From The Desk Of The Yawpers: Coping With Feedback On An Acoustic Guitar

Working-class rock—and that’s the bell the Yawpers ring again and again on American Man (Bloodshot)—has gone through a lot of permutations through the decades. This music is all over the map, stylistically; “Doing It Right” skews to amped-up speedway boogie, while the title cut and “Beale Street” bring more country trappings, though it’s a revved up country that would be totally alien to CMT. And there are left-field moments like “Kiss It” that go full-on dirty blooze hard rock. For all that variety, the music works well on its own merits. The Yawpers—singer/guitarist Nate Cook, guitarist Jesse Parmet and drummer Noah Shomberg—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Guitar

Parmet: One of the biggest challenges of playing an acoustic guitar in an aggressive rock ‘n’ roll band has been coping with feedback. This has gotten more difficult over the years, as we’ve become louder as a band. In the beginning, the drums were a lot more restrained, only occasionally using cymbals. My only effects pedal was a Tube Screamer. No amplifiers, just straight into the PA. A rubber feedback buster over the sound hole did the job for the most part. As my setup became more elaborate—two guitar amps, a bass rig and several overdrive pedals—drastic preventative measures became necessary. For a while I used a piece of gear called the Feedback Ferret, which uses an algorithm that can identify and suppress specific frequencies that are feeding back. During sound check, everyone would have to cover their ears while I intentionally made my guitar squeal. This was necessary in order for the Ferret to identify the problem frequencies, which differ from room to room. This method soon proved to be a real pain in the ass.

At this point I started experimenting with stuffing my guitars. Finding the best material for the job took some trial and error. After trying bubble wrap, newspaper and foam rubber, I finally found success using some old T-shirts. Really, any type of clothing will work. I just crammed them in there until I found the right balance, eliminating enough of the feedback without completely deadening the resonance of the guitar.

The other trick for me involves how I position my amplifiers onstage. Running through a stage monitor is problematic. I can’t have my guitar signal shooting out of a speaker facing directly toward me. I rely completely on my guitar amps for stage volume, and I need them to be loud. I’ve found that it’s best to face them toward the other band members at a 45-degree angle. This seems to make the feedback manageable while still giving me enough stage volume.