Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Fun With Torture

Practical jokes to drive your bandmates crazy

Sure, playing music is fun, but do you know what far exceeds the joys of a live performance? Punishing your band-mates. Here are a few tried and true practical jokes which will mean big laughs for you and frustration, self-loathing, and perhaps tears and/or loss of employment for your friends with whom you share the stage. Remember, the secret to comedy is timing. Play these right and you will enjoy legendary status; blow the delivery and your only legacy will be shame.

Materials: One fuzz pedal, two 15” guitar cables, a guitar amp with an effects loop, one hapless victim.

The set up: Stealthily hook a fuzz pedal up to the effects loop of the victim’s amp. Place the fuzz pedal by your pedalboard and turn it all the way up. When you are half way into your second song, surreptitiously stomp on the fuzz, leaving it on for no more than two seconds and watch the panic and annoyance on the victim’s face. Repeat throughout the night.

A friend of mine, Bob Whitmer, inflicted great emotional and physical pain on a guitar player in his band throughout an entire hour set with this gag. After the sneaky wiring setup, Bob engaged the fuzz ten minutes into the set, unleashing an immediate cacophony of feedback.

The victim turned around and smacked his amp a few times, then Bob turned off the fuzz. The victim surmised that a wire or tube was loose and all it needed was a good pounding. Five minutes later Bob engages the fuzz again, the victim beats his amp again; this time Bob waits twenty seconds, allowing the amp to takes its lumps, before he turns off the fuzz. This continues for the entire set, with each session of feedback growing in length and intensity while amp abuse increases in ferociousness. Regrettably, the set was only an hour long and during the break the dupe found the lines running in and out of his effect loop. The stress induced from Bob’s genius prank probably took a few years off the life of both the amp and the guitar player while simultaneously torturing the audience with earsplitting feedback and therefore ranks as one of the most brilliant bits of performance art I’ve ever witnessed.

Keyboard players lean toward anal retention, maybe because they grew up with mommy taking them to music lesson. Here’s a devilish deceit that will torture your uptight schoolmarm of a keyboardist.

Materials: Strong transparent tape (Scotch Tape) and one persnickety keyboardist working with a keyboard, not a conventional piano.

The set up: During soundcheck, ask to have keys spread around the stage mix so they are fairly omnipresent in the monitor mix, not so loud as to arise suspicion but loud enough to make any clams obvious. After soundcheck, sneak over to the keyboardist’s rig and tape the C above middle C to the parallel B key. Apply the tape generously underneath the keys so as not to be seen or felt. When the keyboardist hits that C/B cluster for the first time, look over at him with a friendly it-happens-to-the-best-of-us smile. When he hits it again, smile and shrug your shoulders in a forgiving manner. The next time, hopefully during a piano driven ballad, give him a WTF? glare. Escalate to full on, unforgiving rage. When the ruse comes to light, go Clinton on him: deny, deny, deny. Remain smug and unforgiving and watch the formerly condescending keyboardist crumble. Oh, how the mighty fall.

Materials: Hard hitting, Neanderthal drummer, dark stage, one bottle of baby powder.

The set up: After soundcheck, sneak onto the dark stage shortly before the show starts. Gingerly pour half a bottle of baby powder onto the snare head. Make it even so that it becomes indistinguishable from the white drum head. This prank works best with a new, white head. You may consider giving your drummer a new white snare head for Christmas both as a kind gesture and a cunning set up for his undoing.

When it’s time to play, occupy the drummer with a conversation right up until the last free second, forcing both of you to rush to the stage. Perform this with military precision so he arrives behind his kit seconds before the first downbeat. Ideally, your set should start with a drum-heavy rocker. When he smacks that snare for the first time a mushroom cloud of baby powder will engulf the entire kit. If he’s a dedicated musician, he will continue to play through the gagging thick fog of white, sending out more white bombs of powder every two and four beats. Bonus points if it’s a high profile gig with a mandatory black dress code.

An imaginative lark well-executed will get people slapping their knees, giggling and buying you drinks for the rest of your life— it’s the currency of late night hysterics. Pull off these beauties and enjoy your new status as the funniest person in the room. One small disclaimer: it may not be a good idea to inflict these jokes on anybody who lacks a sense of humor and is bigger than you. If you decide to go this dangerous route, keep your operation clandestine, like a man who steals a Van Gogh, locks it in a hidden room within his house and enjoys it alone with a nice red wine.

The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview
The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview on Johnny’s New Songwriter Album

The Man in Black returns with the unreleased Songwriter album. John Carter Cash tells us the story.

Read MoreShow less
Full Slash Interview
Full Slash Interview on New Blues Album, S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival, Guitar Gear, Pedal Steel & More

The guitar icon shares what went into making his chart-topping blues album and what gear fans can expect to see at the S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Blues Festival tour.

This 1968 Epiphone Al Caiola Standard came stocked with P-90s and a 5-switch Tone Expressor system.

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

The session ace’s signature model offers a wide range of tones at the flip of a switch … or five.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. Not long ago, I came home late from a band rehearsal, still overly excited about the new songs we played. I got myself a coffee (I know, it's a crazy procedure to calm down) and turned on the TV. I ended up with an old Bonanza episode from the ’60s, the mother of all Western TV series. Hearing the theme after a long time instantly reminded me of the great Al Caiola, who is the prolific session guitarist who plays on the song. With him in mind, I looked up the ’60s Epiphone “Al Caiola” model and decided I want to talk about the Epiphone/Gibson Tone Expressor system that was used in this guitar.

Read MoreShow less

Slinky playability, snappy sounds, and elegant, comfortable proportions distinguish an affordable 0-bodied flattop.

Satisfying, slinky playability. Nice string-to-string balance. Beautiful, comfortable proportions.

Cocobolo-patterned HPL back looks plasticky.


Martin 0-X2E


Embracing the idea of an acoustic flattop made with anything other than wood can, understandably, be tricky stuff. There’s a lot of precedent for excellent-sounding acoustics built with alternative materials, though. Carbon-fiber flattops can sound amazing and I’ve been hooked by the sound and playability of Ovation and Adamas instruments many times.

Read MoreShow less