Have you ever wondered how Eddie Van Halen, Adrian Belew and many other great guitarists get that really cool ‘herd of elephants’ type sound? If so, the Eddie Van Halen ‘Elephant guitar sound’ isn’t too hard and can really stand out in your own playing. Read below to find out how to play it.

What you will need.

  • A volume pedal or be comfortable playing and using the volume dial of the guitar.
  • A whammy bar (ideally a Floyd Rose locking system)
  • The ability to harmonics
  • Lots of gain

With the volume turned off (either depressing the volume pedal or turning your guitar’s volume all the off) play these harmonics in this order:

  • 5th fret – 3rd string
  • 7th fret – 2nd string
  • 12th fret – 1st string

Then push your whammy in to slightly detune the harmonics and then turn up the volume all the way up.

Now, play about with the amount of pressure you use pushing and pulling on the whammy bar. This bit requires a bit of subtly. The methods outlined here should all be done quickly and as smoothly as possible.

The sound should now be loud and noisy like an angry herd of elephants ready to go rampaging throughout the African safari.

Here is a video showing you how to achieve this awesome elephant guitar sound.

Once you have the Eddie Van Halen ‘Elephant guitar sound’ nailed, try using it in your own songs.

It makes for a great intro while the drummer and bass player are playing a solid groove. You can then kick into the next section with a big riff or a more conventional lead. It also makes for a cool instrumental breakdown, or you can even use it to break up a more melodic sounding guitar solo.

Whatever you use it for have fun with this one minute guitar trick. 

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