Can You Plug Headphones Into A Bass Guitar? (6 Solutions)

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  • Can you plug headphones directly into a bass guitar’s output jack?
  • How can you use headphones with your bass guitar?
  • Here are 6 ways to use headphones to practice an electric bass quietly.

The electric bass guitar is a quiet instrument by itself. It is tough to practice the bass without any amplification.

Every newcomer or student has spent a moment wondering if it is possible to plug headphones into a bass guitar output jack. Will the bass guitar be audible? Is this a viable way to practice the electric bass quietly?

Some of you may have tried and failed, wondering if you missed a crucial step. Why doesn’t it work the same way as it does with guitar amps? How can you use headphones with a bass?

This post deals with those queries and other questions you might have on this topic.

While you’re here, you might also want to check out our guide on how to plug headphones into an electric guitar.

Can You Plug Headphones Straight Into A Bass Guitar?

You cannot plug regular headphones into the bass guitar’s output jack as headphones cannot amplify the bass guitar’s output signal without some help. The headphones will muffle the unplugged sound of the bass even further.

Why Can’t You Plug Headphones Into a Bass Guitar’s Output Jack?

So if connecting headphones to bass is a futile expedition, what is actually stopping you? There are two reasons why nothing happens:

  • An electric bass guitar does not have a built-in amplifier or speaker and
  • Regular, off-the-rack headphones don’t have a built-in amplifier either.

In other words, the instrument needs some form of amplification. Headphones or earphones are not designed to amplify sound, but your bass amp is.

If you want to use headphones for silent practice, you first need to plug them into the ‘headphone out’ or ‘phones’ socket of a bass amp or a device that can amplify the sound.

Aside from using the headphone output on your bass amp, here are some other ways you can use headphones with bass:

  1. Headphone amplifiers
  2. Laptop or PC + audio interface
  3. Bass effect pedals or drum machines
  4. Bass Multi-FX pedals (or processors)
  5. Pocket or mini amps

How To Practice Bass Guitar Quietly (Without Bass Guitar Amps)

Nothing beats the guttural growl or resounding thump of a groove blaring through a bass guitar amp. But, what options do you have to play the electric bass guitar quietly or if you don’t own an amp at all?

Many of us inhibit small apartments or practice late at night. In both cases, blasting the bass through an amp is not a socially acceptable option. Fortunately, there are a number of ways around this.

Here, we discuss six options – ranging from inexpensive to pricey – with handy product recommendations. Pick and choose according to your needs and budget.

1. Get a Bass Headphone Amp

A bass headphone amp is a tiny battery-powered amplifier that can replace a bass guitar amp in many scenarios. It works with any regular headphones or earphones. Simply plug the headphone amp into the jack of your bass guitar and plug the headphones into the headphone output jack.

Voila, this relatively inexpensive ‘middleman’ enables you to practice anytime, anywhere. If you aren’t sure which bass headphone amp to buy, these are my three top recommendations

  1. VOX AP2BS amPlug 2 Headphone Amplifier
  2. VOX AP2BS amPlug 2 Headphone Amplifier
    $54.99

    The Vox amPlug Bass G2 headphone bass guitar amplifier will help you nail your bass tone, giving you some massive low end - despite the fact that it occupies virtually no space.

    Why We Love It:
    • Has a great range of sonic variation
    • Good battery life
    • Compact
    View Price on Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater
  3. Blackstar amPlug2 FLY Headphone Amplifier
  4. Blackstar amPlug2 FLY Headphone Amplifier
    $54.99

    Thanks to Blackstar’s amPlug2 FLY, your practice sessions are about to get a whole lot more interesting. You get the great sound of a Blackstar — just plug in and you get amazing guitar amp tones right in your headphones.

    Why We Love It:
    • Amazing tone in a tiny package
    • Ultra-portable
    View Price on Guitar Center View Price on Amazon
  5. Donner Bass Guitar Headphone Amp Basement Pocket Amplifier
  6. Donner Bass Guitar Headphone Amp Basement Pocket Amplifier
    $26.99

    Providing an excellent experience for bass guitar players, the Donner Basement is a pocket-size headphone amplifier that'll let you plug and play anytime in the day.

    Why We Love It:
    • Rechargeable lithium battery
    • Super compact
    • Clear and clean sounding
    View Price On Amazon
    05/22/2022 08:51 pm GMT

2. Use a Bass Multi-FX Pedal Like A Zoom B3n

All modern bass multi-effects pedals have a headphone out. You can play the bass by connecting headphones to such a device. It’s an excellent resource to practice quietly and eliminate the need for a bass guitar amp.

A multi-FX pedal has other advantages too. You can use it for amp modeling, adding effects, and connecting to a laptop to record bass parts among other things.

Zoom B3n Bass Multi-Effects Pedal
$208.61

Zoom's B3n bass multi-effects pedal takes all of the complexity and frustration out of getting a great bass tone. The intuitive, stompbox-style layout of the B3n lets you use this multi-effects bass pedal like a traditional pedalboard. 

Why We Love It:
  • Easy to adjust your sound and effects
  • Advanced control options
  • 67 stompbox effects
View Price on Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater

Nevertheless, don’t buy a bass multi-FX solely for this purpose. They are not cheap and they have a learning curve. Secondly, bass multi-FX units need a power source. They are not as convenient or portable as headphone amps.

