#1
I have been looking into buying a hollow body guitar for a long time now. The only warnings I have gotten when mentioning on my intentions to buy one was always, "just be mindful of the feedback."

This got me wondering, what causes the feedback? Is it the pickups, the way they're constructed, or something else?

I constantly see two arguments; One group of people say it is the pickups that do it, another say its the vibration from the top of the guitar that does it?

Does anyone here have any explanation as to what causes this feedback? The vibrations explanation sounds fine, but then why do jazzmasters feedback so much?

Will I have a problem with a hollow body guitar with some fat humbuckers in there?
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#2
You would have more of a problem with feedback if you somehow found one with single coils in it...

I'm not too sure but I believe the feedback is caused by the fact that they have hollow bodies, the air inside vibrates and causes the strings to vibrate a lot more easily than a solid body which exagerrates what causes feedback in the first place. If I'm right anyway, I'm not too sure.

Either way, you can still play whatever you want on one, just if you're going to use a load of gain you might want to be very careful about volume and where you stand in relation to the amp: stay out of the direct front of the amp; use at least a noise gate if not two; you can pack the body with foam or something; there are ways of getting around it. Hell, if Pepper Keenan from Down can make a hollowbody work for metal festivals then I'm sure you can.
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#3
Thank you for your insight! And haha, I'm not looking to play metal. Mostly some folk rock, but I want to start an interesting project that crosses folk indie and some post hardcore elements and I want to see what kind of unique sounds I can get out of a hollow body. Sounds weird, but there is a similar band close by that does it and it sounds awesome.


Regardless, people please keep posting explanations.
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#4
Haha, I wasn't assuming that you'd play metal, I was trying to say that if it's possible to make it work under those kinds of conditions then I'm sure you can get it to work for whatever your purposes are
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#5
If my understanding of feedback is correct, it happens when too much of the noise coming out of your amp (yes, your amp) is fed back into your pickups, and out through the amp again. With a hollowbody guitar, the vibrations from your amp are more easily picked up and fed back.

Anyone can feel free to correct me. My understanding of feedback is limited.
#6
Well, what is feedback? It's exactly what it says on the tin: the sound from your amp making your strings resonate, which feeds back into the amp, making your strings resonate again... With a hollow or semi-hollow body that is built to resonate to make a bigger sound, the feedback must be greater.

Pickups would be a separate issue, but I imagine single coils would be more susceptible. Tosin Abasi from Animals As Leaders uses some semi-hollows live, and he has no problem coaxing a massive metal tone out of it.
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#8
Don't stand in front of the amp, and be active on the guitar's master volume control and you won't have feedback issues with a hollow body. I play a Sparrow Big Daddy with P90s with minimal issues.
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#9
Quote by AcousticMirror
Nothing. What feedback.

Someday you're going to plug a big old jazz box into an amp with the gain up and lightbulbs are going to go off.

The guitar's more sensitive to vibrations because it has a much higher vibrating surface area (inside and outside!) and much lower vibrating mass compared to solid bodies. More sensitivity = more sympathetic vibration from the amp = feedback.
#10
Quote by Roc8995
Someday you're going to plug a big old jazz box into an amp with the gain up and lightbulbs are going to go off.

The guitar's more sensitive to vibrations because it has a much higher vibrating surface area (inside and outside!) and much lower vibrating mass compared to solid bodies. More sensitivity = more sympathetic vibration from the amp = feedback.


still looking. never found a guitar that i couldn't control. never found a solidbody that didnt do the exact same thing as a hollow.
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#11
I'm with you on the ability to control it, but my Falcon will feed back with a completely clean jazz amp at conversation levels with the right coaxing, while my strat won't do it with that amp at any volume unless it's physically touching the amp. I'm just baffled you haven't run into this.
#12
Quote by Roc8995
I'm with you on the ability to control it, but my Falcon will feed back with a completely clean jazz amp at conversation levels, while my strat won't do it with that amp at any volume unless it's physically touching the amp. I'm just baffled you haven't run into this.


no i do...

but what's the standard for feedback.

hollowbodies came first.

solidbodies came later.

so it would be acceptable to say that solidbodies feedback less.

and hollowbodies tend to feedback the normal amount.

not the sissy amount.
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#13
I play w/ an Epi Casino and i never get feedback unless my volume and gain is at the highest. However when i use my Sennheiser headphones, i hear no feedback whatsoever.
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#14
The other issue with a hollowbody is that the top itself vibrates, and since the pick-ups are mounted on the top, they pick-up vibrations from the top, as well as vibrations from the strings themselves. So the feedback path is sound from the amp, vibrating the top of the guitar, in turn vibrating the pick-ups.

Good quality acoustic guitars used solid-spruce tops, similar wood to what is used in the soundboards of pianos. The intent in both cases is for the top to vibrate in sympathy to the string vibration. (Both in pianos and in acoustic guitars, solid-spruce is preferred to laminated spruce. And generally speaking more grain-lines per inch is viewed as better. Sitka spruce is viewed as being especially good.)

Archtop hollowbodies in the pre-electronics days also used spruce tops, as the intent was to get a reasonable amount of sound without amplification.

Maple and other hardwoods don't resonate as much as spruce, making them a better choice for when pick-ups are mounted directly onto the top (and therefore when you don't want much resonance from the top).

The Gibson ES-335 basically introduced the concept of a semi-hollowbody, as it has solid wood running under the pick-ups, preventing most of the transfer of top vibrations to the pick-ups. But it still has the hollow "wings" on either side, giving a partial effect of a hollowbody.

Even with a perfectly rigid solidbody, you can still get feedback - the sound from the amp directly being picked-up by the pick-ups. (Picture Jimi holding his Strat up in front of a 4x12 speaker cabinet.) Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that the sound from the amp directly vibrates the strings a bit, which is picked up by the pick-ups. It just takes higher volumes.
Last edited by rschleicher at Aug 26, 2011,