reducing guitar fingernoise


I have a nice guitar take, but there's a fair bit of squeak from swiftly sliding fingers. The more I eq the guitar to fit the mix, the more noise!

Any suggestions to help focus on the noise and reduce it?

Yes, I know I can take it again :)


I can't tell you how many times this has been the bane of my existence! I sheepishly admit that while I'm proud of some of my guitar playing, I'm overall quite sloppy...

Unfortunately, there really is no way to EQ or process out string squeaks. The squeaks themselves are part of the attack phase of the note you are playing, so anything you do will have extremely un-musical consequences. If you use a fade out/in or automation over the squeak to de-emphasize it, it will sound very unnatural and slur the notes. If you try EQ, as you found, it will affect far more than just the string squeak.

I have often resorted to teaching myself different fingerings and retuning in order to avoid string squeaks. But I'm afraid there's really no way to adequately fix this in the mix that I've found.

Hope that helps!
Thanks Orren. I EQd the squeak down and re-sat the guitar in the mix - it works fine with a bit of gain and placement thanks heavens :)

I have a nice guitar take, but there's a fair bit of squeak from swiftly sliding fingers. The more I eq the guitar to fit the mix, the more noise!

well you could try a de=essor if you can dial in the right freq of the squeek, and reduce it without affecting the overall sound too much, the Logic one isn't great on vocals I found, but might work on a gtr. You could also try a multi-band limiter and isolate a narrow band on the squeek, or a freq dependent compressor. All pretty much do the same thing just you'll find some work better than others. Eg find the squeek freq then adjust the threshold so the compressor starts to reduce the volume..
failing that edit them out by hand..
Another option can be, make a copy of the track below the existing (Logic duplicate track command) but no audio on it, then cut each squeek, and drag it to the track below (hold shift to stop it moving around when dragging) then turn the volume down of the duplicated track..

If you know the zoom short cut in Logic (hold ctrl/alt, drag a box to zoom in, click to zoom out) editing every squeek isn't as bad as it sounds..:)
de-esser: good idea - will try the logic one

multiband limiter: also good idea. I'll try logic's Multipressor, and it's possible that the Sonalksis DQ1 might do it, but I have no idea how to work it atm.

edit them out by hand: not a good idea in this case - the squeak here is an artefact of 'legato' playing and covers chordal content. I tried it, though :)

duplicate track idea: this would be the same as manual reducing the volume precisely around each squeak, which I've tried, but it messes with the chordal content.

For a minute there, I though you were going to suggest phase-reversing the duplicate squeak! ;-) ( which would also effect the chordal content)

really good ideas, Alan, and solid stuff to work on. I'll let you know how it goes


what I've done meanwhile is to EQ down the guitar where it is isolated ( which is where the squeak is really annoying) and when the track fills out and the guitar strums, I've EQ'd back the high mid, where it sounds best.

OK - following Alan's suggestions, I've tried:

Multipressor: no dice - it messed with the overall guitar sound too much

Sonalksis DQ1: much against my usual practise, I downloaded the manual :)
It made a difference, and I look forward to playing with this gadget some more. It looks really useful.

Logic De-esser: also useful but please correct me if I;m wrong - isn't this tool simply a single-band adjustable filter with a detector built-in? It certainly helped me find an approximate frequency range where the squeak was most prominent, thereby helping me set up DQ1 and Multipressor.

ATEOTD I found a combination of DQ1 and Se-esser most effective, but will have to A-B with the simple EQ I wrote in the first place.

time for T

Sounds like your having fun Peter, I presume this part is quite isolated then? don't forget to see how much cuts through in the final mix, often I find if I spend too long on something the problem seems bigger than it really is. Especially de-sessing, very easy to over do it.
One other thing is to automate some Eq to make a dip at each squeek, bit like a manual de-essor, I do this a lot for vocals that get boomy or thin. It might affect the gtr but maybe in context of the whole song it will be better than using volume rides.
Once you've done one EQ dip just drag and copy the nodes to the next squeek, I normal set a cycle and work down the track..
Hope this helps.
> I presume this part is quite isolated then?

it's one of the main voices in a 4-bar instrumental intro and continues, slightly reduced, for the next 8 bars of vocal..

> One other thing is to automate some Eq to make a dip at each squeek, bit like a
> manual de-essor

how could I do this? Or do you mean draw a dip?
In practice, I've dipped it all for the first 12 bars and raised it for the subsequent strumming

thanks for the feedback, alan

well it's quite easy in Logic to do, use the Logic EQ, find the right freq to dip and in the automation select the right band and draw in 4 nodes by holding down alt/ctrl/shift, so bottom right 3 keys at the squeek waveform, well a little before usually is better, then drag down the middle 2 nodes, now you have a tiny dip of Eq gain you can slide about by holding shift and drag selecting the nodes to move to the right point and copy to the next.
if in doubt which band put automation into touch and grab the EQ and move it , this will write a little bit of automation you can then edit, you only want the gain really.
I mean this is a tiny dip like the length of the squeek..I do it a lot for breaths in a vocal..
Hopefully you can understand this, hard to explain easier to show :)
this drives me nuts too. I've had some luck with having my guitarist grease the strings before recording the take. There's some guitar string grease you can buy for this.
Hmm I can think of a trick where you make a copy of the track and cut it up so only the squeks are left. Then phaseshift it and bring it up to where it takes down the squeaks without making it sound unnatural. This should be faster than automation but of course making no squeaks in the first place is far superior.....
Just a thought...

Here's another (drastic) alternative to try, if you think about what actually causes the squeaks: Your finger is sliding over the tiny ridges of the winding on the strings much like running your fingers over a comb. So, if you buy some strings that have some sort of covering (I think Elixir make some) that may help reduce the noise.
I was thinking about getting some Elixir's for just that reason (although people complain the G is always breaking).

On another pre-mixing note, what about microphone placement (re: acoustic guitar)? I like a small condenser where the neck meets the body, but it does seem to be pretty sensitive to fret noise/finger slides. Anyone have a preferred mic placement for guitar parts that tend to be squeaky?
you're welcome ☺

I use Elixirs on my Taylor (how I love that guitar!) and have never had a problem with them.

Here's another thought; How about opening up and EQ, click on analyser and look for the squeaks, then notch them out with a High Q EQ filter?