But if you already own one or plan to get one in the near future, it’s one of the best options to practice bass silently. Plus, it will give you access to a wide range of effects and tone shaping. While we’re at it, don’t forget to check out our roundup of the seven best bass multi-effects pedals.

3. Use a Bass Preamp or Bass Effects Pedal with a Headphone Out

Continuing with the same idea as above, you can use a bass preamp or pedal to plug in headphones and practice bass. Bass players generally own an overdrive, fuzz, or compressor effect pedal. Many of these, though not all, have a headphone out and/or an aux-in.

The headphone-out of such pedals is handy for bedroom practice without a bass guitar amp, simply power the pedal and plug in the bass and headphones. You can now practice quietly with or without the effect.

A bass preamp is a compact way to amplify the bass signal for home practice or live scenarios. It is can also be used to plug directly into a computer and sculpt your tone. Here are 3 bass preamps we recommend. Also check out our thorough roundup of some of the best bass preamps available today.

  1. Tech21 SansAmp Bass Driver
  2. Tech21 SansAmp Bass Driver
    $249.00

    This multi-function, multi-application pedal dials up big vintage tube tones, bright modern slap sounds, gnarly distortions, and all in between.

    Why We Love It:
    • Great in both studio and stage use
    • Warm tone
    • Built to last
    View Price on Amazon View Price on Sweetwater
    05/22/2022 11:05 pm GMT
  3. Ampeg SCR-DI Bass Amplifier Preamp
  4. Ampeg SCR-DI Bass Amplifier Preamp
    $249.99

    Bass players have sought the legendary Ampeg tone for decades, and now you can tap into it in a convenient preamp pedal with the Ampeg SCR-DI. 

    Why We Love It:
    • Ultra-Hi and Ultra-Lo tone shaping
    • Create iconic Ampeg bass amp tones
    • Smart connectivity
    View Price on Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

4. With the BOSS WAZA-AIR Wireless Headphones

BOSS WAZA-AIR
$449.99

Waza-Air combines BOSS’s cutting-edge wireless technology, ground-breaking spatial technology, and premium sounds from its Katana amplifier series into a personal practice system unlike any other.

Why We Love It:
  • Immersive and full sound
  • Cutting-edge 3D algorithms
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
View Price on Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

The Boss Waza-Air headphones are the epitome of wireless bass amplification. These headphones are designed specifically for bass players, delivering wireless connectivity in a compact over-ear system to practice with an immersive and full sound.

The Waza-Air headphones have a gyro sensor for 3D ambiance, an accompanying app, and Bluetooth audio streaming. Besides headphone amplification, you get access to bass amp modeling, 30 effects, 10 acoustic drum grooves, and a metronome.

Bear in mind, these headphones cost more than a mid-market bass guitar amp. Nevertheless, they are a one-stop solution for a portable practice setup for those who can afford it.

5. With a Laptop or Computer

You can practice bass by plugging it into a laptop or PC with an audio interface. The setup may need additional gear such as a DAW, cables, and converters.

We have already covered what is an audio interface and how to use it. For a free DAW, you can use Adobe Audition or Garage band.

Personally, I use a laptop, Scarlett Solo audio interface, and Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro for home playing and recording. This is a cost-effective solution if you want a utilitarian home recording setup.

Any half-decent headphones or computer speakers will suffice. Headphones are better unless you have exceptional computer speakers. The low-frequency sounds of bass can be demanding on entry-level products. Brace for distortion if you crank up the volume.

6. With A Mini Guitar Interface (IK Multimedia iRig2)

IK Multimedia iRig 2 Guitar Interface
$79.99

The IK Multimedia iRig 2 Guitar Interface plugs into the 1/8" TRRS jack on your device, sending your guitar or bass signal to your favorite effects or recording app, and returning the stereo output to your headphones.

Why We Love It:
  • Portable and compact
  • Affordable
  • Versatile
View Price on Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

iRig2 is one of the most popular plug-and-play audio interfaces. It is a portable and compact solution to plug a bass (or other instruments) into smart devices.

The device is compatible with an iPhone, tablet, iPod, or Mac. The latest version has cross-platform compatibility, which makes it a viable option for Android users.

iRig2 is a versatile and affordable device to practice/play with headphones without a bass guitar amp. It can be used to practice quietly, record, and jam (with a suitable setup).

You can pair it with AmpliTube to gain access to modeled amps, cabinets, and effects. In a word, AmpliTube acts as a top-notch bass multi-FX processor.

FAQ’s

What are the best headphones for practicing bass?

There are several high-quality headphones at different price points for bass players. Sennheiser HD280 Pro, Audio Technica ‘ATH-M50X,’ and Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO are among the best headphones for practice.

You can find more options in our top 5 recommendations for studio headphones under $200.

Can you practice bass without an amp?

You can practice without a bass guitar amp by connecting headphones to a bass headphone amplifier, bass preamp pedal, tablet/PC/desktop, audio interface (soundcard), headphone pre-amp, and multi-FX processor.

The best option however is whatever works for you according to your needs, budget, and playing goals.

Why do bassists wear headphones?

Aside from practice, there are many reasons why bass players wear headphones in concerts, recording studios, and music videos. Headphones are used for foldback, cueing, and monitoring the sound of the bass guitar while recording.

Bass players may also use headphones with noise cancellation as a precaution in loud environments to prevent long-term hearing damage.