Best Headphones for Electric Guitar

by wanderingted

and The Greatest Song Team

We independently test and rate all the products we review. This site is entirely reader supported. When you purchase through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more

It’s not always practical to plug your axe into a Marshall stack when practicing at home. And monitoring from your guitar amp with the free earbuds that came with your phone is likely to make you never want to play again.

So, we thought we’d search for the best headphones for electric guitar. We gave a thorough test drive to the following seven popular models.

Comparison Chart: Best Headphones for Electric Guitar

Our Pick!

AKG K702

(more info…)

Our Rating: 4.9

AKG K-702 Headphones

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Pros

  • Great Price
  • Crystal clear sound in all frequencies
  • Most comfortable
  • Great for mixing and mastering

Cons

  • For those who like unnaturally hyped bass, these are not your cans

Best Balance

Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Pro

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Our Rating: 4.7

Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Headphones

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Pros

  • Spacious soundstage
  • Best overall balance
  • Replaceable components
  • Built-to-last design
  • Great for mixing and mastering

Cons

  • Cable not detachable

Best Plug-and-play System

Boss WAZA-Air

(more info…)

Our Rating: 4.6

Boss WAZA air guitar headphones

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Pros

  • Eliminates need for guitar amp
  • No screen needed
  • Fantastic clean tones
  • Amp-in-the room feel
  • No cables!

Cons

  • Overdrive sounds limited by closed-back design
  • not the cheapest headphones

Best for Overdrive

Sennheiser HD 650

(more info…)

Our Rating: 4.6

Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones

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Pros

  • Precise monitoring in all frequencies
  • Wide soundstage
  • Best sound for overdrive guitar
  • Comfortable
  • Great for mixing and mastering

Cons

  • No carry case included
  • Slightly less neutral on the bass

Budget Choice

Superlux HD-681

(more info…)

Our Rating: 4.4

Superlux HD 681 Headphones

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Pros

  • Incredible price
  • Excellent sound for the price
  • Durable
  • Good mids for guitar playing

Cons

  • Less precision and balance
  • Mids and Bass are bumped up

Vox VGH-AC30

(more info…)

Our Rating: 2.8

Vox VGH-AC30 Headphones

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Pros

  • Uncomplicated and enjoyable to play with
  • No amp or other equipment necessary
  • Good on clean tones

Cons

  • Build quality is cheap
  • Anything broken up or overdriven sounds disappointing

Vox VH-Q1

(more info…)

Our Rating: 0.5

VOX VH-Q1 Headphones

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Pros

  • Good noise cancelling
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Terrible connectivity
  • Pricey
  • Thin sound
  • Terrible with overdrive

How We Rated the Best Headphones for Electric Guitar

First of all, just as a reminder, we test everything on this site ourselves.

We limited our trials to models suitable for monitoring and practicing guitar. This meant they needed to be over-ear models with higher impedance levels to handle higher gain guitar amps and applications.

We make a few assumptions in our ratings. Mainly, we assume that you value sound quality above all other factors.

Secondly, we prefer open-back headphone models for guitar playing as this design tends to have a more natural resonance.

Closed-back headphones, while great with sound isolation, stop the sound at the ear cup, thereby cutting off the feeling of the sound moving through a space. This is particularly noticeable with overdrive and distortion on electric guitar.

The closed-back models on this list are specifically designed for guitar practice. Two of these models (Boss WAZA-Air and Vox VGH-AC30) are plug-and-play systems eliminating the need for an amp or other equipment.

Target Frequency Response: Best Headphones for Guitar Amp

Your typical frequency response from electric guitar looks like this below:

Electric guitar frequency response
Typical Electric guitar frequency response

The audible frequency response of an electric guitar falls between 80 Hz – 4.5 kHz depending on how low you tune your bottom string. 

While the response of your headphones above and below this range will affect how the audible range sounds, clear monitoring in the 300 Hz – 3kHz range is a must have feature for guitar players.

See here for all of our audio gear reviews.

Our Pick!

AKG K702

our rating

4.9

Pros

  • Great Price
  • Crystal clear in all frequencies
  • Great on all guitar sounds – clean, reverb and overdrive
  • Most comfortable on this list
  • Great for mixing and mastering

Cons

  • For those who like unnaturally hyped bass, these are not your cans
AKG K-702 Headphones

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Bottom Line:

High-end overall performance with rocking mids for guitar at a great price.

Designed as a reference studio headphone, the AKG K702s deliver a neutral frequency response with maximum clarity in all registers. See here for our full review of the AKG K702 Headphones.

When compared with the best headphones on this list, the AKG K702s outperformed or held par with the competition on almost all ratings regarding comfort and sound quality. At less than half the price of the Sennheiser HD 650 or Boss Waza Air headphones, the AKG K702s are a real find.

