- The Musical Advantages of Soundproofing
- How Do I Limit the Noise from Low Notes?
- Reducing Noise from Mid-range Notes
- Soundproof Your Room to Reduce the High Notes
- Insulate Your Windows to Protect Your Neighbors From Nuisance Noise
- Private Guitar Lessons: Avoid the Noise by Furnishing your Room
- Finally, Electric Guitar Players: Headphones!
The good news is, your child has listened to your advice and finally decided to embark on their new musical career. Now the next step is guitar lessons.
The good news is that they’re practicing the guitar regularly in their room. But the bad news it that they're subjecting you, as well as all the neighbors, to all of their wrong notes. Listening to them strum, fret wrong notes, twang up and down the fretboard, practice raucous guitar chords, power chords, and barre chords, and attempt to play guitar solos - all of this can be fairly excruciating, even for the most loving parents.
Even your own favorite songs can become hellish to listen to when your child has been massacring the chord progressions, the rhythm guitar, or even just the basic chords over and over again. Sometimes, it can feel like your kid's ambition to be a guitar player might not be worth the pain. Cancel the guitar lesson! might be a frequent thought. Or, if only they were so enthusiastic about music theory!
Electric and acoustic guitars can both play a wide range of notes, which can be really low and cause vibrations, or really high and resonate throughout the neighborhood. Having someone in your house learn guitar can be a nightmare for your neighbors - particularly if your kid is learning how to play guitar with an amplifier. But even if they are not, hearing the same arpeggio or major scale being played a hundred times, even on a classical guitar, can be too much.
To protect yourself from lots of noise (not to mention potential complaints from your neighbors) it’s essential to take a few extra steps. Begin by reassuring your kid that their new guitar passion is great. But take some steps for them to play their pentatonic scale, their fingerstyle, and all their guitar tricks in private - and save yourself a trip to the ear doctor.
Today at Superprof we’re explaining how you can limit all the sounds from your child taking private guitar lessons at home.
The Musical Advantages of Soundproofing
Before we consider all of the annoyance that music could cause for your parents, brothers, sisters, and neighbors, let’s start by considering the noise from the student’s point of view.
Why would it matter to the musician?
Here we’re speaking directly to the budding guitarists - you too, inside your bedroom or your practice space, could benefit from a bit of insulation.
Essentially, your sound will be better with a bit of soundproofing around you. By insulating your walls and ceiling, you’ll start to get a much better quality of sound as the sound waves move better through the room.
You’ll also be able to hear your notes more precisely. You'll be able to get a better accuracy in your blues guitar or jazz guitar, in your guitar tabs, and in more complex styles such as fingerpicking. Accuracy is the key to guitar practice - and the best guitar players are the accurate ones (apart from, say, Hendrix, obviously).
For any musician, this is a definite advantage as you’ll be able to hear your playing more clearly. It’s especially helpful if you’re playing guitar, where the notes tend to be higher, or when you are picking out the individual notes in a guitar chord.
Once you’ve bought your first guitar, soundproofing is a good option to consider to help you improve faster. You can play songs to your heart's content, and practice your rock guitar or lead guitar without anyone noticing your mistakes.
It’ll be really good for you to take some guitar lessons and then be able to practice your scales, arpeggios, and chord shapes in a room that has been properly soundproofed. Once your fingers have learned to slide along the strings, your ear will learn to hear all of the notes. But it’s better when you’re hearing them properly.
How Do I Limit the Noise from Low Notes?
If you’ve ever found yourself next to an amp vibrating with bass notes, you can understand your neighbor’s suffering when you’re playing low notes on your guitar when practising for your bass guitar lessons online.
As you know, low notes often cause some major vibrations which are often the source of complaints about noise pollution. If you haven’t installed your soundproofing properly or if you don’t have any, those vibrations won’t just be annoying your family. Even you may end up annoyed, and it may make it difficult to identify the quality of the sound you’re getting in return.
The best advice to counteract the vibrations from your bass notes is to use plywood, about half a foot (at maximum) from your wall. Between the wall and the plywood, we’d recommend adding wool, which will help stop vibrations and kill the sound.
Unfortunately, if you take guitar lessons at home, you’ve probably never had the chance to play guitar in a proper auditorium. Your room may already be a little small, so use the technique below to try and considerably reduce the amount of space you’re using.
