Hey, Would You Mind Turning It Down??

If you're like me, you don't live alone.  Sharing space means compromise, and if you're a guitarist (or you just live with one) then you know it also means practicing quietly.  Nowadays I look back with nostalgia on the times when I was a teenager and living at home with my parents when my father would yell at me in the basement to turn down my guitar, but at the time there was nothing more irritating than being asked to play quietly.  Doesn't he understand?!  If you want to sound like Jimmy Page your amp needs to be turned up LOUD!  Living in a large city for my entire adulthood has meant adapting to apartment living,  and that means no more playing loudly for me.  That said, I have found clever ways to never compromise on my tone and still keep things quiet.  Here's a list of equipment that I use at home to play quietly while still maintaining great tone.

Roland Go Mixer

I was first introduced to this device by a good friend of mine while we were away on a gig.  I needed to learn some last minute material in my hotel room and my friend suggested I borrow his "mixer".  He handed me this device, and I was completely blown away!  The sound quality of the Roland Go Mixer and the way that it makes practicing with headphones in a hotel room feel like you're playing in an arena is just amazing.  I highly recommend this to anybody looking for fun ways to reduce the volume of their practice setup.

Roland Go Mixer Pro

When I went to my local music store to purchase my own Go Mixer after my experience borrowing my friend's, they only had the Go Mixer Pro which is a little bit fancier, and I decided to buy it and check it out.  I cannot say enough about this particular device.  I use this thing for playing in my apartment, for teaching Skype/Zoom/Facetime lessons, and I've even used it as a recording interface before.  This mixer is super compact, and is powered by your phone!  By plugging your guitar and your cell phone into this little mixer, you have the ability to listen through headphones to your guitar and any music or metronome or media playing on your phone at the same time, with separate volume controls for each device.  You can even plug a vocal mic into this as well using a normal XLR cable.

Quilter Labs Interblock 45

After messing around for awhile with my Roland Go Mixer Pro, I really got tired of the sound of my guitar plugged directly into the mixer.  I knew I needed some eq options, and maybe some gain control.  After attempting to use some effects pedals I already owned at home like my eq pedal, a compressor, some dirt boxes, I learned about the Quilter Interblock amp.  This thing is the size of a guitar pedal, and at 45 watts it can even power a 4x12 cabinet if you need it to.  This amp has all the eq settings I was looking for, and a gain and master volume as well.  It also has some speaker emulation output settings if you're going straight from this into the Go Mixer. 

TC Electronic HOF Reverb

The one thing my sound was missing after picking up the Quilter Interblock 45 was reverb.  I'm not sure why, but reverb pedals are one of those pedals that can be very personal, and I'm usually surprised by how picky I can be about them.  The list of reverb pedals that I really love is pretty small, but the TC Electronics Hall Of Fame is definitely on that list.  It's funny how practicing using headphones almost requires that some reverb be present in your signal, and the HOF will provide that in a musical and really wonderful way.

Radial JDX Direct Drive

The last thing that my guitar goes into before getting to the Go Mixer Pro is this Radial JDX Direct Drive.  This box is a speaker emulator and DI box of the highest quality.  I've even seen guitarists use this pedal for live performances at the end of their pedal board to send a signal using an XLR out straight to the front of house!  For me, I really love that it has settings that emulate a 4x12 stack, as well as a brighter combo amp sound.  Not only is this pedal a great addition to any low volume practice setup, but I also think it's a well kept secret to an effective noiseless stage setup.  

Thanks for checking out my experiences with at home quiet practicing rigs!  I hope that this information is helpful to you on your journey with the guitar.  As always, feel free to comment or reach out if you have any questions or concerns.  Take care and stay safe, and please if you could just turn it down a little bit thaaanks!

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