When I play some chords which are on the same strings but on different frets, I produce much string noise, when changing between them. For example take Eric Clapton's famous "Cocaine" riff, which can be played by the power chord sequence: E5, D5, E5.

I think the noise results mostly from too much pressure on the strings. I am wondering how I can reduce this noise but keeping the pressure on the strings in order to get a clean sound.

  • 2
    Acoustic or electric? You have 2 choices on electric, but really only one on acoustic.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 3, 2017 at 10:02
  • 1
    @Tetsujin I am interested in both acoustic and electric variants.
    – arminb
    Oct 3, 2017 at 10:03
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    Note that sound is also called "fret noise" for some reason. Oct 3, 2017 at 10:30
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    disagree with the duplicate, linked question is about general left hand noise from high gain amplified playing, this question also refers to acoustic guitars and is more specific in the type of noise, meaning a good answer to the other question wouldn't be a good answer here and vice versa
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 3, 2017 at 13:45

2 Answers 2


It's difficult to comment on your individual technique without seeing it, so the most important thing is that you practice, and play very close attention to your sound while doing so. Slow down your motions, and pay attention to what you are doing when you make the noise, and experiment, noticing how small alterations to your technique affect your sound. Does the string noise reduce when you slow down your technique? Or when you play certain progressions as opposed to others? If so, what is changing in your technique to cause that string noise.

Having said that, I can make a few guesses: a likely cause is that you are not relaxing your hand quickly enough between chord changes. There should be an almost instantaneous switch between fretting and not fretting a chord, when you stop playing a chord your hand should relax instantly and your finger only be gently touching the strings. This should still be a fluid motion not a jerky one, but it should happen quickly. If this transition is less well defined, you may be dragging your hands across the strings with far more force than necessary: compare for example how much noise you make on the cocaine riff if you take the thumb off the back of the neck in between the change. Obviously you would never play like this, but if it's significantly quieter, then that's an indication you are squeezing far too hard in between chord changes.

You may want to try practicing some styles with closed chords that require extensive muting, as this will help train your left hand to make cleaner, clearer chord transitions , something like this for example is usually a good exercise for muting, but also might help you to reduce string noise by training your left hand.

If you still find yourself making more string noise than you like, you may also want to look at the equipment you're using: on both electric and acoustic guitars, new strings make far more string noise than worn in ones. A brand new set of bronze strings on an acoustic will practically sizzle if you breathe on the guitar! Some people like this, others not: it's personal preference.

So older, worn in strings will buzz less, and make less string noise. More than that though, on electric gutiars, flat wound strings make pretty much no noise, because they're completely smooth. If this is something that appeals to you, then you could investigate it. They also have a different tone, which some people prefer. For a "standard" rock tone rounds are the norm, but there is no harm in investigating other sounds: on the contrary it's a very positive thing for a developing musician to investigate things like this.

On an acoustic guitar, coated strings such as elixir polyweb produce much less noise. Nanowebs and more modern coated strings show this effect much less, and one of the reasons that these were developed is that guitarists generally miss the noise!


For electric, you have two main choices...

  1. Reduce the high frequencies on your amp, or reduce the amount of any compression you are using, or increase its release time .

  2. Learn to lift your fingers higher as you make the transition.

For acoustic, your only real choice is the latter, learn to lift your fingers - though you could investigate less-bright strings or even one of those guitar string 'wipe' sticks. I haven't seen one in years, but there used to be a product called Fast Fret that would help reduce string noise.

A bit of Googling tells me it still exists... http://www.ghsstrings.com/products/11464-fast-fret?category_id=1964826-lubricants-cleaners
Bear in mind, if you don't like it, you'd probably have to change the strings.

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