Weird Noises

(written in 1984)

In this lesson, I will give examples of weird — and sometimes funny — noises you can get out of your guitar.

Striving to be a flashy rock guitar player will demand a certain amount of unexpected “squeaks” and pops from your instrument. This can be effective, but if overused, can be OH NO! When playing outside of flash-oriented activities, weird noises can still be useful in a constructive manner.

Some of these sounds will require a certain type of amp and guitar set-up, basically a loud guitar with a whammy bar.

1. With a vibrato bar, bend the low E string down to the point where the strings are flapping. Try to play the low E string.

2. Same as above, but this time let the E string get magnetically stuck to the pickup. With the movement of the bar, raise the string and lower it so it gets stuck, then free, then stuck, then free. Sort of “the burp syndrome”.

3. Bring the bar very low. Hit a harmonic on the G string, 5th fret (or any that will sound). Move the bar really fast in the lowered position. Then release it to normal. Whee Wheeeee!

4. Turn the bar 180 degrees from where you would normally use it. With your fist, bang the base of the guitar as hard as you can. All this time, you are to fret a note. This causes the bar to “traumatize” and vibrate at a very fast rate. It’s probably not too good for your guitar, but it sure sounds cool.

5. With the nail of the second finger on your left hand, pull the B string off the neck towards the floor. Now oull it around the neck. You should get a pretty funny “squeak”. This is caused by the string fretting out on the frets and the pickups. This effect also works well with the G string. It’s not hard to ruin your nail, though.

6. With the second finger on your right hand, fret a note on the G string. Now raise the note up the neck (towards the tail piece) until you’d go off of the fretboard. Keep pushing on the string very hard until it “squeaks out” on the pickups. Oh what fun. Sounds like little animals are flying out of your guitar.

7. Strum the strings behind the nut. If you have a clamping system or locking nut that is closed, this effect won’t work.

8. If you have springs on your guitar’s vibrato system, strum them with your pick.

9. Scream into your pickups.

10. Take out your guitar cable and touch it to your tongue. ZAP!

11. Beat your strings with the guitar cable. WAP!

12. Stretch the highest note on your guitar until the string breaks.

13. Slide your pick down the string for that standard “big rock tone” pick screech.

14. If you perform the previous example enough times, your pick will be pretty rough on the edges. This will lend itself to a host of other “concoction extravaganzas” such as:

a) Rub the rough end of your pick strings as you fret a note. This will give a “glassy” effect.

b) Try fretting a C on the G string. With the worn and rough edge of the pick, rub really fast on the D fret. Bend G up to an A, or higher, by pushing the string behind the nut.

15. If you don’t have a locking tremolo system, bend notes from behind the nut. Bend G up to A, or higher, by pushing the string behind the nut.

There are a million more “demonstrations of frequencies” possible. With each one of these examples, you can elaborate endlessly. Knock yourselves out, knuckleheads!