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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.
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:
Laptop or PC + audio interface
Bass effect pedals or drum machines
Bass Multi-FX pedals (or processors)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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 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.