When listing to the song "The Only Exception" by Paramore (see YouTube), there's a screeching sound when changing chords, which I find quite unpleasant.

Question: Is there a name for the screeching sound made when changing chords on a guitar?

  • 4
    While some guitarists like the added flavour that this noise provides, you can find specially-coated strings that aim to help mitigate this effect.
    – SpellingD
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 16:19
  • 1
    For some songs I use a setup which actually accentuates this noise:) Each to their own.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 19:02
  • 1
    A lot of hard rock depends on that sound during slower sections, see Seether.
    – segiddins
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 21:51
  • It's definitely one of those things that's hard to "un-hear" if it bothers you. Try DR coated strings (or similar) if it's your own playing that's bothering you. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 22:03
  • Flatwound strings also mitigate string noise, but the tone is somewhat duller than roundwound strings. Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 4:25

3 Answers 3


The name for the noise you're hearing is "string noise". It is caused by the fingertips scraping across the round-wound strings of the instrument when the hand changes from one position to another.


"Fret noise" is the name used by Yamaha and others for that sound in synthesizers.


I think it's more often than not called "fret noise" which is sort of a misnomer since it does not actually have a lot to do with the frets (it would be rather strenuous if you did not even clear the frets while changing chords). Bona fide fret noise would be notes getting hammered on or single-string (or power chord) slides with pressure on so that you have sort of a sequential hammering-on or pulling-off of frets.

The more accurate term "string noise" (even though it can include twanging sounds) will likely be perfectly understandable to any player.

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