The mid and high frequencies delivered by these headphones were the most exciting on this list, making them the hands-down first choice for guitar playing.

Build / Comfort: AKG K702

The lightweight (235 grams), open-back design of the K702 with gentle pressure on the ears and even weight distribution means hours of comfort for your long jam sessions. 

The leather head strap is very comfortable and can adjust to the size of all heads, even big ones. The velour ear cups give ample room in all directions to avoid ear contact with the inner-ear cup. This gives the listener the sensation that the sound arrives at your ears rather than simply existing in your head.

It is connected with a long (9.8 foot) removable cable – a feature that should extend the life of these cans. The cable is a mini-XLR to 3.5mm jack and comes with a 1/4 inch adaptor. 

In general, all the parts feel built to last. The velour cups might need replacing in future years after heavy use, but everything else seems very durable.

Sound of the AKG K702

The sound of the K702 headphones is extremely satisfying for guitar playing. With a sensitivity of 105 dBspl/V at an impedance of 62Ω, the headroom is ample and pleasing. 

Designed for mixing and mastering, the frequency response of the K702s is transparent and neutral. This allows clarity from your amp or DAW’s tone without extra hype in any frequency range. 

There are sometimes complaints that the bass on these cans is too weak. But after two weeks of testing these out, I found them to be simply honest with nothing wanting. The bass is clear as a bell but might lack the extra boost we’re used to hearing from recreational headphones. 

If used for mixing and mastering, you’re getting high-end performance at a bargain. With a frequency response of 10 Hz to 39.8 kHz, the lows, highs, and mids are crystal clear. The soundstage is ample. Every instrument can be quickly identified and brought out into the mix. 

Spec Sheet for AKG K702

Best Balance

Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro

our rating

4.7

Pros

  • Spacious soundstage
  • Best overall balance on this list
  • Excellent for all guitar sounds: clean, reverb, and overdrive
  • All the components are replaceable
  • Built-to-last design
  • Great for mixing and mastering

Cons

  • Cable not detachable
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Headphones

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Bottom Line:

A classic set of monitoring cans that deliver for guitar players.

The DT 880 Pro headphones, a studio staple for over 20 years, need to be considered in this list. The folks at Beyerdynamic have made a set of headphones for nearly every application in a sound studio.

We reviewed the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pros and found them to be one of our top choices for guitar amps.

Available with an impedance at either 32, 250, or 600 Ω, we reviewed a 250-Ω set.

Comfort / Build: Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro

Founded in 1924, Beyerdynamic has been making headphones for a long time. Their experience is evident in the details of their headphones.

I love that nearly all the parts are replaceable at a reasonable price. For example, ear pads or headbands are easily swappable in velour or leather, in silver or black.

The DT 880 Pro is a set of semi-open over-ear headphones, meaning they attenuate some outside noise but not much.

In general, there’s not much benefit to the semi-open design. The completely open-back variety, the DT 990 Pro, is definitely worth considering.

The velour pads are not too tight and would allow for a long jam session. The sturdy headband has leather padding fastened by buttons. The coiled 3-meter cable should give you enough length for guitar playing, but it is not detachable from the headphones. It includes a 1/4 inch adapter.

The general feel of these headphones is sturdy and hard-wearing.

Sound of the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro

The signature of many of the Beyerdynamic models is their spacious soundstage. The DT 880 Pros are fantastic in this regard.

The overall balance between the lows, mids, and highs is the best on this list. The bass is full but crystal clear, not over-hyped. The transient response is quick and noticeably controlled for headphones in this class.

I found the mids to be less exciting than the AKG 702 or the Sennheiser HD 650 for guitar playing.

Perhaps this was because they were so exactly balanced for mixing and mastering purposes. For that purpose, the precision is glorious – everything in the mix comes out.

Spec Sheet Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro

Best Plug-and-Play System

Boss WAZA-Air

our rating

4.6

Pros

  • Required gear: Guitar and headphones only. No amp or other equipment necessary
  • Everything can be controlled from the headset, no app or screen necessary.
  • Fantastic clean tones
  • Nice amp-in-the room feel
  • No cables!

Cons

  • Overdrive sounds limited by closed-back design
  • pricey
Boss WAZA air guitar headphones

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Bottom Line:

Best amp-less jam around. If you can spare the change, these won’t disappoint.

The Boss Waza-Air Guitar Headphones are the latest in guitar amp modeling technology. No amp required. Plug the wireless transmitter into your guitar, put on the headphones, and start playing.

I was at first skeptical about these considering the cost, but they are truly a plug-and-play joy. For guitar practice, this setup is ideal.

