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Taming string squeak?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Guitars, Basses, Amps & FX  
Author Taming string squeak?
commodorejohn
I've been dabbling with picking up bass again (tried it very briefly in high school, but never got anywhere,) and I'm definitely having fun with it. But I'm having a bit of a dilemma as far as string selection goes. I like the brighter tone of roundwound strings, but I'm having a devil of a time dealing with the squeaking every time I slide a note or even just moving up and down the fretboard if I don't actually lift my finger all the way off. Flatwounds eliminate this problem completely, but they just don't have that high-end that I like, in my experience. I miss having that bit of bite/growl on the lower notes and the way the high notes just sing...

Am I missing something here? Is there a way to manage this when playing with roundwound strings, other than cranking down the tone knob (which just kills the high-end in a different way?) Is it a matter of technique?
notmiserlouagain
commodorejohn wrote:
Is it a matter of technique?


Hate to say it, but...yes.
commodorejohn
In which case...what's the technique?
abandonist
A little of it could be eq or gain, but other than that, it's a matter of drifting your fingers just enough over the strings to eliminate the sound.
commodorejohn
Hmm.
GuyaGuy
Yeah, lift your fingers or find a different fingering for the part.

Some guys use talc or rub their fingers on their nose or ear to lube up their fingers. There are some string lube products too.

Or you might want to try halfwounds--sort of flat/round hybrids.
chvad
Nose is the way to go! lol
commodorejohn
Hmm, interesting.
MindMachine
GuyaGuy wrote:
Or you might want to try halfwounds--sort of flat/round hybrids.


I find that my half-wounds can get bright when I want them to and smooth if I control my playing. I am a rank amateur but they really do get the full range. I use them on an Aria Pro II Cardinal 380 single pick-up.
durwin
Try and use the pad of your finger when sliding up the strings and then fret with the tip (calloused preferably w00t )

Otherwise use all 4 fingers over four frets.
commodorejohn
MindMachine wrote:
GuyaGuy wrote:
Or you might want to try halfwounds--sort of flat/round hybrids.

I find that my half-wounds can get bright when I want them to and smooth if I control my playing. I am a rank amateur but they really do get the full range. I use them on an Aria Pro II Cardinal 380 single pick-up.

Are "halfwounds" the same as "ground-wounds" (i.e. roundwounds ground down to a smoother finish after the winding?) What particularly do you use?
GuyaGuy
commodorejohn wrote:
MindMachine wrote:
GuyaGuy wrote:
Or you might want to try halfwounds--sort of flat/round hybrids.

I find that my half-wounds can get bright when I want them to and smooth if I control my playing. I am a rank amateur but they really do get the full range. I use them on an Aria Pro II Cardinal 380 single pick-up.

Are "halfwounds" the same as "ground-wounds" (i.e. roundwounds ground down to a smoother finish after the winding?) What particularly do you use?

Yeah also aka halfrounds, which is probably more correct than halfwound.

I'm more of a guitarist but I use GHS on guitar and on bass I use whatever halfrounds that the previous owner had put on! Mr. Green
dkcg
If you action is high, try lowering the action. Switching strings will help a little, but playing technique and quality of the instrument will be key.

I hate to say that you get what you pay for with stringed instruments, but in my experience, the cheapie guitars usually don't play as "easily" as nicer made guitars. I'm not saying you need to spend $1000's, but a $200 squire most likely will not play as nice as a $1200 Fender. Setup is important too, but so is the base instrument.

Oh, and try some string lubricant like "Finger Ease". That will make your fingers slide more easily than a sticky oxidized string.
rjungemann
dkcg wrote:
Oh, and try some string lubricant like "Finger Ease". That will make your fingers slide more easily than a sticky oxidized string.


Yes! The truth of the matter is that people's fingers react to strings differently. I have callouses from bass playing but I still have issues with my fingers wanting to stick to the strings.

Give Finger Ease or Fast Fret a try. Or just mineral oil. Try Elixir strings which are spendy but have a coating that's a little more slick. And they seem to last longer than other guitar strings I've used.

Technique is part of it, but I don't think technique alone will solve the issue for everyone, in my experience.

Worst case scenario you can tie a hair scrunchie or handkerchief or something just below the nut, which will catch some fret noise.
laxlaxlax
What the people before me have said, and also:

* Use the soft part of your hand instead of callused.
* Learn to lift hand and not slide between frets.

