The Woodshed

Tech idiot needs help with practice.


The only time I can practice is when my kids are sleeping. I have a tiny house so acoustic guitars are to loud. I need to hear the music and the guitar. I can plug headphones into my amp or my computer. I can't plug into both at the same time. I need to hear the song on the computer or my phone while I try to figure it out on the guitar without waking everybody up.

There has to be a simple solution.


See my Silent jam thread. 4 inputs. One could be your music source, the other your guitar and two more if you want them.


Bob, did I mention that I'm an idiot? I'm gonna try to work up something like that. I miss playing my sparkle jet.


Hey man, I plug my earbuds into my phone or computer and put a set of cans over the top pugged into my amp. Adjust volumes to suit!


I picked up a Boss JS8 a while back. Headphone outlet, Guitar input, USB MP3 player built in, COSM modelling of more amps than I thought existed. It even has one setting with enough reverb for "40 Miles of Bad Road".

I can jam with my entire group (recorded to the MP3) under headphones and the only sounds in the room are the strings (um-amplified) and what my wife calls my "heavy metal breathing" (which I do try to control- sometimes)

There are other relatively inexpensive devices out there that do the same thing. Of course, so does Bob's, but I'm too tech-challenged to build my own these days.


There are a lot of small transistor guitar amps like the Vox DA3 that allow you to plug in a stereo music source like a computer or MP3/CD player as well as your guitar so you can listen to both at the same time.


I usually connect my guitar to the computer and then use software amps and effects. Then I can play mp3, Youtube etc. parallel as backing track. For this you need some audio interface to plug your guitar and then some audio software (e.g. Logic, Garageband, Sonar, Cubase,...).

This can be complex if you are not familiar with any of those software. In that case some hardware solution as suggested by others is probably easier. Some practice amps have line input, so you can connect mp3 player or computer to it to hear the backing track together with guitar.

  1. I think you need something that can mix the headphone out from the computer with the headphone out from amp.

[You may be able to use a line-mixer to do this, but there isn’t a specific device I can find to do it.]

  1. Or you can find an app where you can plug the guitar into the phone or computer.

  2. Or, a lot of amps have an auxillary input.

  3. Alternatively, you can plug an output from the amp into your phone or computer.

UncleGrumpy, what amps are you wanting to use? What’s your phone?

“I picked up a Boss JS8” - Kevin Frye

The Boss BR-800 can be had used, can do a lot of the same stuff. It may not be very user friendly.


Bob's and Wabash and Kevin's solutions are the simplest. Those little Vox headphone amps that plug directly into the guitar are probably the most simple.$45.00, they go on sale for $30.00 ocasionally as Wabash suggested. Plug into guitar, it has headphone jack 1/8" and low line input 1/8" for your music source. It has a volume and a reverb setting and a distortion setting.

Vox Headphone amp


I think Dave’s solution is the simplest. I used to do this with a Scholz Rockman fed by a Walkman, rubber banded together and hanging off my belt. I could go for a walk and play along with my current favorite music.


Those Rockman's were great. I still own one but loaned it to someone years ago. Can't remember who.


Yamaha THR10. Aux and guitar in, phones out. Simple and sounds good.


Those are really nice. Wish I had one.


This came along with some cash in a partial trade involving an old bicycle and a box of parts. Probably the only time in history I've bartered well.


Grump, the Vox amplug just might be the ticket. If you're looking for something with a little more oomph, look into the Quilter MicroBlock 45. It's the size of a Boss pedal, has aux and headphones; but the kicker is that it is a real, honest-to-goodness, 45 watt guitar amp head. And they can be had for around $150.00.


UncleGrumpy, Google "Vox AmPlug AC30 G2 Guitar Headphone Amplifier" ($45). I've been using one for the past year or so, and I love it. It's a small unit that has a 1/4" male jack, that plugs into your guitar. The 1/4" jack can swivel 180°, to accommodate any guitar, even a Stratocaster. It has a 3.5mm (1/8") AUX input for plugging in your computer, phone or MP3 player. The unit has built in effects, Drive, Chorus, Reverb, and Delay, and sounds remarkably good. You'll need to buy a 3.5mm (1/8") cord, with a male plug on each end, to hook up your phone or computer to it out of the headphones output from your computer or phone. Amazon has these cables for a few dollars.

EDIT : It looks like Suprdave and AndyJ beat me to the punch, but I believe that this may be a great way to solve your problem.


Any of the Hotone Nano Legacy series mini-amps also has aux input, phone jack - and will drive 4, 8, or 16 ohm speaker cabs. With effects loop.

They’re serious little 5-watt amps in whatever amp type you like, and highly recommended (by me anyway). I have the British Invasion (very very Voxy), Mojo Diamond (stupid name, but covers American/Fender clean tones), and Purple Wind (Marshallesque). All loads of fun, often well under 100.00 used on Reverb.

For best playing satisfaction, I’d want a reverb in the effects loop. Good reverbs are also small and cheap these days.

A more all-in-one solution is a Vox DA-5 mini practice amp. Also 5 watts, 6” speaker for when you can, a dozen or so amp models (several more than good enough), a nice complement of fine effects, headphone jack (of course), and battery power for playing in the woods. I think it’s discontinued, but on Reverb for under 100.00. I used mine for motel room playing when traveling (until I started playing through my iPad), then I gaveloaned it to my brother. I actually kinda miss it, though, because it sounds so good - so easy and so portable and so versatile.

EDIT: No DA-5s on Reverb at the moment, but Ebay has you covered with several - including one in camouflage built just for you!


May I suggest something somewhat different. A Samson G-Track USB microphone has everything you need in addition to being... a microphone.

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