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Help ! Bad Neighbours ! Can't Practice !

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by Dr Rod, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Does anybody know how to effectively soundproof a room without having to touch my retirement savings?

    I already know about curtains and carpets. We need something more radical, my wife is a violinist and I am a bassist so we need dampening for lows and highs.

    Thanks guys...

    Dr Rod
  2. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    this is the beauty of headphones and electric pickups
  3. christ andronis

    christ andronis Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2001
    ...empty egg cartons work great...
  4. Get a pickup and the world's largest amplifier. Maybe some earplugs.
  5. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Get earplugs for the neighbours so you can practice peacefully... ;)
  6. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    Get some 1x4 lumber. Cut it up and glue (with carpenter's glue) and screw it together with drywall screws to make giant picture frames, like at least 4 feet tall by 2 feet wide by 4" thick - that will get you an even division of the lumber - but better if you make them 5-6 feet high. fill them with fiberglass insulation from Home Depot. cover with any kind of on-sale fabric from the fabric store (coarse burlap-kinda fabric works best though), wrap around and staple it to the back of the frame with a staple gun. save yourself a big hassle and get an electric staple gun while you're at "Home Despot"; this way, when you become a smash hit with these things, you can make some extras and sell them to your friends and recoup your costs. if the staples punch right through the cloth, use little bits of cardboard to back them. hang em like art on your walls, as many as you can fit, in your practice room. when you move away from your philistine neighbors (after flattening their tires, etc) you can take these insulators with you. if you splurge on decorator fabric, it may cost $200 to do your practice room.

    that's how we used to insulate rockin' night clubs from their cop-callin neighbors - IT WORKS. take it a step further and build yourself a riser to stand on with insulation underneath. the riser will need a plywood surface and feet, so minimal surface area contacts the floor. it doesn't matter too much how tall/thick the riser is. 2" is OK. put the riser on existing carpet, and put some more carpet on top of it. if the cost of plywood is an issue, look in the phone book for cabinet shops, and go pick thru their dumpster at night. you should find a more-or-less intact sheet of plywood of some description. i OWN a wood shop, and i still check the next guy's dumpster for free inventory. free is good. use a circular saw to cut stuff up. they only cost about $40. watch your fingers (i once was handed a ziploc baggy with the remains of my 30-years-experienced friend's (a DB player) thumb after an incident on the table saw - let common sense and caution be your guide - or get a non-musician friend to do the cutting - you buy the beer (much safer))!

    any more questions, happy to answer.
  7. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
  8. TeHarr


    Nov 8, 2005
    I know I'd hate using headphones and an amp... you should be able to practice in peace, without restriction to what you're doing.

    Up here in Canada we can get some 1-inch think styrofoam insulation, and if you cover the walls with that it would kill lots of the sound. Egg cartons also work well, and if you want to put in a couple of hours to make it looks nice, hand some CDs and old records from the ceiling. The styrofoam isn't too expensive, but it is an ugly blue...

    Bon chance!
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Baterie, thanks for sharing. This is gonna be soooo useful in the future. So do you just stick a few of these "absorbers" on the wall or do you panel the wall and cover it up as much as possible?
  10. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    Depends on the neighbours! Do as few as you can get away with. I have also made a big mosaic out of scrap foam rubber, but that stuff is flammable like crazy (might be a consideration to have your practice room go up like a bomb when you move out though) ;)
  11. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Those rubber bridge mutes work pretty well both arco and pizz. I have one. It's kills a great deal of the sound without making the process too frustrating. It is certainly better than not practicing.

    They're less than $20 and can be removed in about 1 second.
  12. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    Well I have a few ideas. First of all is it an apt or a home ? How and when are these neighbors bothered ? If it is because you practice at night then I can understand. Who are these neighbors ?
    You see I believe you can do this for free.
    If you live in an apartment owned or rented there are surely clear rules about noise and practicing. If these aren't available I am sure a local agency will have these readily available .
    Do you live in Canada ? Come on ! Canadians are the most reasonable law abiding people I know. So flash a paper in their face with these "sound codes and rules" and they will either have to abide by them , move out or like my friends in LA had , a neighbor who rented an electric guitar and placed it by the wall and started to play it very loudly to scare off my friends. Well she got kicked out.
    If these neighbors can't take the sound they should not live so close to other people. They could move to the Yukon or something.
    Having to soundproof the room is a good way to show that you care about your neighbors but it also puts you in the " I am a wrong doer" position.
    I would first check out all the rules on this topic first before freaking out at Home Depot on foam that may dampen sound but also not be good enough to calm their nerves.
    You see once the damage is done ie the sound of practicing = bad vibes with neighbors then it will only be better if your neighbors hear NOTHING. If it is just dampened a little it will only increase their awareness to your practicing.
    Studies with the brain show that even if the stimulus is percieved much less but none the less threatening and irritating it will still be as strong a problem.
    This is from a study on tinnitus sufferers and people who are sensitive to sound.

    Communication is the key. As this is clearly a case of control freak neighbors-
    Personally I can't see how a bassist can make so much noise.
    I practice three hours a day. And I mean all the licks, repetitive scales and all the dorky pieces I can muster.
    My neighbors hear me clearly but they tune it out.

    A violinist I can see as the high ptich screeching is a bummer. ( My wife is a piccolo payer) and goes through the floors. But people deal with it. I can guarentee if it was the TV so loud they would say nothing as it is every westerners right to watch TV.
    N'est-ce pas

    Hope this helps. And remeber you catch mre flys with honey than egg cartons.
  13. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Thanks for the input guys. I guess it might be a matter of personality. I just want to avoid confrontation, I can understand how after working all day and driving through traffic, the bassist next door can be irritating. Actually here in Manitoba many rental buildings don't allow music instruction or practice.

