Can You Play an Electric Guitar Without an Amp?

If you are concerned about being too loud when playing an electric guitar, there are many options. Can you play an electric guitar without an amp?

9 ways that you can play an electric guitar without an amp are as follows:

  1. Smartphone
  2. Computer
  3. Guitar multi-effects processor
  4. Headphone
  5. Guitar headphone amplifier
  6. Guitar multi-effects pedal
  7. Speaker system
  8. Micro amp
  9. Play the electric guitar without amplification

Unlike an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar is designed to be played with an amplifier. If you plug your electric guitar into one of these devices, you will hear the sounds that it will produce. However, they won’t project as much volume as a real amplifier. But that’s good if you don’t want to disturb other people.

Alternatively, you can play the electric guitar by itself, without an amp; however, the sound will be quiet.

Read on to learn about the many ways you can play your electric guitar without an amp.

Can You Play an Electric Guitar Without an Amp?

can you play an electric guitar without an amp

You can definitely play your electric guitar without using an amplifier. There are many devices to plug the guitar into that will allow you to hear the amplified sound of the electric guitar.

A good electric guitar will make a sound even if it is not connected to an amplifier. The sound will naturally be quiet, but you can still hear the sounds that it will produce. However, an electric guitar is not made like an acoustic guitar, so that it won’t sound good without an amplifier.

See these 9 ways to play an electric guitar without plugging it into an amp:

1. Smartphone

iPad or iPhone Users

If you need to mute the sounds coming from your electric guitar, an iPad or iPhone is a worthy alternative to an amplifier. You have to use an app to make it work, and there are many great apps available online.

Some examples are Amplitude and BIAS FX. You can use these apps for practice and for recording your guitar works.

A great feature of the Amplitude app is it tries to simulate various brands of amplifiers. You’ll be able to hear the popular amplifier models’ sound through your headphones so you won’t disturb your neighbor

For iOS Device

To use your iOS device as an alternate amp, you have to get an instrument input device for guitars, such as the iRig HD 2. This is the best way to use your iOS device as an amp for your electric guitar.

  • Plug your guitar electric cord into this device;
  • Use a USB connector to plug the instrument input device into your iOS phone;
  • Then plug your earphone or headphone on your iOS device. Now you can play away and hear the sounds of your electric guitar coming out of your iOS device.

Android Phone Users

There are also equivalent apps for Android phone users. One app that you can use is Deplike. It is just like BIAS FX in many ways. This is the method you can use if you do a lot of traveling and want to play your guitar on the go.

2. Computer

electric guitar without amp

A computer is one of the best alternatives to an amplifier if you want to play your electric guitar in relative silence. You can connect your guitar to your computer and then use an app that simulates the sounds coming from an actual amplifier.

In this way, you can have the entire guitar rig that you want straight from your computer. You’ll need a USB audio interface to make this method work. It will enable you to connect your electric guitar directly to the USB port of your laptop or PC.

You’ll also require some software that will allow you to play your guitar without using an amp. This software is basically called the Digital Audio Workstation.

Virtual Amp Software

It will provide you with a simulation of a real recording studio where you will be able to record and edit your guitar music. You also need to load your virtual amp software into this DAW.

With this DAW software, you will play your guitar without an amp and record music without using a microphone. You can directly record your songs directly into your laptop. Without setting up solid and heavy hardware, you can enjoy its advantages.

Virtual amp apps are also called amp simulators. They offer different kinds of amp models and brands. Some of the options include:

  • Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier,
  • Marshall JCM 800,
  • Peavey 5150 and many more.

The amp simulators can apply the effects that you want on your guitar. You can also use the DAW to load backing tracks so you can use them in your guitar playing or recording.

3. Guitar Multi-Effects Processor

You can also use a multi-effects processor for electric guitars in place of an amplifier. This is a device that provides various effects pedals and amplifier models. They can provide you the best electrical guitar sounds, though they may be a bit pricey.

Every feature that this device offers is housed in just one single unit. You won’t need any other output device such as a PC or smartphone, or speaker. It has an option, though, of connecting it to the DAW station on your computer.

The audio signal quality of these processors is very high. Professional musicians use them instead of physical amplifiers in their demo recordings or even in their musical performances. They can be easily connected to a speaker or a PA system.

4. Headphone

Can you play electric guitar without an amp? Of course, you can play an electric guitar without an amp. As an alternative, you can use a headphone.

Headphones can be used in the absence of an amplifier to hear the sounds from your electric guitar. You can use a smartphone to do this. But you can’t directly connect your guitar to the input port of your phone.

You will need an audio interface that you should connect to the input port of your smartphone. Then you will connect your electric guitar to this audio interface. And then connect your headphone to the speaker port of your smartphone.

