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?

  • 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, 2013 at 16:59
  • Couple tips- noise suppressor only really effects hum and noise introduced from noisy pickups or effects. Most people put them last in the effects chain to reduce noise generated from effects pedals. Also, you generally want OD pedals in the signal before the amp, and save the effects loop for modulation effects and delays/reverbs. OD sounds best when it pushes the preamp which comes before the effects loop. With high gain setups you have to be very conscious of string muting, whenever there is a break in the song you have to keep the strings from vibrating so the guitar/amp won't feedback.
    – charlie
    Sep 21, 2014 at 13:09
  • I see you are talking about the NS-2 effects loop (I was talking about the amp effects loop above).. mostly the same answer though, I like to keep OD early in the chain and noise suppressor at the end. None of this will fight feedback too much though, that mostly comes down to playing technique and proper amp settings. (this might help if you want to try NS-2 loop, probably won't kill the feedback though.)
    – charlie
    Sep 21, 2014 at 13:27
  • Moving the NS-2 to the end of the chain helped a bit, but adding an EQ pedal that's flat except for the highest two frequencies down all the way took care of the bulk of the problem, along with tweaking the amp and OD EQ settings. It's interesting, I have an Explorer with the exact same pickups that doesn't have this issue, but they're wired differently b/c they have the push/pull pots to emulate single coils.
    – jrummell
    Sep 22, 2014 at 12:55
  • For what it's worth (this question is still getting traffic for some reason), I think the main issue was the guitar (pickups or wiring, pots, etc). I switched to a different guitar and used the same amp and pedal board and had no issues with squeal.
    – jrummell
    Feb 25, 2019 at 16:24

8 Answers 8


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 there 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.

  • 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, 2013 at 18:29

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.

  • 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, 2013 at 16:39
  • Can you recommend a good compressor/noise gate pedal?
    – jrummell
    Mar 22, 2013 at 20:35
  • I have used a few. Quite liked the Boss NS2 last time I used one.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Mar 22, 2013 at 22:16

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!!!


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.


  • 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... Jun 4, 2014 at 11:49

just letting you know I had this EXACT same problem. Same guitar and boss noise suppressor. There are two things I did that fixed the problem...

1) Try putting the pick up switch on the bridge pickup, and turn the bridge pickups tone all the way down. Unfortunately this absolutely murders your tone and makes it sound kinda muddy, but depending on the specific sub genre you're playing it might not matter.

2) Just switch the bridge pickup out. The reason you get feedback is because the pickups can't handle high gain, so just get a SM Duncan or something similar.

Hope this works for you!


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.

  • The high concentration of run on sentences makes this very difficult to read. -1, though the content is fine.
    – user45266
    Feb 25, 2019 at 5:01

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.

  1. Rack gate your specific frequencies needed.
  2. Eq before and after preamp.
  3. Dime gain and clean it up. You'll cut through then and melt some faces.

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