Are you tired of letting your performance be ruined by feedback and want to know how to stop it? If so, then your prayers are about to be answered.
Stopping feedback on guitar amp is basic and there are several ways to stop it. Some commonly used ones include repositioning your position or the amp, changing the levels on the equipment, using a noise gate device, and reducing the volume on the equipment among others.
In this article, you will get to know all about feedback, what causes feedback on a guitar amp, how to prevent guitar amp feedback, how you can manipulate guitar feedback, and how to stop feedback on guitar amp among others. Continue reading to get all the answers that you’re looking for.
What causes feedback on a guitar amp?
Nothing can ruin the mood of live music more than the annoying, shrieking feedback from the guitar amp. Feedback is the effect made by the sound waves when the output is being recording by the input. It’ll create an infinite sound loop and produce a loud, high-pitched noise. Luckily, there are many ways you can avoid feedback when you’re playing the guitar through an amp.
All that’s required for feedback to occur will be the components of a basic PA system, or any system consisting of a mic, speaker, and guitar amp. Feedback occurs when the sound gets amplified out of the speakers, travels back through the mic, and gets amplified again. It’ll then be sent back through the speakers the second time. This loop will happen so fast that it’ll create its own frequency, resulting in a shrieking noise. It’s one of the several guitar tones that you’ll be able to produce.
When musicians mention the subject of feedback, most of the comments are negative ones. This is due to the howling sound produced in the middle of the song that they’re playing. Apart from the dreaded loop, feedback also occurs when the gain in the output of the amp is too high. Aside from minimizing and controlling feedback, there are multiple ways to increase the chances of the feedback happening. One of the key points that have to be reiterated is that feedback occurs in systems at a point of resonance and high gain. This makes it especially challenging to control, but it can still be accomplished.
How to prevent guitar amp feedback?
Before trying to figure out how to stop feedback, it’ll be worth understanding how to prevent guitar amp feedback. After all, it’s rightfully that prevention is better than cure. One major change you can make to prevent feedback is to monitor the amplified volume of the instruments where you’re playing.
Another quick way of preventing feedback would be by changing the position of your mic or the speaker output. This way, the speaker wouldn’t be feeding directly into the mic. Then, keep the speakers a bit forward and closer to the audience, while keeping the mics further back.
Another way to avoid the dreaded shriek from the feedback would be to use a directional microphone. Moreover, sing or speak close to the mic, basically kissing the microphone. Moreover, turn off the mic when it isn’t being used, hence equalizing the signal and lowering the frequency. You can also lower the speaker output to prevent feedback. There are devices that you can purchase and connect between the monitor and the amp.
How to manipulate guitar feedback to your advantage?
While feedback is largely a negative thing, it can also be turned into an interesting tool for musicians. In fact, guitarists use feedback for increasing the input signal, known as Positive Feedback. There are many ways you can increase your chances of feedback such that you could utilize this technique. For instance, you can use higher gauge strings. These will vibrate for a longer period of time while requiring less feedback from the output for holding a note. It’s another way of transforming your guitar’s sound.
Another simple change that you can make would be to increase the amount of feedback and sustain your instrument produces. You can do it by making your guitar as rigid as possible. If you’ve got a bolt-on neck, ensure that the screws are tight, or it’ll reduce the sustain of the strings.
The ancient method to increase feedback involved connecting a treble boost before the amp to overdrive it. Another method is lowering the pickup to increase the distance between the pole pieces of the pickups and the strings. Although some musicians prefer raising the pickups for producing maximum drive to the amp, this decreases the amount of feedback that might occur. Unfortunately, pole pieces will be magnetic and close proximity to strings dampens the vibrations.
How to stop feedback on guitar amp
There are multiple methods for how to stop feedback on guitar amp, here are some of the most common ones.
Reposition yourself or your amp
Before going out and spending hundreds of dollars on compressors, pedals, and other devices, start with simple testing. A simple fix would be to determine where you stand compared to the amp. Moving yourself or your amp will be an easy way of stopping feedback from the guitar amp. This should be one of the first solutions that you go for.
A great way how to stop feedback on guitar amp would be by moving farther away from the amp when playing the guitar. You should move away as far back as your cord will let you. In case the cord is too short, purchase a longer one such that this simple fix will work.
Another immediate fix would be to reposition your amp itself. You can simply turn the amp away from you or point the amp around 2-3 inches towards the wall. You can even place it in front of yourself when you’re playing. The second will work best if you’re performing on the stage. If you’re playing at home, turning it towards the wall will be an easy fix.
