Tag Archives: Squels

Hell’s Bells – Part 3 – Dimebag Darrell Squeal Lesson

Squeal Like A Pig! – Dimebag Darrell Squeal Lesson and harmonic Lesson

What’s up Dad, we’re back! Last issue we got into using the whammy bar to make natural harmonics scream back up to pitch. In this column we’re gonna be using the bar to to pull these jewels up to notes that are higher than their regular pitch. One example is screaming the harmonic at the 4th fret (regular pitch is B) on the G string all the way up to D (Figure 1).

Dimebag Darrell Squeal Lesson & Harmonic Lessons
Figure 1
Listen Figure 1

For you to be able to able to do this your bridge needs to be floating so you can yank the bar up as well as push it down. It’s up to you to decide how you set your bridges up, but just so you know, I have my Floyd set up so that I’m able to pull a note on the G string up about two-and-and-half steps.

Basically, the technique you need to get these high-pitched bitch-bastards screaming is exactly the same as the one we talked about last month: flick the string with your left hand, dump the bar down, lightly tap the harmonic you want and then let the whammy come back up real smoothly–so the harmonic squeals. The only difference is that this time out you’ve gotta pull up on your bar, so that the harmonic goes past its regular pitch and up to the note you want the “scream” to end on. To do this you’ve gotta use your ears as well as your hands–your hands do the work and your ears tell ’em how far to go.

Learn More Squeal Lesson on Part 1 and Part 2


To pull a harmonic up to an exact higher pitch requires some pretty close control of the bar. I’ve found that with the bar pointing towards the back of my guitar–towards the end strap button–I can more accurately get the note I’m aiming for, because I have to push down on the bar to get there– think about it! But whenever I’m aiming for a gut-wrenching squeal, I go for it with the bar facing the front. There’s a different feel to both ways, so experiement to find which one works best for you. Backwards or forwards? The choice is yours.

Anyway, enough rapping about whammy bars and shit; let’s get into some jamming. To get cooking on this new idea, check out FIGURE 2.

Dimebag Darrell Squeal Lesson & Harmonic Lessons
Figure 2
Listen Figure 2

This has you screaming the harmonic at the fifth fret of the G string up to four different notes: G (return to pitch); A (up a whole step); B (up two steps) and C (up two-and-a-half steps). I’ve got you hitting a power chord before each scream, so you can hear the pitch you’re aiming for just before you go for it with the harmonic. Use your ears and pay atention to the pitch. Once you’ve got FIGURE 2 down, try FIGURE 3, whichi s the same exact deal except without the power chords to help you out. This time you’re flying blind!

Dimebag Darrell Squeal Lesson & Harmonic Lessons
Figure 3
Listen Figure 3

Once you can nail FIGURE 3 every time, you’re ready to start cuttin’ up. Try squealing every harmonic you can find on every string, and never be afraid to experiment; that’s how most of us come up with some of our coolest shit. The great thing about this technique is you can use it to make your guitar sing a melody or just squeal wildly outta control–it’s up to you.

To finish up, I’m gonna leave you with a challenge, FIGURE 4.

Whammy Bar lesson - Dimebag Darrell
Figure 4
Listen Figure 4

This is the first melodic squeal at the end of Cemetery Gates (Cowboys From Hell), where I follow Philip’s vocal melody. Here I scream the harmonic at the 4th fret on the G string up to E, which is two-and-a-half steps above its resting pitch of B. Then, after holding it there for a measure, I drop it smoothly down to C, which is half a step above its resting pitch. The tough thing about FIGURE 4 is that you never get to use the harmonic’s resting pitch (B) as a reference point–you’re either above or below it, but never on it. Good luck–and if you get this one right, treat yourself to a six-pack of beer!

Learn More Squeal Lesson / Whammy Bar Tricks on Part 1 and Part 2

Hell’s Bells – Harmonics – Part 2 – Dimebag Darrell Lesson

What’s shakin’, tough guy? Like I promised at the end of last month’s column, this time I’m gonna light you up on how to do “harmonic squeals,” like the ones at the end of “Cemetery Gates” (Cowboys From Hell). A bunch of you have written in asking about this technique. Thanks for all your letters; keep ’em coming, man!

