How to: reduce acoustic string noise

Every month, Guitar Techniques attempts to answer guitarists' playing posers and technical teasers with expert and practical advice. Here we tackle the age-old problem of unwanted acoustic guitar string noise…

The question:

Dear GT

Is there any way to get rid of the dreaded string screech when playing acoustic? I recorded myself playing a piece recently and was shocked (and somewhat embarrassed) to find it riddled with string noise when changing chords/location on the fretboard. When I listen to the top players in the field, their recordings are virtually silent in this respect and so I'm thinking my technique must be at fault somehow.


The answer:

The first suggestion we'd make would be that you switch to using a coated string like Elixir as these cut down finger screech quite considerably.

The next thing to do is to take a serious look at your fretting hand technique; are you sliding along the strings more than necessary in between chords? Does it make a difference if you lift your fingers slightly or release the pressure on the strings with your fingers during position changes?

Some players will recommend a string lubricant like Fast Fret, but we would advise you to take a good look at what's happening on the fretboard before trying anything else.

Every acoustic player will make a certain amount of noise, but you can bet that all of them have worked hard to alleviate it as much as possible in the practice room at some point in the past.