Watch the Pedal Notes online guitar lesson by Matthieu Brandt from Chord Cookbook

In the previous section the open E and B strings kept ringing through all the chords we played. This ‘sustain’ effect is called a pedal and the notes that keep ringing in your ear are called pedal notes or pedal points. These pedal points can be used to create a dissonant, dramatic effect or a sense of impending doom. In most cases that pedal note is the tonic of the key, but sometimes the fifth of the scale is used. On a guitar this works best if you sustain the highest note (or notes) or if you keep the bass note in the bottom the same.