To get “harmonic screams” (same shit, different term) happening, you need a whammy bar. So, if your axe doesn’t have one, then you’re gonna have to sit this lesson out-sorry, dude! Also, just so you know, we’re gonna be doing some pretty brutal dives that will definitely knock a non-locking tremolo system way out of tune. So a locking one, like a Floyd Rose-type, is kind of essential.

In case you’re not exactly sure what I mean by a harmonic scream, there’s a real long, slow one in “This Love” (Vulgar Display Of Power) which starts at 6:21 (CD time) and runs to the very end of the track. You can also hear me doing a bunch of them in “Cemetery Gates, ” between 6:14 and the end, where I imitate Phil’s [Anselmo, Pantera’s vocalist] screams. I love that sort of vocal stuff, but there’s no way in hell I can do it with my voice-I don’t have that kinda range! So, harmonic screams are my way of “singing out”, using my guitar instead of my throat. That’s why I really dig this technique.

I stumbled on harmonic squeals when I was dicking around one day. A lot of people think I use a harmonizer or a [Digitech] Whammy Pedal to do them, but I don’t; all I use is my bar and some natural harmonics. To make harmonics scream, I first dump my Floyd Rose real quick, hit a harmonic with my left hand while the string is still flapping, and then use the bar to pull it up to the pitch I wanna hit.

If this sounds kinda complex to you, don’t schiz; it’s actually a pretty simple thing to do once you’ve got the technique down. So, let’s learn how to do a real basic harmonic scream in “slow motion,” by breaking the idea down into four easy steps. Let’s use the harmonic that’s directly above the 5th fret on the G string (‘cos it’s a pretty easy one to nail) and make it “scream” up to its original pitch of G. First though, dial up a distorted sound (remember, gain helps harmonics happen) and switch to your lead (bridge) pickup.

Step 1: Position your left hand so you’re ready to hit the 5th-fret harmonic on the G string with your bird (middle) finger. Then mute the high E and B strings with your left-hand index finger, and the low E, A and D with your thumb by wrapping it around the top of the neck.

Step 2: Flick the G string with your bird finger and dump the bar down to the pitch you want the scream to start out at. You can take the bar down as little or as far as you want; just don’t take it down too far, or the string will die of shock and the harmonic won’t happen.

Step 3: As soon as the bar is dumped, sound the harmonic by lightly tapping the G string directly above the 5th fret with your bird finger. While you’re doing this, make sure you’re still keeping the other strings quiet with your thumb and index finger.

Step 4: As soon as you’ve hit the harmonic, release pressure on the bar and let the G string return back up to pitch. As long as you’ve sounded the harmonic properly, it’ll “scream” up to G (as shown in Figure 1).

Figure 1
Listen Figure 1

The first few times you do this you’re gonna hear the open G string “growl” before the scream starts happening. This is just because you’re doing everything in slow motion. Once you’ve got this technique down, though, you won’t hear the growl because you’ll be doing the first three steps so quickly they’ll almost be simultaneous. If it takes you some time to get these squeals happening, don’t skid-it took me a while too.

Work on this technique until you can nail FIGURE 1 no problem, then move onto FIGURE 2.

Figure 2
Listen Figure 2

This one stays on the G string but has you “screaming” a bunch of different harmonics up to pitch. The last one can be a bitch to hit, but stick with it ‘cos it sounds real cool when you nail it. Once you get this one down, try doing the same thing on the other five strings.

Shit, I’m outta space. Bust a nut on FIGURE 2, ‘cos next month we’ll be cranking these sons-of-bitches so high that dogs’ll be barking! Time for me to unhook! Gotta book! Until next time, don’t forget how ripper the guitar sounds. So GET SOME OF IT *#$%* damn it! Lata!