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how my apartment wrecked my guitar playing


Argali

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As I sit here, bored at work, I realize that the one thing that's had the most significant impact on my guitar playing is the places that I've lived.

 

For the past year, I lived in a second-floor apartment with my girlfriend. She commutes to Manhattan for her job, so she has to be up at 6:30 a.m. during the week. This means that she rarely stays up past 11 p.m., which is understandable. As a reporter, my schedule is much more chaotic, but forumites who live with women can attest that you tend to adopt the wake-and-sleep patterns they do. In my case, if I stuck with my old night-owl routine, I'd never see my girlfriend. And daily sex is a big motivator too. :wave: Anyway.

 

What was interesting about the last year was how radically my guitar playing changed. First, I had to go out and buy a new practice amp, one that was both versatile and had good volume control. I settled on the Vox Valvetronix, mostly because you can control the wattage, and because I wanted to try out a digital modeler. Well, it's a great practice amp. Problem is, before I moved in with Jamie, I lived in my parents' basement for five years. I got used to practicing late at night in my usual bouts of insomnia. But by the time I got my own place, the pace of my life - and my job - had changed such that I wasn't staying awake until 4 a.m. anymore.

 

So I slowly tried to adopt a new system of practicing. I would carve out time after dinner, usually an hour between 8 and 9 p.m., to fiddle around and do whatever. My practice rig was kept in our "office," which was the second bedroom of the apartment. Any guitarist walking into it would think it was a sweet set-up - I had my amp and FX in one corner, flanked by four guitars and hooked up to my Mac via a MOTU 828, just in case the urge to record struck.

 

But it rarely did.

 

Why?

 

I couldn't get over the fact that it always seemed that I was annoying my neighbors any time I played guitar. Jamie never minded; in fact she loved listening to my noodle around and would often give me advice on how to piece song ideas together. But I felt uncomfortable knowing that my downstairs neighbors (there were four apartments below mine) could hear every retarded mistake I made, every weird-ass experiment of "let's turn on all my delay pedals and twist knobs on the Ring Stinger, wheeeee!" To my surprise, it inhibited me. No one ever complained that I was making too much noise, but I couldn't get over it. I started practicing a lot less. I found myself playing my guitar unplugged most of the time.

 

Over this past weekend, Jamie and I made the move back to my parents' house. The decision was a financial one, as we plan to save about $12,000 in the next 12 months as I prepare to take a new job out of state. I'm back in the basement again, which is a very large space, larger than the studio apartment Jamie had in upstate New York two years ago.

 

Tonight I'm wondering - what will happen with my guitar playing? I've returned to a place where I was used to noodling around aimlessly while watching late-night TV. Now I'm living with my soon-to-be fiancee, with two very hectic work schedules. I'm hoping things will improve from where they went at the end of this past year. It's just strange to think that when I was given my own room to play guitar in an ideal set-up, it turned out to be a huge drawback for me.

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whew, i actually read all of that!

about one month ago i moved into a loft that has a built-in recording studio. the owner stops by once a week or so to use it, otherwise the place is all mine. basically, a free studio ina warehouse-style building where no-one
s around to bother w/ loud guitars. :) result? almost no song-writing since i've moved in. whether it's the space or my exhaustion i don't know. i'm still running thru the old numbers, but nothing new is coming. i used to write a lot by just playing around on an unplugged electric while watching TV. now i have a whole studio and don't write a note.
:(

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Originally posted by Argali


I couldn't get over the fact that it always seemed that I was annoying my neighbors any time I played guitar. Jamie never minded; in fact she loved listening to my noodle around and would often give me advice on how to piece song ideas together. But I felt uncomfortable knowing that my downstairs neighbors (there were four apartments below mine) could hear every retarded mistake I made, every weird-ass experiment of "let's turn on all my delay pedals and twist knobs on the Ring Stinger, wheeeee!" To my surprise, it inhibited me. No one ever complained that I was making too much noise, but I couldn't get over it. I started practicing a lot less. I found myself playing my guitar unplugged most of the time.

 

i have felt the same way.the lofi loop junky helped me out alot with this.i would record some stuff hit play walk around the house/APT see how loud it was.i found that alot of times i could have been playing alot louder W/O anyone even knowing.

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I had a townhouse with 1 connected neighbor and I played a fair amount but always worried about pissing them off.
Had to transfer for work to another city and livedan apartment for just over a year and my playing went to almost zero. Now finally have a house and I play a lot more and feel more at ease with the volume and freedom to do whatever the hell I want.
Apartments can blow unless you have great neighbors.