Musicians and guitarists jamming at home can place the guitar amp on a carpet. This will reduce the reverberations that come from the amp. With that said, these fixes might not completely stop the feedback. Although they’re ideal for home guitarists, the professionals can change equipment levels for ensuring that the feedback stops.
Change the levels on your guitar equipment
Changing the different levels on the guitar amp and guitar can be a great way to stop feedback. It might take a while to find the perfect combination. However, once you’ve found it, you’ll be able to eliminate feedback from your amp forever. Here are some of the knobs to keep in mind when adjusting your equipment levels.
Changing the gain levels on your guitar, the amp, or both completely stop the feedback. But you’ll need to understand how the levels work and how you can control gain. When the sound moves from your guitar to the amp before ultimately reaching the audience, it’ll go through two stages. The first stage is called the preamp stage.
The preamp stage is where gain will come into play. High gain is often the primary cause of feedback. Reducing it will be an easy way of stopping feedback on your guitar amp. On your guitar, turn the knob that controls the gain counterclockwise for reducing it. Then, you can turn the gain down on the amp. Feedback normally occurs when you’re jamming loud, rocking sounds. Turning down the gain will stop the feedback, while you’ll still be able to rock as loud as you want. Gain is related to volume as well, since gain modifications affect volume changes. Reducing volume will be another fix to the annoying feedback problem.
Reduce the volume on your amp
Similar to gain, the volume will also contribute to feedback. You might need to play around with the buttons until the feedback stops completely. However, it’ll be an easy way of stopping feedback on your guitar amp. The gain will be connected to volume. When your guitar is playing softly, the gain could be higher without having feedback.
Just like playing around with the gain knobs, turning down the volume on your guitar while increasing the volume on the amp can be an easy way of stopping feedback on the guitar amp. Essentially, you’ll be increasing the output of the sound while decreasing the input, and this combination will work.
Finding the sweet spot between your guitar and the amp volume can stop feedback. As many guitars have numbers dedicated to the volume, you should prefer starting at 7 or 8. Then, you should reduce the volume on the guitar by a few numbers while raising the amp sound slowly. Once you’re able to find a sound that stops the feedback, you’ve found your sweet spot.
If your guitar doesn’t have any numbers for the volume, try to tune it 3/4th full. Then, closely listen to how much feedback you might be getting from the guitar amp. Now, repeat the same trick – turn down the guitar’s volume while turning the volume on the amp up. Testing the knobs helps in finding the proper balance and avoid feedback.
Find the sweet spot
You should preferably take a picture of where the knobs are once you’ve stopped the feedback. It’ll be even more important if your guitar and amp don’t have numbers. If they’re marked, you should write them down so that you know the sweet spot going forward. You’ll always be aware of the combinations to stop the feedback coming from the amp. But remember what the difference is –
- Changing the amount of gain will change the sound coming from the guitar
- Gain doesn’t alter the volume to a huge extent, instead, it focuses on the tone and sound
- Volume will be how loud your guitar is playing, and it affects gain
Both volume and gain contribute to the amount of feedback you might hear coming from the guitar amp. Ultimately, a high guitar gain will be the main source of unwanted feedback. Reducing volume can eliminate or limit immediate feedback.
Feedback is created with higher amplifiers or guitar gains. Reducing the amp’s volume or the guitar’s volume will be an easy way of controlling feedback from your amp. Adjusting the bass and treble might be another free method of completely stopping feedback from the amp.
Lower the treble and turn up the bass
It is very simple – low bass and high treble will create feedback. This will be another way of trying to completely stop feedback. There are some situations where a guitar player might want to have higher gain. For instance, heavier rock and roll will warrant the rougher, dirtier sound and feedback might compliment the style. If you don’t want to mess with the gain and volume controls, balancing the bass and treble will be another step to stopping feedback.
Treble will be the amount of high-frequency sound, while bass will be the amount of low-frequency sound. The positives of having a higher treble will be that it’ll make the sound sharper and crisper. However, higher treble will mean that you have more chance of creating unwanted feedback.
Lowering the bass gives guitarists a more balanced and even tone, while having more bass to make the tone boom. Both amps and guitars will come with bass and treble knobs that can be adjusted to the appropriate tone. Usually, having the bass too low and treble too high will result in feedback. First, you should turn down the treble and start adjusting the bass.
Similar to the testing gain, play your guitar with the treble about three-fourths high while having the bass the opposite. Move the treble lower and the bass higher until you’ve found the perfect spot. It’ll sound great and will completely stop the feedback. All guitars and amps are made differently, so it might take a couple of tries to find the perfect spot.