The Overall Feel of the Waza-Air Headphones

The general feel is fantastic. The folks at Boss clearly put some thought into the life of guitarists playing at home.

Guitar playing at home involves so much fiddling with your amp, the pedals, the dials, the computer, or your phone, that often the creative spark is gone by the time you get all the dials set.

But these cans are kindly designed so that you can avoid all the fiddling.

No need to look at a screen. You plug in and play. The default amp settings sound great and can be switched with the buttons on the right ear cup.

You can even go for a walk with your guitar on a strap! It’s pretty cool.

Features, if you are so inclined

If you want to get more involved with the settings, you can connect the WAZA-Air app and adjust amp settings and room controls to your heart’s delight.

I also liked the sleep/wake feature to conserve battery life. Set them down for a moment and they will go to sleep, pick them up again, and within a few strums, they are back on.

Comfort / Build: Boss WAZA-Air

In the box, you have the Bluetooth over-ear, closed-back headphones, the transmitter with a standard 1/4 inch jack, and some charging cables. No carry case is provided which, for the cost, should be included.

They have a comfortable pleather headband and pleather ear cups weighing in at a normal 320 grams. The right ear cup has controls for volume and amp presets. Easy to find and pleasing to the touch, I liked the steel roll dial for volume.

Connecting the Bluetooth app could be easier. The connect button has a toggle function that can also be pressed in, this wasn’t obvious at first and required manual consultation (which no one likes). [WAZA manual]

Like most closed-back headphones, they can get a little hot on the ears for longer sessions. And, the durability of these headphones is questionable. They are well made but maybe not built for life like the Beyerdynamic DT 880s.

Sound of the Boss WAZA-Air

The clean channels sound fantastic. There’s a distance between the sound and you that feels like you’ve got the amp in the room. The clean presets were perfectly dialed in for my Strat with roll-off exactly right.

The WAZA-Airs have the same dynamic head tracking technology that you find on Apple AirPods. Like the AirPods, this is at first cool and then once the novelty wears off, you might want to shut it off.

Sometimes the head tracking feature is super cool giving you the feel like you are here on the couch and your amp is over there to your left. But then sometimes you turn your head too much and the sound comes out of a weird unnatural angle.

The overdrive sounds are limited by the closed-back design. It doesn’t sound convincing. The ears want to hear the distortion travel, but the closed-back design stops the sound at the ear cup.

Boss WAZA-Air Spec Sheet

Best for Overdrive

Sennheiser HD 650

our rating

4.6

Pros

  • Precise monitoring in all frequencies
  • Wide soundstage
  • Best sound for overdrive guitar on this list
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • No carry case included
  • Slightly less neutral on the bass
Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones

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Bottom Line:

A favorite among audiophiles, these high-end cans will satisfy any guitar player.

The Sennheiser HD 650 headphones are a high-end set of headphones, designed for mixing and mastering.

Often on engineers’ shortlists of favorite mixing headphones, these headphones allow for a wide soundstage and deliver a neutral frequency response perfect for accurate monitoring.

When used for guitar practice or monitoring, you won’t be disappointed. The impedance at 300 Ω gives you ample headroom for the loudest of amps. The silky balance and rocking mids truly encourage more rocking.

Build / Design: Sennheiser HD 650

The open-back design of the Sennheiser HD 650s allows the sound to travel more than other builds, giving distortion and reverb the room it needs.

The build makes them great for longer, late-night jam sessions. The ear cushions are made with comfortable velour cups, and the headband is adjustable to fit all head sizes. The lightweight frame helps too, weighing in at 260 grams.

The detachable cable is the ideal length for guitar playing – 3 meters with a 1/4 adaptor.

On the downside, no carry case is provided, which you would probably want at this price.

The build feels solid but not as durable as the Beyerdynamic DT 880 or the AKG K702 headphones. The plastic build and folding headband seem more delicate than the other cans.

Sound of the Sennheiser HD 650

The HD 650s are built with extremely tight production tolerances, with a total harmonic distortion of less than .05 % (1 kHz, 1 V). This is noticeable. In general, they sounded great listening to all styles of music or jamming with the axe.

Getting the full feel of overdrive or broken-up sounds from a guitar amp can be difficult with headphones. These outperformed all others on this list in this regard. The extreme headroom allows the distortion to travel and bloom a bit as it does in a room.

For mixing and mastering, the precision is outstanding. And, the sound stage is lovely and large.

The bass felt slightly overpowering at times. Just enough to take away maximum monitoring clarity in the lower mids. That said, for guitar jamming and hi-fi listening, this would be my personal bass level preference.

Spec Sheet Sennheiser HD 650

Budget Choice!

