Some guitars are flawlessly designed for home practice in the sense that they can easily fall into your lap, allowing you to freely jam without worrying about cables. Most star-shaped axes fall into this category, especially models that feature inputs at the bottom of the body as opposed to directly below the pickups. This is a matter of comfortable playing, so it’s safe to say that it’s entirely subjective.
What’s also true is the fact that all guitars will inconvenience you in terms of cable management. Shorter cables will somewhat dictate your positioning while longer cables will invariably eat away at your signal, introducing a bit of distortion and unwanted frequencies to the mix.
That’s where Bluetooth headphones come into play. Using them will completely eliminate the need to use an instrument cable directly with your guitar and amp. As a matter of fact, using Bluetooth cans will afford you more flexibility in terms of rehearsing and recording, not just practicing at home.
Today we’ll talk about the process of connecting your guitar amp with a set of Bluetooth headphones, the typical problems you want to avoid, as well as a few neat tips and tricks on how to improve your Bluetooth-operated gear functionalities.
How to Connect Guitar Amp to Bluetooth Headphones?
The simplest, most direct, and arguably the easiest way to connect your amp to a set of Bluetooth headphones is through a PC or a laptop as mediating hardware.
Basically, neither amplifiers nor guitars feature Bluetooth connectivity as they are while most PCs and virtually laptops do. All you need to do is simply connect your amp to the laptop/PC via headphone out using a guitar jack-to-USB lead.
Using a Laptop
The situation with laptops is pretty straightforward. Most up-to-date models feature integrated Bluetooth-reading software that will immediately recognize the newly introduced device, so all you have to do is simply enable it when the pop-up window appears.
Now, even though this is a simpler way to connect your Bluetooth headphones to an amp, it’s not flawless per se. Namely, you’ll be limited by your laptop’s battery (which is hardly ever at 100%), and unless you’re using a high-quality model, the chances are that you’ll only have a couple of hours to play, jam, or record.
Furthermore, there’s the issue of connectivity. Given the fact that guitar jacks can’t fit into laptops, you’ll need a USB that your laptop can accommodate. Beginners and people who aren’t particularly tech-savvy may sometimes get frustrated with USB types, buying devices that aren’t compatible with their laptops. This is an obvious and a very simple mistake, but not a terribly punishing one.
Using a PC
While using a PC as your mediator device seems like a simpler idea in comparison to using a laptop, it’s actually the opposite – many computer setups do not feature Bluetooth connectivity, and the process of enabling this software on your rig can be long and arduous.
Basically, the best-case scenario is that you’ll need to download a dozen of drivers, which will later configure your PC’s Bluetooth functionalities. The worst-case scenario is that your computer is actually missing a physical component, which completely shuts off the possibility of pairing it with Bluetooth-enabled devices.
If the latter is the case, there’s not much you can do, so try any of the remaining approaches. If the former is the case, look up your PC’s specs and see what type of drivers you need, they’re usually free to download.
As far as the physical aspect of connecting jacks and plugs, the process is entirely the same as discussed in the previous section – connect your amplifier to the PC by using a guitar jack-to-USB lead via headphone out, and you’ll be set to go. Again, a pop-up window will appear, so simply enable your Bluetooth headphones this way.
Go Fully Wireless: Use a Guitar Wireless System
The most expensive option completely eliminates cables, making your entire setup completely wireless. Guitar Wi-Fi systems are essentially devices that are connected to both the amp and the guitar, which are operated by a remote wireless base.
These Wi-Fi devices feature the same connector as actual instrument cables, which means that you can simply follow the exact same steps as you would in the other two cases. Now, you’ll still need a mediating device (laptop or PC), as the bases of guitar Wi-Fi systems functionalities are akin to guitar cables – they don’t actually produce any sounds.
Certain Bluetooth headphone models are glitchy in the sense that they’ll introduce a bit of lag to the mix, which means that you won’t be able to hear your guitar in real-time (the sound arrives after a second or slightly less).
There are a few ways to counter this issue, but the most obvious one is to install latency-reducing drivers. For example, ASIO4All is the current go-to software that was specifically made to combat lag. And to top it all off, it’s free to download.
What’s great about latency-reduction programs is that most of them are designed in such a way that they will be immediately integrated into your system, which means that they don’t require any installation or additional programs to function. Alternatively, you’ll need a better sound card, a better DAC, or both.
Sound Quality Issues
No matter what kind of headphones you use, your tone will be drastically different. Now, boosting the quality of the headphones themselves is practically impossible (unless you buy a better set), but boosting the quality of digital sound processing your PC/laptop executes is fairly easy.
The simplest way to do it is to buy a good digital-to-analog converter unit. These DAC devices can be bought fairly cheap, and they’ll make a difference. The longer, more affordable way to do it is to download various equalizers, compressors, noise gates, and filter programs.
These programs essentially function in the same way guitar pedals (of the same type) work, although they can only be used on certain platforms (such as Ableton, Cubase, Fruity Loops, or similar recording programs).
Senior editor for Ultimate-Guitar, passionate about good music and quality gear. Bassist. King Crimson fan. Travel enthusiast. Compulsive buyer of Bose headphones and old Fender amps.