    According to the laws of physics, lower frequencies are the ones that travel through walls, not the high ones (piccolo) which are really easy to stop. I agree that the high frequencies can be more painful though. Traditionally it is always a problem to insulate bass because the tiniest opening or connection (a nail going through materials) will let the low frequencies go through.
    See here for more info:


    You will also see that absorbant materials such as foam and carpets can sometimes help low frequencies go through. You will feel like it's softer in your practice room, but that's reverberation control in a room and not insulation which is the actual problem.

    I am no handyman but it seem like BASSBATERIE's idea is the closest to what this article claims it is needed. the only thing is that the staples will conduct.

    Maybe you guys are right, I just have to accept my neighbours with their straight faces, and they have to accept my "noise" as they call it.

    Take care
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That's kinda out. Here in NYC, the courts have been VERY supportive in upholding a musician's right to practice.

    Bass frequencies are mostly gonna be a problem for a downstairs neighbor. If you own your place (or are at least planning on living theer for a substantial amount of time) you may want to build a false floor. Will Lee did that with his joint in SoHo, he used about 2 inches of sand as an insulator; but dead air space works pretty well too. You just have to be really careful that NOTHING connects the false floor to the real floor or it will carry the sound vibrations.
  15. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    4 clothespins on the bridge.
  16. One positive element of getting the sound proofing sorted is that in my humbel op / the dead sound proof room is a very real place to practice in. When you do get to that rehersal you will sound great!

    Be aware of the flattery that a room with reverb and a good acoustic, it can hide a lot of dross!

    If you can get a good sound in a dead acoustic you will be supprised when you play in a forgiving space!
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have an old Practice Mute that is no less than 30 years old. I lived in apartments in NYC and Queens for my entire 20 year span as a Pro Player. I can't count the number of complaints I got form the few neighbors that heard me. This Mute (which I hardly ever used) looks to be solid steel but is painted black so I can't be sure. It weighs about a pound.

    It is a circle about 3" across and 1" thick with a Jaw opening to go over the Bridge. It has a screw padded with plastic that goes thru the top of the Mute to fasten onto the Bridge. This cuts the volume down to a Peep!
  18. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Ken, would this be the quietest kind of mute? I need to get the quietest. I have a rubber one http://shop1.mailordercentral.com/lemurmusic/prodinfo.asp?number=A1374 which is ok, but it sounds like it takes out all of the mids, and boosts the lowest freq. (arco gut) ! (and I realized that it wouldn't fit properly on my 5-string lol) - which mutes are the best?
  19. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I don't know what's out there. I bought mine so long ago. It is NOT Rubber. I think you here you Bass up close better with the Mute but it doesn't carry as far. Try a Small metal C-clamp. My mute looks a bit like a C-clamp shaped like a small round flat doughnut.
  20. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    On a lighter note - here's a snippet from my one-man show THE DOUBLE BASS, written by Patrick Suskind:

    Okay, fine. Don't say a word. Not bad, huh? Soundproofing. How did people live before they had soundproofing? I can't believe it was any quieter then than it is today. Wagner wrote he couldn't find a quiet apartment anywhere in Paris because there were tinsmiths on every street corner . And a tinsmith -- I don't know if you've ever heard one, but they make the most infernal racket -- terrible for a musician. A tinsmith is someone who pounds, pounds, pounds all day on a piece of metal with a hammer. And in those days everyone worked from sunrise to sunset. Allegedly. So you had the tinsmiths hammering their little hearts out, you had the carriages on the cobblestones; you had salesmen screaming in the marketplace and you had the standard French hullabaloo and revolutionary commotion! I mean, the common people, the crummiest proletariat in the street, it’s a noisy bunch, it's well known. And on top of that, at the end of the Nineteenth Century Paris was building a subway and they didn't build subways any faster then than they do today. Anyway, I'm skeptical about Wagner, but enough of that! Okay, fine. Now, pay attention. This is a test!

    My bass is perfectly normal. Built in 1910 or so in the south Tyrol. 1.12 meters long. If you include the neck and the scroll, 1.92 meters. The length of a vibrating string is one meter and twelve centimeters. Not a remarkable instrument, but I think we can say highly average. I could get 8500 marks for it today. I paid 3500. Crazy. Okay, fine. Now, I'll play something for you, a tone, let's say, low F...(He plays quietly.) There. Pianissimo. Now, piano. (He plays a little louder.) Don't let the rubbing disturb you. It's natural. A pure tone, vibration without any bow stroke rubbing, simply doesn't exist anywhere in the world. No one can do it. Not even Yo-Yo Ma. There. Now, listen. I'll play something between mezzo forte and forte. Remember, we're in a full soundproofed room...(He plays a little louder still.) There. Now we'll wait a second here...hold on...it's coming...okay…Now!(Some one pounds on the ceiling from above.)

    There! Hear that? That's Mrs. Neidermeyer, upstairs. At the slightest sound she pounds. That's how I know I've crossed over the boundary between mezzo forte and forte. Mrs. Neidermeyer's okay. Anyway, it doesn't sound so loud when you're standing next to it. In fact, in sound rather discreet. Fortissimo, for example... (He plays as loud as he can, and shouts over the rumble of the bass)...doesn't sound so loud, but it's flooding up to Mrs. Neidermeyer, and leaking down to the superintendent's, and slopping over to the next door neighbor's. They'll all call later! Okay, fine.