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My upstairs neighbor complains every time I play

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Mar 23, 2020 - 8:34:41 PM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

My upstzairs neighbor complains every time I pick banjo.I I mute the banjo with a sliding bridge mute and stuff the back with towels yet he freaks out when I pick at night I can play my flat screen Samsung tv at night at full volume past 12am, not a whisper from him but if he hears the banjo through all my muting he complains if i pick after 8pm or when I play without muting during the day.
I play clawhammer on a Whyte Laydie no 2, steel strung with a Bart Veerman bridge. He has also complained if I play my nygut strung bottle gourd banjo or my flatiron bouzouki which has a much softer tone than the WL. Any suggestions to put the banjo beyond his hearing range?

Mar 23, 2020 - 8:48:40 PM
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Paul R

Canada

12716 posts since 1/28/2010

Maybe crank up the flat screen TV and then start picking?

BTW, what's the living arrangement? Apartment, rooms, flats?

Mar 23, 2020 - 8:49:03 PM
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181 posts since 11/21/2015

Sounds like a banjo hater...
Move...

Mar 24, 2020 - 12:18:36 AM
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654 posts since 12/26/2006

Tell him it could be worse.... if he keeps complaining, you will move your drum kit in as well....

Mar 24, 2020 - 3:52:04 AM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

Unfortunately he complains to building management who send security guards to knock on my door.

Mar 24, 2020 - 4:11:51 AM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

Inam
In a flat in NYC and we are under a city under a stay in place corona order. I just recovered from focal dystonia and from not playing for a decade and am picking well again. Here is some of my music with fiddle Ken Kosek on youtube:

youtu.be/tlrk_Jni6Qw


youtu.be/e4JtOydcl14

I am back to sounding like this.
So have a desperate need to
play after 10 years of silence.

Mar 24, 2020 - 4:21:51 AM

32 posts since 4/15/2019

The posted medleys:
youtu.be/e4JtOydcl14p

Table mountain road:Tilden

youtu.be/tlrk_Jni6Qw

La Bataille/ Hanings Farewell

Mar 24, 2020 - 5:23:32 AM
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75 posts since 3/10/2020

You're supposed to turn the other cheek, BUT I'm sure he holds things that can be a nuisance. I doubt this would matter. Are there any rules that state being outside your building (in the parking lot or basketball court if there is one) can be filed under noise complaint? Maybe have manegement listen for noise in his living quarters for your banjo while his tv is on with appropriate volume. Why is he the only one who complains? Maybe he is just looking for a fight.

Mar 24, 2020 - 5:42:17 AM
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Players Union Member

DC5

USA

11077 posts since 6/30/2015
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There must be some stated rules in your rental agreement. What if you play recorded music, or the radio? These must be allowed. If you can play your TV at full volume, but not a muted banjo then this guy is just a jerk. He speaks to building management, but do you? Seems that they are the arbitrators in this little dispute. Unless your contract specifically forbids playing of musical instruments, I don't think he has a right to complain. If it does, you will have to go without playing, sadly. Unfortunately, these days, some jerks are well armed, or muscular bozos, so you need to be careful whom you "offend".

Another choice, order some sound absorbing foam and make an isolated room. Stick some foam to the ceiling first and see if that helps.
amazon.com/dp/B010GPFRUQ?tag=d...h=1&psc=1

Mar 24, 2020 - 5:45:31 AM
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Tweelo

USA

115 posts since 4/14/2014
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Get a 300 watt PA system and crank it for a good hour. Preferably something obnoxious. I recommend Barry Manilow or Steve and Edie. After that, they won't be likely to complain about your banjo. Heck, they might not even be able to hear it anymore.

This is probably a good time to talk about hearing protection.

Mar 24, 2020 - 5:47:34 AM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

It my TV that I often play late into the night as I am a night person which is when I like to immerse in learning new tunes. TV never troubles him only live music which he seems to listen for with a stethoscope given the level of muting I deploy.
Thanks all for the engagement.

Mar 24, 2020 - 5:57 AM
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1534 posts since 10/12/2011

Do you have a ordnance about quiet hrs? I'd invite the security and management to stand outside your door during normal day hours and have them listen to you play muted. Let them determine if it is unreasonable. Maybe even see if they can listen from the neighbors. Have the neighbor tell them when its unresonable so they can determine if it is or they are just a serial complainer.

If it is loud to them, then theirs your answer. If they feel its reasonable, and have verified it themselves, they can help defect the complainant. The folks next door could just not like the sound of a banjo. So any banjo noise is grating to them and they will complain.

I've tried to play at night muted and my wife could hear it. I was down stairs in the basement not directly below her.

Maybe talk with the neighbor and try to agree on a time where you can play while he/she is away. I'd avoid playing at night, when many are quieter and noise travels farther. If you can play during the day. Use normal day noises to help you muffle the sound. Move to a space as far away form the common wall as possible. Once its nice out, go outside. If all else fails see if theirs a music store or music teaching area, that you can rent a practice space. Being it a music space no one will complain about banjo noises.

Mar 24, 2020 - 6:15:41 AM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

Great Ideas if we all were not shut in due to the Corona, I have been limiting playing to day time. And moved to my bedroom away from the living room. However the wall I share with him is the ceiling which runs across the entire apartment. I have a veranda but whenever I played outside other apartments complained so that is out and they locked the public gardens in the complex. I used to practice in my university office evenings and weekends with no issues. but the entire campus is shut down and cannot access it.
Playing music will get one through the social distanciing emotionally .

Mar 24, 2020 - 6:21:05 AM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

Thanks DCS Dave for the Amazon foam link. Security admits they heard nothing from my apartment but their hands are tied. Originally the permissible noise time was 8-11. But now its 9-8.

