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I get this really bad feedback sounding noise when I play stuff like this, from the beginning of the Free Bird solo, shown in tab:

1  ----18---18---18---------
2  -18---18---18---------

(All notes on second string played with a full bend.)

It's there on any amount of distortion, but not when I play clean. Is it a problem with the amp? If so, what can I do about it?

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Hmm. Can you elaborate a little? What are the settings on the amplifier? Are you plugged straight in? Are you using any pedals? –  Jduv Jan 29 '11 at 23:49
    
Treble: Full. Middle: Full. Bass: Full. Gain: if there's any distortion at all, it makes the sound. No pedals or anything. –  Anonymous Jan 29 '11 at 23:54
    
Couple more questions: What model is the amplifier? Any Cabinets? What's the volume settings you are playing at? Finally, it's likely unrelated, but what kind of guitar are you using? –  Jduv Jan 30 '11 at 0:18
    
The amp is a JA-010-G. I hate to sound stupid but I don't know what you mean by Cabinet. Volume is fairly low. The guitar is a First Act electric, so by no means a high-dollar instrument. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 0:52
    
A cabinet (or speaker) is essentially a speaker in a box - the 'cabinet.' They are usually used in conjunction with a Amp Head, which controls the EQ and any built in effects, and sends the signal and power to the Cabinets. A lot of amps (including yours) are combo amps, meaning the head and cabinet are built in together in one unit. –  Ali Maxwell Jan 30 '11 at 1:03
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4 Answers

Looks like you have a little 10 Watt practice amp with a 6.5" speaker. I'm going to be straight honest with you: you may not be able to get rid of this issue. Harmonic feedback as I know it has a lot to do with volume. For example, you could have an amp gained out to obscene levels but at a low volume and never cause any harmonic feedback--so feedback isn't necessarily as much of a relationship with gain as it is with volume and gain. If I were to describe it as a function I would say that the amount of harmonic feedback = f(volume, gain) where volume and gain are variable to some degree but proportional.

So after explaining feedback a little, let's address your problem. I don't necessarily think that you are hearing any harmonic feedback in this case--but it's more likely that you are detecting some dissonance or artifacts in the sound produced from your amp. Practice amplifiers are built to be just that. A 6.5" speaker can get pretty loud mind you--I used to piss off the neighbors with my little Fender Champ--but it's not terribly good at reproducing the frequency range of a guitar; specifically an overdriven guitar. Overdrive results in a lot of higher order harmonics jumping out of the sound, and my guess is your little amp speaker simply cannot properly reproduce the overdrive as it should be. You're likely hearing a bit of dissonance (as AbstractDissonance and Alistair both pointed out).

Since the practice amplifier you named is solid state, I highly doubt any of the components in the tone stack or amp circuitry are on the fritz. Even cheaply built (please take no offense) solid state components can last a pretty long time assuming they are built within manufacturing tolerances.

There are also many, many additional factors that could be potentially causing the problem, but this is my best guess based on the information that I have currently. If you want to help us out further you could post some audio clips of the amplifier on overdriven and clean channels so that we can A/B them. Alternatively, if you're up to it, you could even post a quick video of your gear rundown and produce the problem on the spot. Those pieces would make it a whole lot easier to completely troubleshoot your issue, but right now I've given you my best shot :D.

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Oh, no offense taken. I really appreciate everyone's help. so, is the gist of it "You've got a cheap amp"? if so, what would you recommend for a good amp? –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 2:41
    
That depends on what you want to do with it :D. If you're looking for a practice amplifier, you could keep the one you have and deal with the crappy distorted sound--or if you want to one-up a little there's a couple of good entry level gigging tube/solid state amps out there. In any event, I would recommend getting an amplifier with at least a 10" speaker in it. That seems to be about the smallest you can go with for proper harmonic reproduction. –  Jduv Jan 30 '11 at 2:43
    
Ok, thanks. I'll look into that. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 2:48
    
Cool man. Not sure if you're new to SE or not, but bemember if you like the answer, to up vote it and whichever answer you deem best mark as the answer to your question. –  Jduv Jan 30 '11 at 3:01
    
Yeah I'm brand new here, just started my account this afternoon. I tried to up vote your answers but it said I needed 15 rep. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 3:26
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This could be a number of problems.

  1. Dissonance: This, in basic terms, is when two notes do not sound good together, and clash producing an unpleasant noise. However I have tried this out on my guitar and amp and I do not get any dissonance, so it may not be that.

