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I have a Les Paul with Burstbucker pickups. They sound amazing because they are so hot (very high output). However, when I play with a lot of overdrive, it will constantly squeal (super annoying high pitch feedback) any time I stop strumming or muting the strings.

I added a noise suppressor (Boss NS-2) to the front of my effects chain, which works great for when I'm not playing. But when I'm palm muting the squeal is heard between each strum. How can I prevent this? And no, turning down the volume or reducing overdrive is not an option; this is my metal guitar :).

Maybe tweak the noise suppressor, add compression, noise gate, eq with high end cut out, etc?

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The NS-2 has an effects loop, but I'm not really sure when to use it. Maybe if I put the overdrive pedal in the loop it would help? I'll have to try that next band practice. –  jrummell Mar 14 '13 at 16:59

6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you are are playing at high gain/volume, then you will need to mute any unplayed strings with your left-hand, or the palm of your right-hand to stop the strings feeding back. Good muting technique is essential when playing loud rock/metal. If at any point in the song you stop playing, or between songs, you can roll the volume pot off to mute the output until you start playing again. This is not so easy on a Les Paul if you are using both pickups because they each have their own volume control. For this reason I use a volume pedal in front of my amp.

The noise suppressor won't really help you, they are designed to get rid of the background hum when their is no signal on their input. Loud feedback counts as a signal, and so the suppressor will let it through.

If you still get the feedback when fully muting the strings, then this sounds like a problem with microphonic pickups, usually a problem if they are not wax-potted (though I believe the Burstbuckers are), in which case you might need to change to more suitable pickups.

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Believe me, I mastered the volume knobs very quickly :) There is no noise when the strings are fully muted (aside from a slight hum from my OD pedal). I'll try muting unplayed strings while playing, thanks. –  jrummell Mar 14 '13 at 18:29

Is it that kind of direct pickup-to-amp feedback, which isn't going through the strings (ie doesn't change pitch if you bend a string) ?

If so....

I get this too with my Strat, but I use a lot of compression so it's pretty sensitive.

I've found two cures : 1) Stand a bit further from the amp. There's a point beyond whcih it quite suddenly drops away.

2) Take a bit of eq off the signal (on the guitar tone control). This does two things : it sends a signal with less top-end, and stops the guitar being so sensitive to the squeal that comes in magnetically from the amp, and helps stop the feedback. It affects your sound a bit I guess bit hopefully there's a "sweet spot".

You might also have some luck by turning the tone down on your effects and up on the amp to compensate, or the other way around.

re this : "And no, turning down the volume or reducing overdrive is not an option; this is my metal guitar :)" - Yes indeed! Top man :-) Better to try to fix/work with the techno than change your sound.

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Quite simply there is a big difference between a Noise Supressor (Like the NS-2) and a Noise Gate (sometimes called a Hard Gate like an ISP decimator)

An ISP decimator as the last thing on your effects chain will kill all feedback between palm mutes etc. I absolutely swear by mine and could not use my rig without it.

http://www.isptechnologies.com/portfolio/decimator-ii-pedal/

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If one has the noise generating effects in the loop of the NS-2 (which is how it's designed to be used), the principle is the same? Maybe the ISP is faster. The right answer is still music.stackexchange.com/a/10206/8682, lower the gain... –  Meaningful Username Jun 4 at 11:49

I second the reduce your gain comment, however, another useful trick for the rare times you do silly things like daisy chain 3 distortion pedals through a champ amp in a bathroom (or whatever wacky thing is needed for a special effect); WIRE A SWITCH POSITION DEAD (I accidently hit caps lock, but decided to leave it). This trick has been around since the 80's, add a kill switch by itself, or… I knew a guy who's bridge position 5-way was wired as off. It's pretty simple, a good guitar set-up guy should be able to do it (I think I saw a video where Paul Gilbert says he does it, but don't quote me, I could be wrong). But back to gain... people always use to much gain to start when your a beginner, I did it, (it covers up bad technique… kinda', but not really, not in the long run) in the long run it over-compresses the sound and takes the dynamics out of it, makes it end up recording really small and buzzy.

I've noticed a correlation between guys who use too much gain and also can't play all down strokes for their "hardcore" sound… (ala Metallica, Kirk plays all down, I sure can't, but damn that guy's fast and clean). I set one guy up on my rack rig I had at the time (Hughes & Kettner Access pre w/ Mesa 20/20 power amp through a 3/4 tuned back cab with Celestions), he usually played through a Zoom processor plugged into his Mackie with gain all the way up, and the bass rolled off for "his sound", he couldn't figure out what this low humming sound coming out of my rig was… until I reached out and muted the low 6th with my hand (actually, it was a 7-string drop A tuning down a half-step to Db & Ab) and pointed out he wasn't palm-muting properly, and he'd never get a really good chunky sound alternate picking his "power" chords. He didn't listen to me, they never do, denial… it's not just a river in egypt… learn how to make your "power chords" sound chunky and tight on a flat top with .013's for a few days, then roll in some distortion on the electric, don't go so far that you lose the sense of dynamic responsiveness from your amp, at that point you're just using over-compression to hide poor/uneven articulation, there are times where you'll want super amounts of gain for different legato effects and such, and just straight out feed back (personally, I like to give it a little time to grow, rather than just instant squeal).

A lot of times these things aren't noticeable playing live, or in your garage, or wherever you usually rehearse, but when you get in the studio and start micing up, it becomes much more noticeable. Hey, don't trust me… just try it out.

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1: your guitar cable is rubbish (thin cables tend to cause feedback)

2: Reduce your gain!

One thing a lost of metal musicians do wrong is they dial in too much gain on the amp. The gain will compress your tone loosing clarity and definition and cause feedback and you should especially if you are playing on stage and you cant "cut through" the mix. Im rocking on a peavey 6505+ tube head (used by many popular metal bands) and its rare to find me cranked past 5.5 on the pre gain (post depends on the venue for volume) Mostly i play hardcore metal or gothenburg melodic death metal. The only time i will is with a tube screamer running into the amp when i want a more "flowie liquid" sound on very fast lead runs.

reduce your gain!!!

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In addition to Paulski's answer, there are a couple of very useful ways to reduce feedback in a high gain audio system:

  • if the feedback frequency is fixed, cut that frequency out using an equaliser. Typically you won't need to remove it completely, but just reduce it enough that it doesn't feed back any more
  • if the feedback frequency varies as you move around, then you can tune it to either help the notes you are playing by increasing the signal level, or if you move to a spot where the feedback frequency doesn't match any of the notes being played them you may find it doesn't feed back
  • on stage, place the speakers in front of you. This will reduce the nose level on stage and let you run your monitors at a much lower level

Also, while a noise suppressor may not be that effective, using a compressor/noise gate combination as the first pedal in your chain can kill off feedback before it even starts. I have had to do this in certain venues where I needed high gain but the acoustics were very bad. I ended up cranking the noise gate to a much higher level than normal, with a sharp attack, and then compressing heavily.

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maybe just try turning your body as well: it may be possible to shield the guitar enough to reduce the feedback. Put the guitar on the lee side of the Metal Storm. –  horatio Mar 15 '13 at 16:39
    
Can you recommend a good compressor/noise gate pedal? –  jrummell Mar 22 '13 at 20:35
    
I have used a few. Quite liked the Boss NS2 last time I used one. –  Dr Mayhem Mar 22 '13 at 22:16

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