What is Guitar Feedback? Causes and How to Fix it

Be it acing metal songs on guitar or playing a classical melody, positive feedback from the audience is a cherry on top!

No wonder you’re going to love it. But what if your guitar gives you feedback? Woah what? Yes, you heard it right. Guitar feedback is when pickups or strings vibrate on the guitar amplifier’s sound and travels back through the guitar.

This feedback can sometimes be positive, sometimes be negative.

Tough to understand? Let me elaborate on the concept.

What is Guitar Feedback?

If you increase the volume to hear what you are playing on the guitar, you are amplifying it at the correct pitch. During the process, if the signal you are getting on amplifying reverts into the guitar, the amplification continues as a feedback loop.

Eventually, you hear the loudest volume until the amplifier is at its peak, and this ear-piercing feedback gets annoying.

This cycle does not end until:

  • You mute the strings
  • You turn down the volume of your guitar
  • You turn down the volume of your amp

What Causes Feedback With Guitar?

The main cause of feedback is the clash between the loudest looping amplifier pitch and the guitar. You get feedback if the output gain of the amplified instrument is too high.

Besides, an indecent use of gain-based effects in the electric guitar, like fuzz, compressor, or overdrive, can be some other causes.

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Types of Guitar Feedback

You might have experienced various kinds of guitar feedback while trying your hands on different types of guitar, like electric, acoustic, or bass guitar.

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1. Microphonic Feedback

You get a sound from the guitar when you pluck the strings, and that creates vibration. At this point, the pickup transforms these vibrations into electricity, that is nothing but an electric signal you hear through the amplifier.

Microphonic feedback is identical to microphone. When you point out a microphone towards a speaker, you receive an uncontrollable screech. This is what microphonic feedback sounds like.

Causes of Microphonic Feedback

The unnecessary microphonic feedback occurs due to loosened or vibrating parts like sloopy wires around the pickup.

The wires in the pickup are thin, so they easily fluctuate at a much higher density with an equalizer when you play. This is where you get the microphonic feedback.

How to Fix Microphonic Feedback?

  1. Turn the amplifier down.
  2. Keep your guitar at a distance, away from the amp.

When you move your guitar away, the sound waves won’t be able to swoop forcibly during feedback.

2. Acoustic Feedback

When you play an acoustic guitar, the vibrations are generated through the whole body of the guitar. The sound hole is the main output that works as an amp in acoustic guitars. You will find the pickup directly affixed to the body, producing vibrato as an electric signal for the amplifier.

Causes of Acoustic Feedback

To understand the causes of acoustic or audio feedback, let’s take the same example of a microphone. Consider there is a microphone on the guitar. If the microphone starts catching the amplified sound, the process continues back and forth as a cycle.

Without a microphone, the sound is limited. But using the pickup while there is a microphone makes the amp louder, and it comes back into the guitar. When this action multiplies, you get acoustic feedback.

The feedback can be positive, but it worsens if the cycle continues.

How to Fix Acoustic Feedback?

To eliminate or fix the feedback:

  1. Get the amp to the neck side to avoid getting it in proximity to the amp.
  2. Get a rubber disk or feedback buster that is more likely a tea coaster in appearance, and cover the sound hole with it.
  3. Go with the piezo rather than the mic if your guitar has two pickups.

Piezo in acoustic is a magnetic thing under the bridge that senses vibrations and produces sound.

3. Harmonic Feedback

Some feedbacks are ear-bleeding and unbearable, whereas some are desirable. Harmonic feedback is one of those enticing feedbacks.

There are no such causes for this feedback. However, you can create and control it.

How to create harmonic feedback

  1. Turn the volume up because optimum energy is needed to produce vibrations when you pluck the strings.
  2. Keep the direction of your guitar opposite to the amp.
  3. Use guitar pedals like fuzz or distortion for increased volume and gain.

How to Control Guitar Feedback?

First things first, controlling feedback is more about experimentation. Trying various pedals and positioning can do the task.

Even so, there are a few other ways to control the amount of feedback.

  • Using the Wah pedal. The primary function of this pedal is to cut down the densities. The pedal is controlled by feet and works as a low-pass filter that transfers frequencies.
  • Using a Volume pedal is another way to control feedback. This pedal controls the guitar’s volume and, eventually, the feedback.

Is Feedback Good or Bad?

I would say both. Both good and bad feedback are there for a reason. You create good feedback to make a musical arrangement sound a little unique and classy. However, bad feedback is always uninvited. It can easily flatten a good going performance at anytime.

 

Did you know?

The most influential guitarist Jimi Hendrix was fond of the wah pedal.

How to Create Guitar Feedback?

  1. Increase the amp volume unless you won’t attain feedback.
  2. Use audio signals like overdrive or distortion pedals.
  3. Crank up the gain knobs on your amplifier.

Are Guitar Feedback and Guitar Buzz the Same?

Nope. Guitar feedback and guitar buzz are distinct from each other. Guitar feedback is a state when the guitar amplifier is turned up loud. It is loud enough that the sound coming through the speakers reverberates through the guitar and vibrates the strings.

On the other hand, guitar buzz or fret buzz is when the strings move and vibrate against the neck rather than over them, and you hear something like buzzzz!

The phenomenal guitarist Joe Satriani invented a superb technique of manipulating feedback!

No matter if you are performing on a stage or in a room. Start pointing out the guitar in different directions while playing notes or chords on the guitar. You get to hear multiple amplified pitches.

Best Melodies Using Guitar Feedback

Guitar feedback is mostly treated as an irritating noise. However, beautiful feedback has been a trend since the ’60s!

FAQs

How to prevent guitar feedback?

There are a few ways to prevent guitar feedback.

  1. Keep the guitar away from the amplifier
  2. Don’t assemble the microphone pointing towards the speaker
  3. Use the wah pedal and volume pedal
  4. Turn the amplification down
  5. Lower the guitar volume

What does the feedback electric pedal do?

Feedback electric pedals allow the guitarist to produce feedback sound at any amp density.

Which effect signal or guitar pedals are there?

There are various must have effects or guitar pedals. Some of them are categorized as filter effects, pitch effects, and gain effects. Especially for feedback purpose, there is equalizer, wah-wah pedal which comes under filter effects. Besides that, there are gain effects like overdrive, distortion, and fuzz.

What immediate actions should be taken on bad feedback?

You have a few ways to stop the loudest and bad feedback immediately. Firstly, you must lower the amp volume. This is an immediate solution. Turning down your guitar volume or, at last, muting the strings are other actionable ways.

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Conclusion

Creating feedback is an art you develop by experimentation. It can be challenging for beginner guitar players. Though practicing finger exercises can build dexterity, and you can master the art of creating feedback.

If you think you can learn the guitar at home, go ahead. You may get guidance from a guitar teacher to learn the techniques professionally.

So, what is your feedback on this read?

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