No one likes noise. You make like sound, or music, but noise is something else completely; it’s that elephant in the room that just won’t give up. Extra noise can reduce your advanced, arpeggiated riffs and licks to little more than a garbled mess of incomprehensible notes.
So how can you avoid feedback when you play?
Believe it or not, the answer is; quite easily. Feedback is an easy thing to reduce, but it may make you think twice about your habits.
If you wear rings, golden bracelets, or other doodads while you play, take them off. Whether we want to admit it or not, guitar playing isn’t a fashion show. Pickups are magnetic. Don’t believe me? Stick a loose string against one of the flat poles. It’ll stick.
This means that all of your jewelry that you hope impresses everyone is actually part of the reason they may be cringing. Metal jewelry (yes gold, silver, and if you are fortunate enough platinum, are all metals) will create extra noise due to that magnetic quality of the pickups.
This means that your precious golden bracelets should take a nap while you play or practice.
Necklaces, anklets, and toe rings are fine if you wear them, as they are far enough from the pickups to not make any noise. Likewise, your fretting hand could be bedazzled in chainmail and it wouldn’t make a difference, so long as your picking hand is bare.
Now you may wonder what form has to do with extra feedback, and the answer is simple; nearly everything. Bad form means that you will be hitting unwanted strings, which in turn creates unwanted noise. Unlike the jewelry rule, this one applies to both hands.
Pay attention when you are fretting. Be sure that you are fretting just before the fret wire of the string in the direction you will be traveling. This means that if you are fretting the fifth fret of your B string, and you plan on ascending to the seventh fret, your finger should be fretted closer to the fret wire of the sixth fret than that of the fourth fret. Notice I didn’t say on the fret wire, as that will create a whole new problem in and of itself.
When you move strings, make sure not to bump adjacent strings. This may sound basic, but many guitarists create feedback simply by being clumsy. Pay attention to your form. Keep your palm a half inch above the strings at all time, with the butt resting on the edge of your tremolo system if you don’t have a Floyd Rose.
You may touch your palm down to mute any of the strings that are not currently in use. You may notice that once you pay proper attention to your form, you stop hearing feedback. This is because you are no longer striking extra strings, which means they are no longer ringing out to create the noise.
So long as you pay attention to your form and resist the urge to make your picking hand look fabulous, you will be able to avoid unnecessary feedback.
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