How to Make a Screech Sound on Your Guitar Fret Board

by Steven French

Some genres of music are geared toward pleasant sounds, while other genres such as heavy metal often include a healthy dose of dissonant sounds and harsh sound effects. One of the most popular sound effects to make on a guitar is a screeching sound. There are two ways to accomplish a screeching sound. The first is called a "pick scrape" and the second is called a "pinch harmonic." Both effects are usually played along with a distortion or overdrive effect, which enhances the sound of the techniques.

Items you will need

  • Guitar
  • Distortion effect pedal (optional)
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Pick Scrape Technique

Step 1

Grip the pick normally and pluck the low string or an entire chord.

Step 2

Rotate the pick around 45 degrees and slide the thin edge of the pick from the bottom of the lowest string up the fretboard toward the head of the guitar.

Step 3

Experiment by adding hard or soft pressure, holding different frets or playing different chords to find the best combination for the effect you wish to create.

Pinch Harmonic Technique

Step 1

Grip the pick in your fingers so that your index finger is nearly overlapping the small tip of the pick.

Step 2

Pluck the string with the pick located right above the fifth fret but do not hold down any frets with your other hand. Immediately after plucking the string with the pick, let your index finger that is holding the pick brush the string right above the fifth fret as well. Practice the technique until a high-pitch screeching effect is created.

Step 3

Hold down any fret on one of the strings with your other hand, then move up five frets higher and try the same plucking technique. The effect works on any string and any fret, as long as you pluck five, seven or 12 frets higher than the fret you are holding with your other hand.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your guitar has a whammy bar or tremolo bar, try using it after the pinch harmonic technique to bend the screeching effect up and down in pitch.

Photo Credits

  • Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images