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Dude, your reality mirrors my past two years. I used to live in a house facing eight lanes of highway traffic and could dime my Marshall (100w Club & Country combo) at any hour with no worries. I got to enjoy my tweed Fenders turned up all the way on a regular basis.

Then I had to move out on short notice, and landed in an apt. Nice place, but all of my neighbors are very quiet. I went ahead and picked up a few devices that would allow me to play through headphones, but it isn't the same and it makes me play different.

I miss loud noise experiments too, but I'd hate to piss off the neighbors. No assholes in my bldg, and I don't want to be the first.

Next year will be a different apt shared with my fiancee. One more year of unplugged noodling. We're planning on buying a house in 2007, and a music room will be a given.

Good luck.

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I try to be respectful of the neighbors but I don't let it bother me. 95% of the residents of my building are enrolled in the local college. I just graduated a year ago but still live here. My roomate and I both play...loudly. For 2 years I put up with loud neighbors...now I am the loudest one by far. No one minds at all though. I've told my neighbors point blank to tell me to shut the {censored} up if I ever bother them but they don't. I don't play after 11 on week nights or about 2 on weekends. I bet the people below me secretly hate me but oh well. Did I mention my bass playing friend just moved into the vacant apt. beside ours? :D

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Originally posted by Argali

It's just strange to think that when I was given my own room to play guitar in an ideal set-up, it turned out to be a huge drawback for me.

Ideal setup EXCEPT for not being comfortable to crank it up, which is the killer. I live in a duplex and tend to be a nightowl too. 3am can be such a creative time when you don't have pissed off neighbors banging on the wall.

 

For reasons unknown, my landlord has never re-rented the other half when my neighbors moved out two years ago. Since then being able to crank my amps has been heaven. A Deluxe Reverb on 10 WILL make you a better guitar player! And if nobody's there to hear you, there ARE no mistakes.

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Whats wrong with playing w/head phones on late at night, and during the day playing w/out the head phones?

Try playing a recording through your amp like someone else mentioned, see how high you can crank it untill its noticable.

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Originally posted by ronin32

Whats wrong with playing w/head phones on late at night, and during the day playing w/out the head phones?


Try playing a recording through your amp like someone else mentioned, see how high you can crank it untill its noticable.



My apt bldg is as quiet as a tomb. Friends that have visited notice it, comment and don't even talk loud when they're here.

Funny thing is a good friend of mine used to live in the bldg next to mine ten years ago. His rig consisted of a `74 Twin Reverb on top of a Fender 4x12 loaded with EVM-12L's. He received noise complaints every month but never had the cops visit.

I can say this - if one of my neighbors played music that I can't stand (such as gangsta rap or Albanian folk music) at disturbing volume, I'd go knock on his door and have words with him. Trust me, the last thing you want to see is a guy dressed up as one of the Banana Splitz banging on your front door, visibly intoxicated and pissed off - think of a lone Jehovah's Witness, only half as bright and four times as persistent.

But thanks for the suggestion! :thu:

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I'm currently in almost the exact situation. Living with my girlfriend, who loves it when I play, but I share a wall with a couple that is expecting a baby, and there's just no way I can get my tube amp revved up without being a total ass. Before I was living in a house for two years near a college campus and could play as loud as I wanted at most reasonable hours. Also had a friends piano over there so we could jam out, and over the summer my roommate brought his drumset over so it was total jam bliss with no worries about noise.

I have a J-Station that I used the last time I was in an apartment, but after getting to use my Blues Jr. cranked all the time its just not the same at all, totally uninspiring. I've thought about getting a Hotplate to quiet it down so I can record with a mic, but since I'm going to be sharing a wall with an infant soon I doubt even that will be acceptable.

I think what I need to do is try and focus just on working out songs and not worry about tone for a while, and worry about getting good recordings down when I have a place (or even the time with a full work/school schedule :( ) to do what I really want.

The biggest thing in my case is probably shifting back into being a solitary player instead of jamming with friends all the time. I'm also thinking about saving up for a good quality 12-string acoustic and focusing on that side of my playing for a while.

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Originally posted by Wilbo26


I think what I need to do is try and focus just on working out songs and not worry about tone for a while, and worry about getting good recordings down when I have a place (or even the time with a full work/school schedule
:(
) to do what I really want.



I think you're right about this. It's just hard to get used to compromising on tone when I've historically been so anal about it.

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