The effect I'm thinking of is when you don't hear the pick attack as you play a note, but you hear the note afterwards as it seems to get louder before decaying.

I suppose you can mimic this with a volume pedal but that seems a bit difficult. What are some good ways to make this effect?


5 Answers 5


Often called violining, either use the swell (volume) pedal or the volume pot on your guitar. Strat style guitars are pretty good for this, as Leo thought to put the volume control quite close to the strings/bridge, so a little finger can roll from palm to tip as you pluck the string. Then it gets rolled off again the opposite way, ready for the next note. Here's a video clip demonstrating this technique. On Teles and particularly things like Les Pauls and 335s, with the volume pot situated a way away from the strings, it's not so convenient.Some pedalboards have an inbuilt effect, but it's more controllable and effective when you do it for yourself.

  • +1, Nice bit of history on Leo & the Strat. Thank you. Also I would like to note that the guitar volume swell version assumes that your pots are clean and move without any noise. When clean and applied to a repeating delay line (2 to 5 seconds), this can be a beautiful way to layer diads, triads, and other chords.
    – filzilla
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 19:19
  • 2
    On Teles, you can reverse the control plate, then swap the pots, and achieve the same result. Steve Morse and many others have done this with great success.
    – Kirk A
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 20:12
  • A lot of tele players emulate a pedal steel with the volume pot in its original wiring, so it's doable with a stock one too. Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 4:34

One way to get this effect is with an envelope filter. Then you will get it automatically, as the volume starts at 0 when the string is plucked, and then increases (with the correct settings).

  • Can one get the envelope filter to automatically trigger on the pick attack or does the guitarist need to follow the beat (period) of the filter?
    – filzilla
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 19:27
  • 1
    @filzilla: The filter is triggered by the tone, so you don't have to keep time. I believe the effect is usually done with the volume pot, so it might not be the exact same effect, but I've got similar tones with an envelope. Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 19:33
  • The boss slow gear (SG-1) is by far the most widely known device for this.
    – Fergus
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 0:00

Another option would be to use an EBow (Electronic Bow). As its names suggests, this device can be used to create bowing effects like a violin or cello.


I'm a Tele player, and I learned the trick from Danny Gatton's Hot Licks instructional tape, where he showed how to cut away some of the attack with volume swells, and also tone swells. He did this on a Tele with standard control plate setup. Simply, you wrap your pinky around the volume knob.

(Jeff Beck uses a tone swell for the train horn lick at the intro to the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A' Rollin'".)

I went to a reversed control plate (volume, tone, switch instead of switch, volume, tone) so I can reach these knobs more easily. I still do that, but lately, I've taken to using a Morley volume pedal to do this, so I have fewer things going on with my hands.


One technique that hasn't been mentioned is acoustic feedback. It's probably less tricky with double-coil pickups which are less prone to magnetic feedback bypassing the strings altogether.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.