Squeaky acoustic guitar strings

You know when you’re playing your acoustic guitar and betwen notes you get that squeak as you move your fingers along the strings? Is that an actual technique or is it just a hard-to-avoid by-product of playing? And if it’s a technique, what’s it called?

Well, if it were bagpipes, it would be called “crossing noises”

But it’s not bagpipes, so I don’t know, sorry :slight_smile:

It’s not that hard to avoid: string ease is pretty popular. IIRC Strings labelled slinky are less prone to what I’d just call string noise.

Sometimes it’s a deliberate thing - the introductory line to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here features it.

IANAG, but it’s an essential element of one of my favourite songs - the acoustic Taste of Cindy by J&MC, and it’s pretty loud, so I think sometimes it’s deliberate.

Liz Phair does it on “Perfect World,” I assume deliberately.

When I am coaching folks on how to play guitar, one of the first things I say is that you should spend 50% of your effort getting the sounds you want, and 50% of your effort preventing the sounds you don’t want.

String squeak is part of that. Obnoxious string squeak I avoid like the plague, but subtle, natural string squeak, to me, enhances the organic sound of the song. To me it is like wood grain on well-made furniture, or variations in yarn color (called “abrash”) in real Persian rugs - just a natural variation in the sound of the song that makes it feel warm and natural. Hearing it when a truly great player plays - a Mark Knopfler or Stevie Ray, for instance - it just part of the process. It is like hearing Errol Garner hum to himself while soloing on jazz piano - just cool…

The opening bass on the theme to The Barney Miller Show also had it. Even as a kid it irritated the shit out of me.

In most cases it’s an unwanted byproduct. Besides String-Ease and the like, there are flatwound strings and strings in which the grooves are filled with an epoxy. Elixir strings are a version of the latter and have excellent tone and last a lot longer than regular strings.

I only checked into this thread for random curiosity, but I don’t leave empty handed: “String squeak” will delight the 8 and 9 year olds I babysit; they’re in a tonguetwister phase. (Sounds annoying, I know, but trust me: it’s a million times better than the “knock knock” phase we barely survived last year.)

John Lennon’s #9 Dream has a great “squeaky string” bit right after the “ah bawakawa” chorus.

Ugh. I can’t stand Elixirs. They’re just way too slippery for me; there’s just not enough feel there. Plus they last long past the time they should have been changed, which means that lazy me just leaves them on.

String squeaking is a prominent (and no doubt deliberate) part of Radiohead’s Morning Bell/Amnesiac, which happens to be one of my least favourite Radiohead songs.

I understand that in playing classical guitar, string squeak is considered totally undesirable. Part of the technique is lifting fingers completely off the strings before sliding up or down the fretboard.

The most prominent example of string squeak I thought of is at the very end of Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer.”

I heard a record of Japanese koto music that was full of string squeaks. Just like on guitars. I guessed either the koto player deliberately included the sounds as part of their sonic design, or else the squeak was so hard to avoid they’d just decided to live with it.