Knowing when to play loud or soft will produce different kind of tones that you might want. You can try playing around with amp tone, effects and volume knobs in order to get the best out of it especially if your amplifier comes with a tone dial.

play electric guitar without amp

Frequently Asked Questions

– How do you play electric guitar on a computer?

Many software programs offer modeling amps and effects so you can play electric guitar without amps. There are a number of free and paid programs available online, with downloadable packages ranging from $2-25. Others who do not want to download anything can just plug their electric guitars into their sound card using an input jack extension cable.

For those with less expensive instruments such as children’s guitars, or those who just want to experiment with things like recording themselves playing guitar for fun, most computers come equipped with built-in microphones that will suffice for this purpose. The microphone simply plugs into the microphone jack at the front or side of the desktop or laptop’s monitor. You might need an extension cable if they do not have a microphone jack available.

– How long does it take to learn guitar without an amp?

It all depends on how much you practice and if you have a good teacher. You can start learning right away by first watching or listening to tutorials about playing the guitar, followed by practicing what you learned. However, to play well you should set aside at least 30 minutes a day to practice. You can also try going to a guitar center for lessons if you have the money.

– How do you connect a guitar to an amp without an amp?

The simplest way is to use a direct box, which can be purchased online or at music shops. The device will allow you to plug the guitar’s output directly into the mixer or computer interface. You can also use a preamplifier depending on your type of guitar. For example, most electric guitars use either a magnetic or piezoelectric pickup. Magnetic pickups can work with most amps and preamps directly, while piezo-based models need a special preamp to bring out their unique sound.

– How do you play electric guitar without amps and only headphones?

You can use a modeling amplifier, which comes in both pedal and rack form. These devices will process the sound of your guitar digitally to produce virtually any type of sound imaginable. You can either set it with headphones for private practice or use an audio interface to plug it into speakers or a PA system.

– What is the best way to play guitar without an amp?

It really depends on your preference and what you need it for. If you just want to learn how to play guitar, then anything will do as long as you can hear yourself play. On the other hand if you’re playing in a band and wish to practice your guitar at home, you should invest in a guitar amplifier. It will help your practice sessions be more productive and you can save money by not having to go to the studio every day.

– What are some things to buy for playing guitar without an amp?

A great way to start practicing is by downloading a tab or chord chart app. This will provide guitarists with access to almost any song they want to learn. There are also free tutorial videos on YouTube, which you can follow using your smartphone or tablet. You can then add an effects pedal to your setup in order to simulate the sound of a guitar amplifier.

However, if you truly want to play electric guitar without amps, it will be best for you to get yourself a modeling amplifier. These devices are great when used with headphones and can even be plugged into your computer and used for recording and practicing songs.

– How do you connect an electric guitar to a PC without amp?

It really depends on your budget and how good you want the sound to be. If you only care about recording yourself for fun, then simply plugging an electric guitar via a 1/4″ input jack into your computer’s sound card will suffice.

However, if you want something that sounds great and can be used for practicing or performing, then you should get an amplifier that has a USB out instead of standard audio jacks. This will allow you to plug it directly into your computer and use guitar amp simulators like Amplitube and the free VST Amp Rack without problems.

Here is a tutorial video on how to play electric guitar without amps.


Playing guitar without amps is a great way for a lot of people to practice at home, or in the case of a concert hall rehearsal. If you can’t do either of those things, check with your local music shop for information about renting out their practice rooms. If all else fails, you can get a modeling amplifier and play through your computer or audio interface.

Hopefully this article has helped you learn how to play electric guitar without amps. Remember that practice makes perfect and even when you do have an amp, practicing silently is still a good idea.

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