How to Play a Creepy Song on Guitar


The distance between two notes is called an interval. Each interval has a different tonal characteristic. For example, major thirds sound happy, while minor thirds sound melancholy. The diminished fifth interval has a distinctly eerie, or "creepy" sound. Alice Cooper, Slayer and Korn are some of the high profile artists that have produced creepy sounding recordings using this sound on guitar. Playing your own creepy song on guitar can make for an atmospheric introduction at your next show.

  • Turn the machine head one quarter of a counter-clockwise revolution. This will de-tune the top E string slightly so it is marginally flat. The flat E string will clash with the B string and cause dissonance.

  • Place your second finger on the second fret of the A string, to make a B note. Place your third finger on the second fret of the D string, to make an E note. This is an E minor chord shape. Strum all six strings from top to bottom and let the strings ring. The out of tune top E string will clash with the other, correctly tuned strings to create a wobbly, phasing sound.

  • Strum all six strings again. Gently pluck the bottom E string four times per measure to create a droning sound.

  • Slide your second finger from fret two on the A string to fret one. This changes the note from B to B flat. The interval between the two fretted notes therefore changes from a perfect fourth to a diminished fifth. The slightly atonal character of the diminished fifth, combined with the droning low E and the out of tune top E, creates a deep resonating sound.

  • Slide your second finger back up to B every four measures to give your song a harmonic structure. Repeat this pattern for sixteen measures.

  • Pluck the bottom E on its own. The other droning strings will gradually fade out. Slow down the tempo of the plucking. This change in dynamics draws focus toward the low E note.

  • Put your second finger on the second fret of the top E string, to create an F sharp note. Play the F sharp once then place your third finger on the third fret of the top E string to make a G note. Play the G once, then play F sharp, then play the open E. This four note pattern is similar to the top line melody in the theme music from "The Twilight Zone." Including a reference to a well-known creepy song in your own song adds an element of familiarity to proceedings.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your guitar has a tremolo arm, dip each droning note to create a sinking sound.

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  • Photo Credit Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
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