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I am a noob at playing electric, having mostly played accoustic guitar/banjo.

I have an electro acuoustic guitar with a piezo pickup in the saddle, and an old Zoom gfx 1 from my teenage days in a rock band. When I use the distorted settings on the box, the guitar picks up a lot of sound from the room, I can sing into the guitar and hear myself well.

I would love to know a bit more about what causes this, and how to combat it.

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  • A bit of context: I have joined a band that plays pop-rock-ish music, where some songs benefit from distortion on the guitar sound. I have an electric guitar, but it would be nice to be able to avoid switching guitars when possible. We play through a computer when we practice. The noise got so bad that you could hear the drummer hit the electronic drums clearly from the guitar, lol. When one of the guys add the distortion at the computer, the problem disappears.
    – Petter TB
    Feb 12, 2020 at 17:17

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Piezo sensors are pressure sensors: they deform slightly and an electric current is generated by the deformation; sound is a pressure wave in a medium; the hollow-body of a guitar is an amplifying device; piezo pickups leverage the hollow-body resonance. At a certain ambient volume level, the guitar becomes very similar to a large unwieldy microphone.

Ambient sounds are always being amplified by the sound box of the hollow-body guitar even without a pickup. Solid body electric guitars do also pick up ambient vibration, but the solid body resists changes in momentum better than the thin wood of a hollow body. A solid body acts as a sink for vibration.

As far as your comment about the distortion method impacting the effect, my expectation is that the pedal "front-loads" the gain a lot more than the computer workflow. Experiment by lowering the pedal gain and/or output and raising the amplifier volume.

The placement of the output source with respect to you is also a potential factor. If you go through the computer to a PA system, and the PA is pointed away from you and 5 feet away, then the feedback result can be quite different than if the output speaker was pointed at you and next to your pedal.

Yelling into the soundhole of an electric acoustic is a well-attested technique by the way.

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  • The difference was very pronounced, it went from being barely noticeable, to wondering what was wrong with the drum set. We practice without a PA, through headphones, so that is not an issue (yet). It isn't as much feedback, as picking up the ambient sound of the room (so no high pitched screetching).
    – Petter TB
    Feb 12, 2020 at 21:19
  • "As far as your comment about the distortion method impacting the effect, my expectation is that the pedal "front-loads" the gain a lot more than the computer workflow. Experiment by lowering the pedal gain and/or output and raising the amplifier volume." Hmm. So, having the gain "later" in the system is better? Use less gain on the pedal?
    – Petter TB
    Feb 12, 2020 at 21:20
  • There are a lot of factors involved, but bear in mind a fuzz or distortion pedal can add 40dB or more when used as expected. The overall sensation of volume may not get louder because the signal is clipping, but the floor is so high it is "at the ceiling" and then you amplify it.
    – Yorik
    Feb 12, 2020 at 21:38

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