If only sharing ceiling with neighbor, is it best to focus most energy on treating ceiling?

I was in a similar situation when first starting home recording years ago. After a noise complaint from my neighbor I spoke with them about their schedule and worked around it for things that required me making noise. I communicated my intent with them and we were able to easily avoid issues moving forward. When people are brought into the decision making process they tend to be reasonable and willing to compromise/come to a consensus.

You're not going to be able to do enough on a budget to do what you want anytime you want. You must get a handle on when it's best for all parties within ear shot.

I ended up doing a lot more by headphones in those years than in years prior, and that's carried over into future living situations which has helped keep the tensions down when it comes to the little bit I have to make noise (acoustic guitar recording, some tapping on the drum pads, etc). If it's not all the time, doing it the infrequent times is more manageable for those who aren't vested in your music interests. It's probably a good habit to get into now (not making a lot of noise) unless you expect to be independently wealthy and/or live far outside a city where your nearest neighbors can't hear you. For the rest of us 98% for which that isn't a thing, we make compromises in our approaches.
Last edited:
But will that matter if the ceiling is what I'm worried about? I don't share the floor or any of the walls with any neighbor. It's only the ceiling.
Basically the ceiling when the sound waves hit it becomes a large vibrating membrane transferring mostly the bass frequencies through to the upper floor. By putting a false ceiling with a uncoupled gap between you and the real ceiling, the vibration happens in the false ceiling and can’t transfer well through the air gap to the real ceiling therefore reducing the noise. I did a room inside a room when I built my studio. You can still hear the band but much quieter. There is no easy fix for sound proofing.
It would be easy to test out one of those DIY booths. Simply put your guitar amp in there, turn it up to normal volume, and see if you can still hear it. You can even open up the booth, measure the sound level, and then "close it" and see how much attenuation you get. A lot will depend on how loud you play your guitar. A Marshall cranked to 10 won't stand a chance. a 5 watt Champ that isn't turned up won't be any problem.

You might want to have your neighbor listen to see how much sound you are needing to attenuate.
You forgot option 3: Work with your neighbor to develop a good relationship and identify times you can record without the neighbor getting annoyed (or the neighbor walking around and ruining good takes).

Cost: $0