How loud can I play?

Discussion in 'Playing' started by ElectricSaga, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. ElectricSaga

    ElectricSaga Bearded person

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    Hi there. Noise regulations in Germany state that during the day I can be somewhat noisy (within reason) and at night everything must be "whisper quiet". From what I found online, this translates to noise levels of around 55 - 60 db during the day and 35 db at night (measured from inside a neighbor's apartment). The apartment building I live in is pretty well insulated, I can barely hear my neighbors. On the other hand, they're all pretty cool with music and some of them actually play (bass, piano, even drums!).

    What I've been wondering is how much volume I can get away with without upsetting them. Mostly during the day, at night everything is SO quiet I simply use headphones. I THINK a regular conversation is somewhere between 65-68 db, and an acoustic guitar played with fingers, around 80 db. One time my former neighbor had a "Wohnzimmerkonzert" (small living room gig) that could easily be heard throughout the building, but it involved 2 acoustic guitars, 2 voices and in some songs a mandolin, all played very loudly with picks. Very likely more than 80 db! This same guy used to play country and jazz loudly on his Tele + tube combo (sometimes it was louder than our TV!) but noone really cared, I think music sounds are always welcome.

    Have you had any experiences playing guitar in an apartment or a quiet area? With decent house insulation, what amount of noise reduction can I expect? Eg. play at around 85 db, and the floor and walls will soak up to ... 20 - 25 db? The inner and outer walls in my apartment building are THICK.

    I suppose I could go and talk to everybody but I suspect they won't care much as long as the walls and windows don't start shaking. There's one complicated neighbor who's a bit... unstable, and I'd just rather avoid them.

    So go ahead and share your stories and tips.
     
  2. cat-the-odd

    cat-the-odd On the other side of your screen

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    Well, well.

    - Your neighbours are musicians. That's GREAT!
    - What gear do you want to use? What style of music at what playing skill level? This will modify the tolerance level.
    - Put your combo or cabinet on a stand/chair to decouple it a bit from the floor/walls. Bass frequencies like to travel along those to other rooms.
    - Do your 'loud' practice at daytime. There is an allowance in daily time for musicians to practice, legally. You should be fine. Use headphones at night.
    - Learn songs quietly until you know them - this will help the process.
    - If you're desperate to 'feel' the wall of sound, have one time slot per week (or so) that you agree on with your neighbours. You can blast your ears to Mt. Bleedom when everyone is out anyways. Go on an try a few 'loud' practice sessions and approach your neighbours afterwards to check with them how annoyingly fricking goddamn childwaking loud it actually was.

    Prost!
     
  3. ElectricSaga

    ElectricSaga Bearded person

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    Yeah I think everyone (except the difficult person upstairs) are sort of "alternative" people.

    I am currently using a very small combo with a multieffects unit which I have played somewhat "loud" (as in cranked up TV loud). It obviously doesn't have the same frequency response of a larger (eg. 1x12) speaker which should arrive tomorrow.

    As far as gear goes... I just ordered a Dark Terror + 1x12 and I normally play something like "heavy" blues, 80s metal, doom metal and melodic death metal. It's hard to assess my own skill level but I can comfortably go up and down the neck playing scales at around 180 bpm or 200+ bpm with economy picking. Sometimes I mess up and/or hit the wrong note, which is why I practice. I also love pinch harmonics (+ whammy bar) :dance:

    I don't think they will want to put up with my thing as much as they did with my Fender clean, country guitar neighbor. In comparison I'm very noisy.

    Good idea. I have my amp on a rug at the moment but raising it further might help with the larger cab. I'm not a professional musician but I suppose that allowance covers playing an instrument for any reason :)

    When I play I normally: 1) practice scales and try to build up my speed and technique 2) come up with what I think are cool sounding riffs and practice those 3) jam with myself: record a basic track with a looper and then improvise a melody on top of that for several minutes at a time. So mistakes are bound to happen. I could however reserve some higher volume days for when I'm well rested and inspired.

    Thankfully there are no small kids around but the difficult top floor neighbor is always there. Supposedly music is "OK" though. I just don't want to have anyone knocking on my door, especially not the police trying to confiscate my beloved gear. But yeah I guess communication is key.

    Since you're in Germany, how do you do it? I truly miss living in a house now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  4. cat-the-odd

    cat-the-odd On the other side of your screen

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    I have family. So I'll be able to practice only at night time. I use my THR10 and headphones to hammer songs into my brain. Weekly band practice ensures some "loud" times.

    Cheers!
     
  5. ElectricSaga

    ElectricSaga Bearded person

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    Ah, band. I get away with early evening practice when I come home from work, three or so times a week. Otherwise also only at night. I only have my neighbors to worry about, my wife actually wants me to play.

    Other than waking up a sleeping child, what's the problem with playing moderately loud if you have a family?
     
  6. doctorpaul

    doctorpaul Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full. Staff Member

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    The idea of agreed crazy-loud sessions is a good one.
    Agree a regular time if you can, and stick to it.
    It is GOOD (in fact, a necessity) to feel your trousers flapping from time to time.
     
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  7. Robstafarian

    Robstafarian The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus” Staff Member

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    1. Ask the neighbors you trust whether they would allow you a brief visit to test volume levels.
    2. Buy a decent, A-weighted decibel meter.
    3. Use that meter for all of your measurements.
    4. At the agreed time, play some program material (i.e. an album) at your desired practice level.
    5. Go to your preferred distance away from the source, analogous to your typical position relative to your cab, and measure the sound pressure level.
    6. Visit each of your trusted neighbors, and take measurements from the positions they indicate.
    7. Write down the measurement positions, measured levels, times, and date—if you can, add temperature and relative humidity.
    8. If you can reasonably do so, it would be good to have your neighbors sign and date your notes (e.g. alongside the measurements taken in their respective apartments).
    Whereas the above almost certainly exceeds your legal responsibilities, I would prefer to have a record of having demonstrated consideration and professionalism.
     
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  8. DrHankWanfordSnr

    DrHankWanfordSnr That's not new, its always been there.

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    Word of the day - "Wohnzimmerkonzert"
     
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  9. ElectricSaga

    ElectricSaga Bearded person

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    All good suggestions. I suppose a decibel meter "app"** is not quite as reliable? I think I will visit the neighbor living below me and have a friendly conversation about volume vs. comfort levels. The crazy one upstairs, well... I'll let you know if anything happens.

    You have no idea. Germans have words for a whole list of things you didn't know needed names (then again new words can be created by stacking other, existing words).

    ** Ugh I hate the word "app"...
     
  10. DrHankWanfordSnr

    DrHankWanfordSnr That's not new, its always been there.

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    my favorite german words are gemütlich and kummerspeck

    some cool ones -http://hellogiggles.com/10-fabulous-german-words-english-equivalent/
     
  11. Robstafarian

    Robstafarian The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus” Staff Member

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    Accurate calibration is essential; if you can find a truly accurate app for your phone (which I expect would have to be an Apple device specified by the app's creator), then use it.
     

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