  2. Amp/Speaker Problems: I have found, particularly with Line 6 Amps and Speakers, that when the bass and mid knobs are turned very high, the speaker cannot cope very well and produces and grinding feedbacky boom.

  3. Tuning problems: It may sound stupid and patronising of me, but are you perfectly in tune? According to both ear and tuner? If so, your guitar's intonation may be out. Any slight fault in an intonation setup causes the guitar to be out of tune with itself, and therefore notes that usually harmonise well may suddenly sound dissonant. This is greatly accentuated at higher frets, where strings will sound even worse if the intonation is out. See this previous question for help about intonation.

Distortion greatly increases the unpleasant dissonant sound, so that may explain why you do not find you have the problem on a clean setting.

Hope this helps.

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I don't think that is the case with my amp, because turning the Bass and Middle down did not help at all. Also, I'm confidant that the guitar is tuned correct, by tuner and by ear. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 0:56
    
Right, I would thoroughly check your tuning, strings, and intonation to make sure everything is all good. You mentioned that the guitar you used was not particularly expensive. Many lower end guitars are known not to come with the best of factory setups, so it is always worth checking. –  Ali Maxwell Jan 30 '11 at 1:00
    
Just did. Intonation and tuning is good. The strings are like new, no rust or anything. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 1:39
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Is the amp solid state, digital, or tube? Is the volume high or low, does reduce in gain and/or decrease with volume? Can you reproduce the sound without bending(could be an artifact bends not in tune). Is your guitar intonated properly?

Note that the guitar uses equal temperament and not all notes are in tube. m3rd's with a lot of distortion of a specific type can sound pretty bad. With class B tube amps you must turn them up because they have intermodulation distortion which is almost at a constant volume but can be masked with volume. That is, the louder the amp the less you will hear this type of distortion which is very annoying. Solid State can suffer from this too but digital won't.

Distortion adds harshness to a sound and it can be emphasized with certain notes and intervals. Distortion can come from a wide variety of places in an amp. Some good and some bad. Sometimes the "bad" distortion can be good in some context.

Naming the amp you have, if you can reproduce this sound on the clean channel with slight over drive, and a clip of the sound will help(although I think I know exactly what you are getting at as I have a similar issue with my amp ATM and I'm in the process of tweaking it to get a smoother distortion).

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To your first question, I'm sorry, I have no idea. It's a JA-010-G. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 1:15
    
The volume is rather low, though I did try it at a higher volume and the noise was still there. Volume appears to not affect it, and if there is any gain at all the noise will be there. but the noise is not there when I play it clean. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 1:37
    
And also, would you mind telling me how I could tweak my amp? –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 2:14
    
Seems the amp is a solid state so you shouldn't have to mess with anything. It could be possible that a transistor is failing OR the design of the amp simply is high distortion or biased improperly. Sometimes amps, if they are old or cheap can have components such as resistors or capacitors that drift off the standard value to such a degree to make the amp not function properly. First things first though, does the same problem happen when you play in different areas of the neck and/or with different notes? Could it possibly be due to uneven frets? –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 6:57
    
I had the frets leveled and polished professionally a little while ago, so I doubt it's that. And it just has that problem up the neck, but yes with different notes, but not if all the notes are on the same string. If you didn't see what I said further up, Thank you for taking the time and effort to answer my question. –  Anonymous Jan 30 '11 at 20:11
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Before "throwing out" your Amplifier I would suggest trying a different guitar! A good guitar with good mics will sound at least resonable through a bad amp, while a bad guitar will sound crappy even through the best amps. I looked at some reviews of your guitar since I am not familiar with that model and it seems like feedback noise is something that many people get with it... A more expensive amp will probably not fix your feedback issues either since the problem lies in the wiring of the mics. Hope this helps!

"It can't really handle being cranked through an amp too loud because it feeds back and isn't made for anything huge" http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/electric_guitars/first_act/me300/index.html

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Ok, thanks. I got it used, but in great condition for $70 so I figured "Oh, why not, I'll learn the electric guitar too." I reckon I'll piddle around on my friend's good equipment. Again, thanks for bringing up a new angle on my question. I didn't think that the problem might be that it's a cheap guitar! –  Anonymous Jan 31 '11 at 16:48
    
Have you tested another guitar? Usually all kinds of weird noises/feedbacks can come with cheap mics or bad wiring. The amp would be the last thing I would check in your case. –  mrbuxley Feb 2 '11 at 6:21
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