How to reduce Left-Hand squeak or string noise on the Classical Guitar

Classical Guitar Left Hand Technique to reduce bass string squeaks

Cause of the Left Hand squeaks or string noise.

LH string noise refers to the squeaky sound produced by the left hand as it leaves the bass strings. The squeak string noise is caused by friction. It happens mostly when shifting positions across the fingerboard. To effectively reduce or eliminate the bass string squeaks, we have to find ways to reduce that friction. There are 2 approach to this issue and both to be used concurrently to obtain the best results.

The Maintenance Approach

  1. Regularity file the calluses of left hand finger tips.
  2. Wash your hands before playing the guitar.
  3. Moisturise your hands occasionally if you are always in cold and/or dry area.
  4. Use of recording strings like Polished basses can help to reduce the squeak but can also affect the overall brilliance of your guitar. The bass strings are the acoustic enhancer for the high frequencies produced by the treble strings. To simply put, the performance (in terms of sustain, brilliance, sonority and etc.) of the treble strings are influenced by the bass strings.

The Technique Approach

  1. Helicopter Fingering is one common way to effectively reducing left hand squeaks. Move your fingers across the fingerboard when changing positions like how helicopter take off and land. Lift up the finger in a manner perpendicular to the string like a helicopter take off. Most bass string squeaks are caused by a motion similar to that of an aeroplane take off (diagonal motion).
  2. Fingertips Rotation is another effective technique to reduce the noise. The helicopter finger is useful when you are changing basses. Imagine you need to do a glissando with the bass string, you will not be able to apply the helicopter fingering in this case as you need to “hold” and slide/glide to another note. Fortunately the spot that creates the squeak is often a small area of your fingertips. To perform a Fingertips Rotation, simply rotate your fingertips ( still depressing the string against the fret) slightly to move the contact point to a softer part of your finger before you do a glissando/slide/glide. Rotate fingertips towards the sound hole for sliding to a higher note and rotate towards the nut for sliding to a lower note. Less friction means less bass string squeak or noise.

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Author: Joshua Ho

Hi friends, I'm a guitarist who is more adapted to Classical Guitar Styles. My favourite composer is J.S Bach.

4 thoughts on “How to reduce Left-Hand squeak or string noise on the Classical Guitar”

  1. Thanks for posting this concise little lesson. I love the term “Helicopter Fingering”! Great way to describe the movement required to eliminate left hand squeaks.

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