How to Make Cool Noises With an Electric Guitar


While you can spend hundreds of dollars on special effects to get different sounds from your guitar, all you really need is a creative imagination and experimentation. The electric guitar, in combination with an amplifier set at various volume and tone levels, is capable of making all sorts of cool noises without expensive special effects. Learning to create these noises and use them in the music you make can not only add color to your playing, but can also help you impress your family and friends with your ingenuity.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric guitar
  • Pick
  • Paper towels
  • Lighter
  • Place your pick under the lowest string on your guitar, then slip it up and over the next string. These are your E and A strings. Grasp your pick between your thumb and index finger and twist the two strings twice with the pick. Slide the pick up to the seventh fret of your guitar to lock the strings in place. Now turn up your guitar and set it to a clean sound rather than distortion. Pluck the lowest string. This gives you an authentic church bell sound, similar to the sound heard at the beginning of AC/DC's "Hell's Bells." The louder you turn it up, the cooler it sounds.

  • Turn your amplifier up until you are on the verge of feedback, then take a lighter of any kind. A plastic disposable lighter works well. You can also use a metal guitar slide if you have one. Start up high on the neck of the guitar and drag the lighter from about the twelfth fret to the eighth fret, then quickly move it back to the twelfth fret and to the fifth fret. Continue this pattern up and down the low E string with the lighter to create the sound of a motorcycle or a car shifting gears.

  • Create a bomb drop and explosion sound effect if your guitar has a whammy bar (tremolo bar). Again, turn the volume up to near feedback level, take hold of your whammy bar and slowly pull it toward you, then gradually depress the whammy bar. Allow the feedback to creep in as you depress to create the whistle of a dropping bomb. Depress all the way to create the explosion. The louder the better.

  • Slide a wad of paper towels under all six strings of your guitar, between the strings and the body of the guitar. Make adjustments to the paper towel until all of the strings sound. The paper towel dampens the strings but still allows them to ring. This trick allows you to make your electric guitar sound just like a banjo. You'll need to turn up the amp to allow the dampened strings to sound louder. This will convince anyone who isn't looking at you that they are actually listening to a real banjo. Also, simply playing your guitar strings up near the bridge of the guitar will make your electric sound like an acoustic/electric.

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  • Photo Credit electric guitar image by Jeffrey Zalesny from
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