Mar 24, 2020 - 7:32:58 AM
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3026 posts since 5/29/2011

Take up learning the bagpipes.
Seriously, I love hearing someone play the bagpipes but nothing sounds worse than someone who is learning how to play them.

Mar 24, 2020 - 7:41:09 AM
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3340 posts since 7/12/2006

If he ain't complaining ,you ain't playing loud enough!

Mar 24, 2020 - 7:46:34 AM
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3875 posts since 5/12/2010

Tell him to plug his ears, preferably with sharp #2 pencils?

Mar 24, 2020 - 8:23:43 AM
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m06

England

8758 posts since 10/5/2006

You’re ok to play an acoustic instrument in your own home at a reasonable time of day and sound levels. How long do you play? Can you divide your playing into shorter chunks throughout the day?

It would be considerate not to play later than 10.30pm or before 8.00am. Your neighbour also has a responsibility to be considerate of folks who do different activities than he does and not to complain unreasonably.

Some people are just hypersensitive and unreasonable and unable to tolerate sounds of normal activity. That’s their problem.

Edited by - m06 on 03/24/2020 08:24:45

Mar 24, 2020 - 8:31:40 AM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by stanleytone

If he ain't complaining ,you ain't playing loud enough!


Loud TV produces no objection from the police upstairs  because its is unconsciously  integrated into the everyday, normalized  urban American soundscape like a car alarm. The banjo remains irrevocably alien and culturally intrusive particularly when playing 200 year old music from the Appalachians. Once when staying at my girlfirend's  summer place in Saluda North Carolina  near Madison County back in the 70s, I was playing on the porch almost all afternoon. At some point a pickup full of neighbhors drove up with some sweet corn as a present and settled in to hear me pick. That was the reception banjo brought me then and there. Same thing happened camping out on a beach in Greece.  Here in NYC its the police I get.

Mar 24, 2020 - 8:48:19 AM
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32 posts since 4/15/2019

I do play long as I am recreating my repertoire from before I was crippled by focal dystonia and also learning new tunes. I never before 11am just got into the habit of late late meditative picking but have choice but to stop at 8 or get an electric banjo with earphones. However the complaints do not correlate to length of playing Any recommendations, Perhaps I can get a doctor's not saying I have to play for therapeutic reasons as I am neuro-diverse. And I began using a mute not too disturb my wife when she is writing. One thing is that my nail break and use a plastic finger pick on my middle finger maybe that is my trap. or put tiles on the ceiling.

Mar 24, 2020 - 10:01:34 AM
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573 posts since 11/21/2018

Sadly, Acoustic foam will mute some but it won't "sound proof" the room. You'll have to be careful finding an adhesive that can be easily removed or sanded off, should you move later.
It's a common misconception that foam sound proofs room. In studios that's more due to construction, like staggered studs so that both sides aren't touching a wall, double sheetrock etc.

I've spent a lot of time in recording studios (and built one at my home years ago) and foam is principally used to reduce sound reflection "reverb" (back to you and your room) and to reduce certain frequencies. It may have limited value for you,muting "some" but no guarantee of "all" sound transmission to your overhead neighbor, sadly.

You're going to need pretty thick foam (like 1" to 2" acoustic foam) to do much good.
There are some portable sound booths available but they're expensive. If you have a large closet you could thoroughly "foam up" that's your best bet, playing facing an outside wall, but still no absolute guarantees for the trouble and expense considering hour neighbor's super hearing.
Sorry to be on the negative side of this, but finding an altered schedule that works as best it can is probaly your best option. Electric banjo (at least for now) is going to be your next best option it seems...
Would love to hear how you recovered from your focal dystonia though..

Mar 24, 2020 - 10:35:16 AM
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3340 posts since 7/12/2006

quote:
Originally posted by craan
quote:
Originally posted by stanleytone

If he ain't complaining ,you ain't playing loud enough!


The banjo remains irrevocably alien and culturally intrusive.


Best summary of the banjo I ever heard!

Mar 24, 2020 - 10:38:11 AM
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3026 posts since 5/29/2011

quote:
Originally posted by OldPappy

Tell him to plug his ears, preferably with sharp #2 pencils?


No, twenty penny nails driven in with a claw hammer.

Mar 24, 2020 - 10:44:40 AM
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258 posts since 2/15/2015

Well without a video or a sound bite how would we know if his complaint is valid or not??? 

Just kidding... I used to be a drummer and apartment and condo living pretty much ended that instrument for me and this was way before electronic drums by the way. But I played string instruments as well, and I must say that there are times when I really do miss drumming because I was pretty darn good at it coming out of high school years ago.

Nowadays I have a nurse who works Night Shift living on one side of me and the other side is a neighbor who works at the shipyard and has to get up at like 3 a.m. . So I couldn't even take back up the drums if I wanted to without disturbing them. But that's okay,  it's been so long since I really played drums it would be almost an insurmountable learning curve at this point in my life.  But I keep some percussion instruments around, and I doubt if I would go back into a rock band at this stage in my life anyway.

Edited by - geoB on 03/24/2020 10:53:04

Mar 24, 2020 - 11:13:34 AM
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185 posts since 4/10/2018

I live in an apartment building with people above and below and beside me. I play between 10 AM and 9 PM and never have had a complaint. In the summer, everyone has their window open and I get a little applause sometimes, probably about the time I'm hanging it up for the night! Our apartment isn't sound proof--we can hear stereos and tv's from time to time. I don't use a mute or rags, but do try to keep my volume down a bit. The one thing that annoys me is the thump of an amplified bass that goes on and on. Ah well! Good luck!

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