One of the best ways to add section transitions to a song is using naturally occurring “noise” that can be found in any live session. Things like room mics can be hyper-compressed for an effect and breathing around the vocal can make for a big transition as well (think about all of the songs where you hear a screamer take a deep breath before unleashing their voice in a track).
Perhaps just as common is guitar feedback – the screeching harsh build up of hi-gain ring when the guitarist isn’t playing at all. It’s a feature that many try to suppress and keep out of their tone, but one that can be used artistically when the inspiration strikes.
But if you’ve already wrapped on tracking for a song, or you’re somebody that records guitars with a DI, are you out of luck? Not with this simple trick.
Fake It If You Can’t Make It
If you have access to live amps, creating real feedback is actually pretty simple. Just point your pickups at the speaker and get close enough for the feedback to start happening on it’s own. The tonal characteristics are going to depend on many factors such as the type of pickups, type of amp, and the speaker being used.
If you’ve got time to experiment and a mic to record with, have at it.
On the other hand, you could always recreate feedback in the box with a basic signal generator.
Using a signal generator like Sub Destroyer give you more control over the pitch and resonance of your harmonics, as well as tuning capabilities that are rarely within your control in a live environment. It’s a relatively easy process that folds into your guitar mix perfectly when done right.
Making A Wave
Start by using a triangle wave setting on your signal generator to most closely match the waveform of overdriven guitar feedback. While the note doesn’t always have to match, I usually like to pick a single note that’s my fundamental frequency of the note or chord the feedback is leading into. I’ve also had some decent success using harmonics such as a third or fifth above the root, or even octaves above.
Create a wave that sounds most fitting for what you’re song needs and you’re most of the way there already.
Reamping Your Signal
Don’t worry – we can still stay in the box for this part of the process.
A signal generator alone isn’t enough to trick a listener into thinking they’re hearing feedback, but running it through a virtual guitar rig like Toneforge Guilty Pleasure will do the trick just tfine.
By staying inside your DAW, there’s very little additional routing and no worry about damaging physical equipment by running the signal out of your interface, through a reamp box, and into a live amp.
From there, you just need to set your amp to match the sound of your already tracked guitars and print the sound down to a feedback track of it’s own. For more details, check out Nick’s walkthrough below:
As you may have noticed, adding a fade to the start of the feedback can give a great impression of a guitarist turning up their volume knob to naturally fade in.
Other Post-Production Tricks
There are all kinds of things you can do after the recording session has ended, most of which can be applied all the way through the mixing stage. For the latest tips and tricks, be sure to subscribe to our channel on YouTube and never miss a tutorial about maximizing your creativity in the studio.
See you there!