Reducing String Squeaking Noises

Posted on Posted in Tips from Mark


The Problem: Moving fretting fingers laterally along strings when shifting positions is an inherent part of playing a guitar. But, as most of us know, it can cause bothersome non-musical screeching sounds on round-wound strings. A player can reduce this noise through choice of strings (coated or flatwound strings), but let’s disuss what you might do with your hands.

A Solution: As explained in an earlier Tip from Mark, RELAXING your fretting hand is a key to reducing string screeching. Before you leave a chord position, relax your fretting hand as you prepare to move. This simple relaxation technique likely will considerably reduce the volume of the unwanted noise.
To totally eliminate the screeching, lift your fingers ever so slightly off the strings as you move laterally. Then squeeze again when you arrive. Many of you play my tune “Canyon Canon” – it’s all over YouTube. Apply this “relax and lift” lesson to that tune.

An Exercise: Play a first-position C chord in standard tuning. Slide this shape up to the 6th/7th/8th frets, where it becomes an F-chord sound, but is still a C shape. Experiment with relaxing the fretting hand before moving, and also with maintaining pressure on the strings as you move. Notice the difference.

This ‘relaxation’ idea is very subtle at performance tempo. Practice the ‘squeeze/relax/squeeze/relax’ exercise on the C chord slowly at first. When your fretting hand is relaxed and the strings have lifted off the fretwires, slide up to the other position. Hopefully the screeching is reduced.
More soon.

2 thoughts on “Reducing String Squeaking Noises

    1. Glad that works, Les. It’s certainly a common string type amongst jazz players. But on an acoustic flatwounds do take some of the brilliance away from bronze strings. Make sure your fretting hand is as relaxed as possible when you move!

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