If you want to practice your beginner guitar tablature playing in a small room and limit your noise, an easy solution is to make a sound-shield around the room. Once again, we’d recommend using thin panels of plywood, and some wool to go behind the panel. Place your panels up high where the ceiling meets the walls.
This way, your space at the floor level will stay the same, even if you lose a bit of height in some places.
If the noise remains a problem, you can repeat the method in all four corners of the room.
Reducing Noise from Mid-range Notes
When you take guitar lessons for beginners or join a guitar course, one of the most common solutions to reduce the noise are egg cartons. It’s really easy and might seem a bit strange, but it definitely works.
To reduce your mid range notes, egg cartons are perfect.
Of course, you’ll have to eat quite a few eggs in order to paper over your whole ceiling, but the quality/price ratio is still really good.
With your egg cartons on the ceiling, you’ll reduce the noise from your guitar as you move onto higher notes. In any case, the cartons will help break the sound waves, and reduce the overall volume of your playing.
You also get great results if you’re playing and singing at the same time.
Soundproof Your Room to Reduce the High Notes
If you’re taking guitar lessons, you’re obviously also concerned by the noise from the high notes. It’s true for an acoustic guitar, but even more so for an electric one! This one ain't so much about the chord progression practice, but the improvisation and the Clapton solos.
To stop the high notes and avoid bothering your family, the combination of plywood and wool that you put on your walls will also be really useful. But that isn’t all!
You can also protect your floor by using porous materials. To do so, there are two popular options - you could fully carpet the floor, which has the advantage of covering the whole floor. Or you could just put down a thick carpet.
Insulate Your Windows to Protect Your Neighbors From Nuisance Noise
As you progress in your guitar lessons, you will gain confidence with your new instrument.
Joy will quickly take the place of the frustration you felt when you were first starting out and your playing will soon be up to scratch! But as you play more and more, you risk annoying your neighbors, and so it might be a good idea to also do some work to your windows. Honestly, your neighbours don't need to hear you practice your major chord, your chromatic exercises, or your exercises with a metronome. And, blimey, they don't need to hear you tune a guitar either.
There are several options for the budding musician.
For a start you could insulate your hinges. For about $15 you can pick up a resin that will harden and cut back on nuisance noises by up to 10 decibels.
There’s also another option, although it is a lot more expensive - super insulated windows. You can find these from specialist window producers, and they insulate from both heat and sound. They’re made up of a special ‘low viscosity’ glass, a small air pocket, and then soundproofed glass on the inside. This double glazing is made up of two thin pieces of glass, about 4mm thick, separated by sound dampening material that’s 1 or 2mm thick.
There’s also a third option for your windows, and one that's somewhat more affordable - keep the window that is already in the room and just add a second one. Buy a basic window pane, and install it about half a foot from the other window.
In this case, it’s important to be quite careful with the placement of the window - you can’t just install it any which way. If you aren’t careful, the noises will continue and your home-made double glazing won’t make any difference!
Private Guitar Lessons: Avoid the Noise by Furnishing your Room
Take a minute to think about the different soundproofing techniques that we’ve discussed in this article. Will they suffice?
Will your upstairs and downstairs neighbors, your parents, and your siblings be safe from noise? Not really. There’s one thing left to do now that you know how to play the guitar.
What we’re trying to say here, is that even with your soundproofing efforts, some noise is still likely to escape your room or music studio if they are only lightly furnished. It’s especially important if you’re playing the guitar frequently.
The sound waves will continue right through the walls and ceilings, which will still be passing on some slight vibrations. Therefore, it is important to finish your work by placing furniture in the four corners of the room to help break the sound waves.
Finally, Electric Guitar Players: Headphones!
One of the great things about being an electric guitar player these days is that the amp technology is a bit more sophisticated. You don't have to turn it up to eleven to get the desired effect.
Indeed, you can just plug some headphones into the headphone jack! This cuts out sound for everyone, apart from the person playing the guitar!
Whilst this is not a solution that should be used all the time - because it can damage your kid's ears - when you need a break it can be handy. Then they can practice their guitar music and guitar songs, strum their open chords, practice their guitar solo skills and broader guitar skills in peace!
And if you have any questions, one of the advantages of having a guitar teacher is that they can give you advice!
Noise and their problems always have a solution. And a bit of extra work is easily balanced by the advantages of guitar lessons for children.