How to use Guitar Feedback


Hi, in this guitar lesson we will look at how to use amp feedback. This is a popular trick, ever since Jimi Hendrix (supposedly) started using it creatively.


There are two types of amp feedback:

- unwanted, screechy, high-pitched amp feedback due to bad pickups; this is generally not what you want.

- singing, controllable, musical and loud amp feedback, coming from the combination of a loud, distorted amp and a guitar with humbuckers. This is what we are after.


What do we need for great guitar amp feedback?

What is needed is an electric guitar that has humbuckers, preferably. You will also need an amp. Then, you need to set a distorted sound. Either use a seperate overdrive or distortion effect pedal, or you the overdrive that your amp has built-in. Put the amplifier loud. Don't worry about your neighbours, this is Rock and Roll and they will have to respect that!!

How do you get that nice, sustaining amp feedback?

Ok, so you've set the amp loud, distortion or overdrive on, and you have a humbucker-equipped guitar plugged in.

Guitar settings: switch to the neck pickup.

Stand within 3-6 feet of your amp, depending on how big your amp is. Big amp, many watts? Stand further away. Small amp, low watts? Stand closer to the amp.


The famous story about Slash and feedback is that he would have tape on the floor of the studio to mark exactly where he had to stand to get the best feedback. Listen to Slash's playing on Don't Cry by Guns n Roses, to hear what i mean.


Now, play, very slowly, one by one, all the notes on the B-string (second one from below), starting from the 10th fret, upward. Play each note and let it ring, to see if feedback starts. At this point you'll feel the string respond under your fretting-hand fingers.


Guitar lesson - Carlos Santana searching amp feedback

Probably, you will quickly find a note that feedbacks, giving you a sustain that goes on forever.


Try to bend that note while sustaining, see if the feedback stops or not.


Try also vibrato. As you will see, guitar amp feedback depends on the pitch of your note, every combination of guitar-amp-distortion-overdrive sound will give a different perfect note.


Listening examples of guitar amp feedback are:


- Carlos Santana - Europa (halfway in the solo he gets great feedback on a few high bends). This is trademark Carlos Santana playing.


- Gary Moore - Parisienne Walkways, from Blues Alive. He gets that famous, 1 minute-note by bending the B-string, and adds vibrato, and finally a powerslide. Classic rock moment for ya! Thanks for reading, see you next lesson!


Free lesson: Gary Moore getting Amp Feedback