Can You Play Electric Guitar Without An Amplifier?

Playing an electric guitar through an amp is all part of the experience, but is it necessary to use one 100% of the time? This article will discuss why playing with an amplifier isn’t always required and encourage you to spend some of your practice time with one, and point you in the direction of some resources that can help you find ways to enjoy playing with an amp.

Why It’s Okay To Play Without An Amp

While it’s not optimal for producing volume and tone, electric guitars can be played without an amp, and you can certainly practice and improve while playing unplugged. The only caveat, though, is that it will be a lot quieter, but as long as you’re not in a very loud place, you can still hear the notes you’re playing.

I play this way all of the time while I’m sitting at my desk writing articles like this one, and sometimes I’ll mess around on my guitar while I’m watching some TV shows. So it’s perfectly fine, and I honestly enjoy it, and if you like doing this too, you can continue doing so.

This doesn’t mean that you should never play without an amp, though; you’ll still want to practice through one regularly so you can get a clearer picture of how you sound with one, especially with effects, like distortion.

If you very rarely play with an amp, it’ll be a lot harder for you to hear the flaws in your playing, and therefore, correct them. For example, if you practice using distortion, you can learn to mute your strings more effectively and clean up unwanted noise.

There are many reasons why people choose to play electric guitars unplugged, such as laziness, concern for disturbing family members or neighbors, or they simply don’t have one at this time.

If any of these are holding you back from playing with an amp, as you continue to read, I’ll share a couple of convenient ways you can do so.

Find A Practice Amp With Headphone Support

If noise is an issue that is preventing you from using an amp, the most logical solution is to get a little amp with a headphone jack so that only you can hear what you’re playing.

Practice amps are great for this because they’re affordable and are designed solely for your personal use. Nowadays, the majority of them have headphone capabilities so that you can play without worrying if you’re bothering anyone else.

Check out this guide here to find some that sound great without breaking the bank!

Essentially, a small amp is preferred because you won’t need the extra power from a large one to be heard – if you use headphones while practicing,  it’s just going to go directly to your ears.

Play Guitar Through Your Computer

Amp modeling technology is very advanced nowadays, and many recordings and live performances are carried out using amp simulators.

While this might not be on your agenda right now, amp sims are becoming a popular way to practice at home because they can emulate high-end amps at a fraction of the cost, and they’re pretty easy to get started.

All you need is an audio interface, like this Focusrite Scarlet 2i2, and a couple of pieces of software – a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and the amp sim itself.

This method is another way you can practice guitar with headphones. You plug your guitar in the audio interface with an instrument cable and connect your headphones to it or your computer. Afterward, you should hear what you’re playing if you’ve set it up correctly.

If you want to learn how to record guitar directly into your computer, this is the best way to do it; however, if your only goal is to practice your guitar playing, going with a small amp will still be a cheaper and simpler option overall.


There isn’t anything inherently wrong with playing the guitar without an amp, and you can do it often, but you shouldn’t neglect it if you can help it. If you have to use headphones, then, by all means, go for it! 

The tones you receive from the amp can be very inspiring and something you don’t want to miss out on while learning the electric guitar. That being said, if you still like to play unplugged frequently, that’s cool too!

Just be mindful of the benefits of each and practice smart, and you can enjoy the instrument to its fullest.