Once the audio interface is connected to your smartphone and your guitar to the audio interface and your headphone to your mobile device, turn up the volume, and you will hear the sounds coming from your electric guitar.

5. Guitar Headphone Amplifier

Another alternative to amplifiers is the guitar headphone amplifier. Technically, it is an amplifier, but it is not an amplifier in the way that typical electrical guitar amplifiers are.

This tiny device is powered by a small battery that you can plug directly into your electric guitar.

You can then plug a headphone into this device so you are the only person who can hear the sounds coming from your electric guitar. This is a neat way to have your cake and eat it too. You can practice all the time you want, as loud as is possible, without disturbing anybody.

Since they are tiny devices, these headphone amplifiers cannot produce excellent quality sounds even if you have plugged in the most expensive Gibson, Fender, or Gretsch into it. It cannot function as a real physical electric guitar amp.

These small devices are really just for practice, especially when you are traveling. You can throw it inside your gig bag and use it once you are ready for practice or jamming. With this device, you will have no cable and set up hassles.

6. Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

can you play electric guitar without an amp

You can also use a multi-effects pedal if your neighbors are neighing because of the rambunctious sounds coming from your electric guitar. This musical foot pedal has a port where you can plug your headphone so that you will be the only person who can hear your electric guitar.

  • The way to do it is to plug your electric guitar into a multi-effects pedal;
  • Then plug your headphone into the port provided in the pedal;
  • You can also plug a speaker directly into this port if you want to produce big sound volumes; and
  • You might need a headphone port adapter if the pedal’s port only accepts 1/4″ headphone jacks. With a multi-effects pedal, you have all the range of sound effects that you may want your electric guitar to produce – without breaking the eardrums of your neighbors.

7. Speaker System

If neighbors are not a problem, you can connect your device to a speaker system and hear real active sounds from your guitar. While the sound is not exactly amplified, it will be close to it.

If you already have a speaker system, you can use it for your electric guitar instead of an amplifier. The speaker system could be part of your stereo or cinema surround system. You can use the speakers of this system instead of buying a separate amp for your electric guitar.

Just locate your audio system’s input port and connect the electric cord of the electric guitar into it, and you’re good to go.

However, be careful in doing this because if you are into rock music and is fond of maxing out the volume from your electric guitar, you can overshoot the receiving capacity of the electronics in your audio system and speakers. In other words, you could blow your speakers and audio system.

So, be sure that your audio system and speakers can handle the intensity of the signals that your electric guitar can produce. If you have expensive audio and speaker system, perhaps you can also afford to buy a good electric guitar amplifier.

8. Micro Amp

Playing electric guitar without an amp should not be a problem since there are a lot of alternatives such as a micro amp.

A micro amp is simply a small speaker that is powered by a battery. It has a tiny amp that ups the input from your electric guitar up to a certain extent only. You can even use the microamp with your headphones, so it will be tranquil as you play your electric guitar.

If you choose a good quality micro amp, it will provide you with good and clean electric guitar sounds. You can listen to the sounds in shallow volumes with its tiny speaker or with your headphones.

There are micro amps that can easily fit in your pocket, and there are relatively bigger micro amps that you can put on your tabletop and use for practice or jamming anytime you feel like doing it.

Other micro amps have eliminated the speaker. Therefore, you can plug them directly into your electric guitar, then plug in your headphones in the appropriate jack, and you can play away in silence to those near you.

But with the headphone in your ears, it will seem like you are using a real ear-shattering amp.

9. Play the Electric Guitar Without Amplification   

You can always play your electric guitar without amplification. If it is a branded guitar, especially if it has a hollow body, you can still hear the sound that it will produce. It may not be as loud as you would want it to be, but you can still hear the sound it produces.

Even solid body electric guitars such as Fenders and Les Pauls will produce quiet sounds when you strum or pluck their strings. This is, by far, the easiest way to play an electric guitar without using an amplifier.

Can you play an acoustic-electric guitar without an amp? You can play an acoustic-electric guitar even without an amp since the guitar will play like a standard acoustic guitar. Thus, there really is no need to plug the guitar into an amp.

Conclusion: Can You Play Electric Guitar Without an Amp?

You can use several devices to play your electric guitar without using an amplifier. Plug your electric guitar into any of the below devices, and you will hear the sound just like you would hear it with an amplifier. Alternatively, you can play the electric guitar by itself, without an amp; however, the sound will be quiet.

  1. Smartphone
  2. Computer
  3. Guitar multi-effects processor
  4. Headphone
  5. Guitar headphone amplifier
  6. Guitar multi-effects pedal
  7. Speaker system
  8. Micro amp
  9. Play the electric guitar without amplification