A guitar can produce some of the most pleasing sounds in the world, but it can also create annoying creaking noises as a result of the interaction between a musician’s finger and the strings. This is a common problem for guitarists, and newbies aren’t the only ones who want to know how to stop their guitar strings from squeaking.
When playing an unplugged acoustic instrument, the unwanted squeaking sounds won’t be manifesting itself too obviously. That is until you start performing in larger venues with much louder sound systems or begin recording your guitar in a studio, giving the grating squeals of your strings to be amplified and all the more irritating.
Even though it is impossible to make these squeaks totally disappear, there are a number of ways to diminish these loud string noises. You may opt for a couple of solutions using computer recording technology or even some good old baby powder. Keep in mind however, that fixing squeaks will start with the way you play your instrument.
Why are my guitar strings so squeaky?
For some beginners, the squeaking sound of their guitars may cause some alarm, but worry not for this is a normal phenomenon caused by friction. The hand can get sweaty at times as well and the moisture and acidity being secreted by your palms can worsen matters.
Even the most advanced guitar players will hear these sounds, it’s just that they have learned how to tone the noise down to acceptable levels. In fact, this undesirable shouldn’t be totally removed as it adds to the human flavor of the guitar recording.
Tips to stop strings from squeaking
There are numerous ways to lessen the squeaking sounds that you are accidentally creating on your guitar. We will focus first on the most important remedy, which is practicing the proper techniques, especially when it comes to moving chord to chord.
Although any kind of finger practice will aid you in sounding as clean as possible, what you will need to minimize the squeaks is to avoid putting too much pressure on the strings especially when you are about to change chords or move along the fretboard to do your solo.
This practice will require you to get used to lifting or loosening your grip on the strings, just before sliding down or transferring to the next portion of the chord progression.
Don’t rush and start slowly to make sure that you are doing things right, until you have gotten comfortable with this practice. Discipline, patience and awareness are the best ways to make you sound like a professional guitar player, even on a recording.
Baby powder is effective
Baby powder can definitely help reduce the squeaking, by removing the acidity to keep your fingers dry. Now before you go Lebron James on this remedy and fill your palms with talcum, keep in mind that you only need to put some on your fingertips.
While this is one of the most common solutions that a lot of studios and musicians use, it is also not a perfect answer to squeaking, as some musicians may sweat a lot more than others. Try combining baby powder along with proper guitar playing methods and see if it works much better.
Use special strings for recording
In order to solve the squeaking issue, string companies such as D’ Addario, came up with special strings such as the flat tops phosphor bronze set. These innovative guitar strings are the best option for recording for their quieter characteristics that don’t affect the tone and playability.
Just like most inventions, flat top strings are not without flaws. Aside from the fact that they are more expensive, they also wear out very fast since they are not coated compared to regular sets of guitar strings
However, flat tops have become a favorite among a lot of jazz players, due to the strings’ clean sound that is not too bright or loud, making it perfect for much mellower music.
Today’s top Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) possess very powerful tools that can help soften even the most aggressive sounding squeaks.
A good example of a DAW that can do the job really effectively is Cubase, most especially the latest versions. This amazing software even has an automation feature as well as the “spectra layers one” which can help you “erase” squeaks with the eraser tool, making them less apparent.
However, most studio professionals and experienced musicians prefer editing the squeaks manually, to avoid making the changes too uniform. This way, the guitar recording will still sound natural, with the edits appearing a lot more subtle.
While this is a more advanced technique and would require recording and mixing know-how, guitarists and studio novices shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting with DAWs not only to stop guitar strings from squeaking but also to improve recordings in general.