Superlux HD681

our rating

4.4

Pros

  • Incredible price
  • Excellent sound for the price
  • Durable
  • Good mids for guitar playing

Cons

  • Not as precise or balanced as other models on this list
  • Mids and Bass are bumped up
Superlux hd 681 headphones thumb

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Bottom Line:

Shockingly good sound for the price.

The experience of the Superlux HD681 headphones is mostly just surprising. At this price, they’re really not bad!

They lack the silky balance and neutral clarity of higher-end models but even so, you could do a lot worse with a pair of monitoring headphones.

Comfort / Build: Superlux HD681

The Superlux HD681 headphones are a semi-open back design, made of durable pleather with a comfortable lightweight build. (278 grams) They look and feel like you could chuck them around your studio for years and they would always sound the same.

The cable is long enough for most guitar setups (2.5 meters) terminating in a standard 1/4 jack with a mini-jack adaptor.

Sound of the Superlux HD681

For guitar playing, you need exciting mids, and these deliver. Maybe too much. They are a little unnaturally hyped on the bass and mids for reference headphones.

The soundstage is ample enough. Instruments in the lower mids are sometimes difficult to identify in the mix and the overall balance is not ideal.

But at this price, it is difficult not to be impressed by these cans – a great choice for a budget set.

Spec Sheet for the Superlux HD681

VOX VGH-AC30

our rating

2.8

Pros

  • Uncomplicated and enjoyable to play with
  • No amp or other equipment necessary for practice
  • Decent sound on clean channels

Cons

  • Build quality is cheap
  • Anything broken up or overdriven sounds disappointing
vox vgh ac30 headphones thumb

Check Price:

Amazon

Bottom Line:

A fun jam, but probably not worth it.

Designed as a plug-and-play toy for guitarists, we found the Vox VGH-AC30 headphones to be an enjoyable jam with a cheap build.

Comfort / Build: Vox VGH-AC30

The VGH-AC30 headphones are decently comfortable on-ear closed-back headphones with a 1.6-meter cable terminating in a 1/4 inch jack that plugs directly into your guitar. No amp or other equipment is required.

They require two AAA batteries to function, which are included. They have tiny dials for amp settings on the right ear cup. These feel cheap and are difficult to move and set properly.

The overall build quality is wanting. They just don’t feel or look like they are built to last.

Sound of the Vox VGH-AC30

The sound is surprisingly decent. On the clean channels, you get a nice chimey tone which is fun to jam with. Anything that breaks up with higher gain and low volume, however, starts to sound cheap.

Vox VH-Q1

our rating

0.5

Pros

  • Good noise cancelling
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Terrible connectivity for guitar headphones – no 1/4 inch cable or adapter!
  • pricey
  • Thin sound plugged into amp
  • Terrible performance with overdriven tones
VOX VH-Q1 Headphones

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Bottom Line:

Thin sound at a high price. Wow.

We tried these cans out thinking they would be a step up from the VGH-AC30s, but alas, we were wrong. These are a disappointment and generally not recommended given their price.

They are marketed as high-end guitar practice headphones that can be used for everything. At best, we found them to be okay recreational Bluetooth headphones.

Comfort / Build: Vox VH-Q1

The VH-Q1s are a closed-back, Bluetooth, noise-canceling build. They are very comfortable if a little too warm. They have a multi-function switch to control play, pause, forward, and back functions on the right ear cup.

Vox says these are “ideal headphones for every guitarist” but they don’t even have a standard 1/4 cable to connect an amp! They come with a cheap mini-jack cable with no adaptor. Amazing.

Via a Bluetooth connection with your computer or phone, you can play guitar with these but that requires an audio interface, a DAW or app, and a lot of fiddling to set up.

They come with loads of weird features like the ability to pick up and isolate the frequencies of your acoustic guitar or your voice with its microphone. This worked okay, but does anyone care?

Sound of the Vox VH-Q1

When plugged into an amp with the cable provided, the sound is thin and unpleasant. Anything other than clean tones is not worth your time. Distortion and anything slightly husky was lackluster, to say the least.

As recreational headphones, they deliver decently. They are hyped in the bass, like most, and have good noise-cancellation.

But for the price, they don’t hold up to the competition.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you properly plug a guitar into an amp?

Use a clearly labeled “headphone out” jack provided on your amplifier. Don’t plug into a “line out” or “direct out” or “input” jack. Use a mini-jack or 1/4 inch adaptor if you need one.

Can I use headphones with my tube amp?

Most tube amps don’t even have headphone outputs like solid state amps. Plugging in headphones disconnects the output voltage to the speaker. Tube amps require an output for the voltage from the transformer or they will literally go up in smoke.

To connect headphones you will need a device called an attenuator. This will take the load from the speaker and give you a headphone output.

Attenuators range from the high-end Universal Audio Ox to the affordable but excellent Bugera Power Soak.

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