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Recently I noticed that open strings make their unwanted sound when my finger leaves them while playing a scale or a lick.

This is mainly affects the D and G string. Say I am playing a C major scale in the 7th fret. On string G I will play a D, E, F with my 1, 3, 4 fingers. The next note will be the G in string B. The issue is when my finger leaves the last note on string G (note F) the G string became open and sounds its open G.

I am moving my finger pretty 90, so it is not I am accidentally picking a bit the open G. Also, my finger is pretty clean, does not sweating etc.

This scale is only an example I am experiencing this literally every lick/solo I am trying to play and have moving from string D to G or G to B.

Question: Is it a common phenomena, or is it just me? What would be the solution?

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  • Sounds like you are doing unwanted pull of's. Maybe some problem with your left hand technique.
    – Neil Meyer
    Aug 28, 2015 at 8:53

4 Answers 4

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There are three parts to playing a note. One - press down string onto fret. Two - release pressure and three - take finger off string. Do this really slowly, and you will hear when the problem occurs. It will usually be the last part. Your fingertip will be making the open string vibrate, in one of two ways. Either because it is stuck slightly to the string, or because you're plucking the string on release. This could be because a callus or a bit of skin catches, or because you are actually, as Neil suggests, doing what's called a 'pull-off'. Lift the finger straight up, instead.

You could even delay taking the finger off until the next note's played, or mute that string with a finger that's used next, or not even used. That's a common method used to stop unwanted string noise. Do everything slowly - one note per 2 seconds to start with, so you can identify exactly where the problem occurs.

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  • Tim, thx for the answer. Can we say it is a common, known thing, and most player must pay attention to prevent it? ...for example using a technique you described (mute that string with a finger tha's used next) Aug 28, 2015 at 12:23
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I'm currently trying to solve this problem and it seems no matter how carefully I do it sometimes my finger just sticks to the string. I've found two ways to mitigate this:

  1. Don't press on the string harder than necessary. The harder you press the string down, the more it will stick to your finger.

  2. I've found that sliding your finger slightly up or down the string on release breaks the stick without pulling on the string, and mutes it somewhat. It seems to kill remaining harmonics faster than just letting go.

Good luck!

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this problem is caused by something simillar to pull off. When you leave a string to play next note, fast leaving of previous string causes jump up the open strig that makes an unwanted sound.i think that the best way is gentle leaving of the string,also its better that you dont leave the present string untill the next note is played. But If previous and next note are on same fret, the solution is barre technique , hold down each two string by same finger fixing on the fret. Other solution is use of other fingers of lt hand and palm of rt hand to mute previous string. I think all people beginig guitar play face this problem and you can solve that by excercise. Thank you.

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First of all, this will only happen when ascending a scale, i.e. when moving to a higher (thinner) string. The reasons for the open string(s) to ring out have been discussed in Tim's answer.

In my opinion the best solution to the problem is to mute the string with your left hand index finger. So when the first note on the new string is played with fingers 2, 3, or 4, you leave your index finger on the lower string, slightly touching it (not actually fretting a note). If the first note on the new string is played with the index finger, you use the tip of the index finger to mute the lower string by slightly touching it from below.

If you play with distortion you will also need to use your right-hand palm to mute all strings that are lower than the one you are playing at the moment.

When using an electric guitar, I can't stress enough how important it is to practice amplified (with headphones, if necessary). Otherwise you will not notice it when other strings make unwanted noises. Also record yourself and listen back for unwanted sounds, because some people get so focused on their technique while playing that they will not notice all the details of the sounds they produce.

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    Matt, thx for the answer. Yes I am always practicing with my amp. I figured out there must be a real feedback to hear exactly what tone I produce to allow progress that tone to the direction I want to achieve (in every aspect) Aug 28, 2015 at 12:27
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    Agree with play amplified. I tell pupils who have string noise problems that they HAVE to practise loudly, with overdrive, in order to stop the noise. Funnily, it's one thing they don't moan about having to practise! Parents have different views...
    – Tim
    Aug 28, 2015 at 17:31

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