Purchase a noise gate to stop feedback
All the previously mentioned methods were free solutions, but there are paid ones as well. There are devices that you can buy to stop the feedback from happening while jamming out. One of the devices that you can buy is a noise gate. It is a device that controls the audio signal volume and stops feedback on the guitar amp.
Some characteristics that you should look for in a noise gate include –
- Small devices will be more attractive for guitarists
- They should come with settings that are adaptable
- You should find one that can be used in FX loops to suppress noise from pedals and the guitar at the same time
- They’re very easy to control
Experts state that if you’re going to purchase one thing to stop feedback, then it is a noise gate. As its job is to control audio signal volume, it’ll eliminate sounds below a set threshold. The unwanted and excess noise can be managed, like feedback, through this electronic (pedal or rack unit) device.
The noise gate blocks any noise that is coming through the amp below the threshold. When sounds are below the threshold, the noise gate will close. Conversely, when the sounds go above the threshold, the gate will open and allow the sound to go through. This stops the feedback when you’ve stopped strumming the guitar strings.
There are certain important settings on noise gates for eliminating feedback. The primary issue with noise gates will be that you’ll first have to set the threshold. The noise gates are capable of reducing and stopping feedback. However, they can even take some substance out of your tone if the threshold isn’t set up correctly. With that said, if you know what triggers feedback, you can make use of a noise gate for avoiding it.
You can avoid such issues by understanding important settings –
- Release/decay – How long the noise gate has been opened
- Threshold – How high the signal has to be to go through the noise gate
- Attack – How aggressively the noise gate triggers and opens up to let the sound through
Some players might have some confusion between noise gates and suppressors. A noise gate’s job will be to completely cut out the sound when it goes below a certain threshold. It’ll be based on the release/delay as well as the attack. Suppressors, on the other hand, work well on filtering out specific frequencies that might be a problem and cause feedback. Although there are brands that combine noise gates and suppressors, noise suppressor pedals are very popular for eliminating feedback from a guitar amp.
There are different kinds of noise gates that can easily eliminate unwanted feedback from a guitar amp. One of the most popular kinds of noise gates will be a noise suppressor pedal. Unlike other types of noise gates, a noise suppressor wouldn’t affect the guitar’s normal tone. However, they might cost more than an average noise gate.
If you’ve tried all the free methods, and you still have feedback, a noise suppressor pedal will do the trick. These devices can easily detect the source of the feedback, reduce, and eliminate unwanted noise. Moreover, they’ll allow the guitarists to control the sound coming out of the guitar amp.
Similar to the volume and balancing gate, turn up the pedal around three-fourths to start off. Then, find the balance you’ll need for removing feedback and controlling the sound that you desire. These suppressor devices need to be used in conjunction while controlling the volume and gate so that the volume, tone, and level of feedback work together as one.
Even with suppressor pedals, if you are turning the guitar and amp to the max volume, you’ll more likely still have screeching feedback and sound out of control. Additionally, suppressor pedals can be quite pricey if you want one that can effectively eliminate the feedback from the amp.
Other tips to eliminate feedback
By now, you would have got to know more than enough methods for how to stop feedback on guitar amp. If the feedback is still there, maybe you couldn’t find the right balance of volume and gain. Sometimes, adjusting the bass and treble might not work. If you’ve exhausted the free methods and don’t want to spend money on noise gates, here are some more methods.
Do you make use of distortion pedals? If you have distortion pedals plugged into the amp, it might create feedback if they’re turned too high. If you turn down the level and gain knob on the distortion pedals, it’ll eliminate the feedback. You might have finally found the problem. You can even unplug the guitar from the pedals for testing the device.
Are you using an equalizer? Many guitarists do, and you’ll be able to use the equipment you already have to help stop feedback. You can just turn down the guitar’s frequency range, and it’ll immediately stop the feedback, as it’ll no longer be indicated on the equalizer. You’ll then have to test how many Hz are required for your specific guitar. If you’re playing an acoustic guitar, you’ll probably have a sound hole lying around.
This inexpensive device is a great way of controlling feedback when the guitar has been plugged into the electric sound. You should remember that the overall tone is affected, but it might not be a bad thing after all. Moreover, it’ll eliminate feedback and create a new sound altogether.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about feedback, what causes feedback on a guitar amp, how to prevent guitar amp feedback, how you can manipulate guitar feedback, and how to stop feedback on guitar amp among others.
Most guitarists and musicians experience the common issue of feedback. Stopping feedback on your guitar will be very simple and there are both free and paid solutions. Some common free methods include changing the levels on the equipment, repositioning your position or that of your amp, lowering the treble and turning up the bass, and more. The paid method includes purchasing a noise gate device.