Can You Plug Headphones Directly into a Guitar?


You are a guitar god! Well, that’s what you’re striving for. Unfortunately, your neighbors, roommates, or parents don’t agree with your vision or tastes in music. Once you plug in and begin to strum, neighbors pound on the walls, roommates begin arguing with you or parents rush in yelling to turn that crap down!

On a technical level, yes you can plug a headphone set into your guitar, but it will be a fruitless endeavor. You won’t be able to hear anything at all. And no, they don’t design any guitars where a headphone jack is a featured selling point.

The main reason why you can’t just plug headphones into the guitar is that you need electricity to make the pickups work. So, this won’t do it.

Here are are some easy ways to plug headphones in while you practice your guitar. It may help to give peace of mind to those in your immediate vicinity who loathe your guitar playing.

Get Quality Headphones First

Please be sure to do your research and acquire a topnotch set of headphones before plugging them into anything. You will want ones that are studio-recording quality with a standard jack. They should be 3.5 mm with a ¼ inch cable.

Make sure you can afford them too. They can start around $30 and be as much as $1500 or more depending on the style and model you want.

Also, make sure the cord length will suit your purposes and the space you intend to play in. Don’t get too long of a cord if you’re going to be in a small area. This will prevent you and anyone else from tripping and keep things clear of discombobulation.

There are a ton of great quality headphones you can use. My personal favorite is the Beyerdynamic DT 770. This is a headphone that is very popular among music producers and has a pure sound and is comfortable to wear in long practice sessions.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

1. Guitar Headphone Amplifiers and Pocket Amps

Guitar headphone amplifiers allow you to plug a set of headphones right into the guitar. They provide the electricity necessary for the pick ups to work and small enough to fit in your pocket.

They just attach to the body of the guitar and you plug your headphones in at the opposite end. That’s it! No hassle! A definite plus when resolving domestic issues regarding you and your guitar playing.

There are a couple of different products available that are cost-effective and easy to obtain. Vox and Fender have some interesting selections worth looking into. Boss Katana, Laney, and Yamaha have ones you should consider too.

You’ll have to look around and see which one is right for you and your budget. They can be as little as $10 or cost as much as $100 or even $300, it depends on what you’re looking for. The kind and type of model you choose will depend on the style of music you play.

Classic rock and metal have some very sought-after designs and options. If you are one who plays with sound and noise, like Buckethead, then you may want to invest in several different ones. For blues and jazz, a standard one will suit you fine.

2. Plugging into the Amp

If your amp has a socket for headphones, then you’re in business! This is the most obvious way to achieve Zen with those living around you who find your taste in music offensive to their sensibilities.

For amps without it, you may need some kind of adapter so it fits right and proper. Anywhere from 3.5mm to 6.5mm is typical. But there are a couple of things to be aware of here. This is because your ability to consider this as an option is specific to the type of amplifier you have.

There are two kinds of amps: solid-state and tube. If you have a solid-state amp, then you should be okay to get the adapter. You will just have to get one designed for headphones so that the jack will fit.

But if yours is a tube amp, you’re going to run into problems plugging the headphones in. Without getting too technical, know that it may result in frying your amp which means no more playing altogether. You don’t want that and will have to explore other avenues.

3. For Bluetooth Headphones, Use Your Smart Phone

No, you can’t plug your guitar into your smart phone and you shouldn’t even begin to try. But, you can get a guitar amp simulator. There are many are available on the market and you’ll want to look into each one before buying them.

They come with software that gives you an amp-like interface for use with your smart phone. You plug the simulator into the phone at one end and then your guitar into the other. Then you will want to activate the Bluetooth mechanism.

There are a few downfalls with having this though. And these may prove to be more frustrating than just going ahead and letting people at home be insane.

Android users will have fewer options than those with an iPhone. This could be more annoying for you.

This kind of setup is also pricey, but not “expensive.” Expect to make an initial investment starting at $100 that can be as much as $1500 or even $2000 and more.

Also, you won’t be able to use your regular amp with this. So, if you’re going for a specific sound effect when you play your guitar, this may not translate well when you do get to play your guitar through it.

For example, let’s say you have this kind of contraption when you practice at home. But, when you go to band practice and use your amp, everything you practiced sounds different or doesn’t have the same feel or vibe as it did at home (or vice versa).

This can result in lost of wasted time, practice and effort. It could mean dealing with band members scowling at you, thereby creating even more problems.

4. Try Using a Digital Effects or Multi-Effects Pedal Processor

Many guitar enthusiasts who love to experiment with sound and noise will more than likely have one of these lying around. Manufacturers designed these with headphones, guitars, and pedals in mind. So, it’s a perfect solution.

All you have to do is plug it in with a standard jack and, voila! Peace and quiet for everyone else while you get to jam out.

If you don’t have this, then expect something of an investment into getting one as they can can come with a heavy price tag. They can be as little as $200 and go as high as $3000 or even $5000.

Consider getting one of these anyway if you play metal, country, blues, rock, jazz or even flamenco. The sounds you’ll be able to generate will be unusual and unique, giving you a special touch that other guitarists may not be able to deliver. This means you’ll have that “edge.”

The Other Solutions if All Else Fails

Hopefully, using headphones resolve all your domestic woes in one fell swoop. Sometimes, though, strumming without an amp can and will annoy the pants off of some people. This will be the case if you share an open space like at a hostel or because the apartment walls are paper thin, for example.

It could be that some people, like neighbors and roommates you didn’t select, will never be happy with anything you do. They’ll find whatever fault they can and you won’t ever be able to please them. If this is your situation, you may have to find another avenue to play your guitar.

This will depend on your circumstances, what you can afford and the kind of tension you experience. If strumming your guitar bothers people, it is possible to create a silent guitar out of cardboard and pretend to play it. Yes this is a very lame option and won’t be anywhere like actually playing your guitar.

You could also schedule to rent some studio time at a place that offers such a thing or at a school in your neighborhood. You could also inquire about the place where you hold regular band practices. See if it’s possible to come and practice on your own with an agreed schedule and length of time.

Keeping Yourself Open to All Possibilities

Playing guitar is rewarding and making music you love connects you to something larger than yourself in an almost religious-like way. Because of this, consistent and regular practice is essential to getting good and becoming fluid with little effort.

Unfortunately, our living situations and the people within them may often not agree. It can be downright difficult to find the practice necessary. Using headphones can be very useful in your pursuit and effort toward domestic bliss.

Know though, this isn’t guaranteed and you’ll have to keep yourself open to all options – even making a guitar out of paper if you’re determined enough.

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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