There are also polished strings. Not the same as flatwound, if you want to invest the money that is.
mt3
If you want to "fix it in the mix", use Izotope RX 6 (squeaks are removed at 11:30):

phase ghost
It really is technique. Lift, right hand mute, play the next note. It's an extra bitch on guitar when you want to keep the same chord shape, but move up and down the neck.
The Grump
phase ghost wrote:
It really is technique. Lift, right hand mute, play the next note. It's an extra bitch on guitar when you want to keep the same chord shape, but move up and down the neck.


Yup, pretty much. It's even tougher with 5+ string basses. A major factor is disciplining one's self to lift your fretting fingers straight up and off of the strings, especially when moving up and down the neck. Plucking hand (thumb, including backside of it for pizzo) mutes strings below the one being played, soft part of the fretting fingers mutes strings above.

Sometimes, in the studio, I will also cheat and lightly tie a handkerchief near the nut, then play all closed positions.
commodorejohn
Huh. Well, I think I'm just gonna say screw it and put some flatwounds on. Might give groundwounds a try at some point, though, just to see...
The Grump
The choice is yours, but personally, I'd suggest skipping the crutches and training wheels, and either learn your instrument and solidify your technique, or invite someone else in who already has. Why waste your time to only go half way? It's far from impossible, but it does take practice, attention to detail, and most of all honesty with yourself to accept when you're not doing it right, then going back and just trying to do it less wrong each time until you are doing it right.

Best way to tame string noise? Get a fresh set of round wound strings, do NOT roll off your highs, and go over each phrase of 3-6 notes at a time SUPER SLOWLY, working out each movement, figuring out which are your lazy fingers and movements, until you get each phrase cleanly, then string the phrases together, and bring it all up to speed. It also helps if you have your action adjusted as low as possible without buzzing. Why? Because the higher your action, the more easily your fingers will be fatigued, and the more likely you are to use sloppy (noisy) technique involuntarily just to hit the next note.

The right technique is the one that gets you the note you want with the tone you want, leaves you set up to play the next note correctly as well, and won't injure you in either the short or long term. Good luck!

Again, only a suggestion. If you're looking for an answer, that's it. If you're just looking for validation... seriously, i just don't get it
commodorejohn
The problem is that I want to be able to move to another note without lifting my finger off, for slides. So all the advice about making sure to lift off cleanly and work on technique for that, while it would solve the squeaking problem, would (unless I'm missing something) prevent me from doing what I was trying to do in the first place.
GuyaGuy
commodorejohn wrote:
The problem is that I want to be able to move to another note without lifting my finger off, for slides. So all the advice about making sure to lift off cleanly and work on technique for that, while it would solve the squeaking problem, would (unless I'm missing something) prevent me from doing what I was trying to do in the first place.

For slides you just want to let off on the pressure a bit while sliding. Angling the finger back toward the nut a bit can also help.
The Grump
commodorejohn wrote:
The problem is that I want to be able to move to another note without lifting my finger off, for slides. So all the advice about making sure to lift off cleanly and work on technique for that, while it would solve the squeaking problem, would (unless I'm missing something) prevent me from doing what I was trying to do in the first place.


Dude, are you seriously arguing against learning clean fretting technique because you think it will hinder your ability to occasionally slide or slur a note? You asked how to solve a problem, and you didn't like the answer because it means effort on your part, so you'd rather validate your efforts at avoidance. It's kind of childish and more than a little insulting to every person that made the effort to offer you honest counsel. But whatever, you can learn to play with skill and finesse or keep being a slob, and the only person you will fool is yourself. You cried about being thirsty, so we led you water and you turned your nose up at it. Fine, stay thirsty.
commodorejohn
Hahah, I love how somehow it's now a personal snub on my part. So sorry I hurt your delicate feelings by not immediately agreeing with everything you say hihi

No, I have nothing against learning good technique, and it's definitely something I'm going to keep working at. But for the moment, I need a practical solution to the squeaking issue more than I need advice on avoiding it in the long term, so that's what I'm going with. Once I'm better at this, I'll probably look at going back to roundwounds as I prefer the tone, but that can wait until said improvement in technique has been achieved.
MindMachine
^ Don't take it so personal. About eight people came back with the same answer for you. To be honest, I think the flatwounds will just allow to 'cheat' for longer. They won't solve your problem. In fact they'll limit your tone.

I'm glad you asked the question because a lot of players better than I could ever be gave some good information here. Once I score my Rickenbacker with full bright Rotosounds, I'll check back on this. I want to be Chris Squire.
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