This is surely a basic question, but I have no idea about guitars.

Take the following song as an example:

At the 7 second mark, but more prominently between 8 and 9 seconds (and many other times) you can hear some kind of "transitioning" screechy sounds.

Does this have a name? Is it intentional and part of the music or an undesirable byproduct? It seems to give some "texture" to the sound, but I have no idea. I do hear it often in many songs though.


It's caused by sliding the fingers along the wound (usually bottom three or four) strings. It often can't be helped, and is just part of guitar playing. There are strings available that are smoother, so don't produce anywhere near that sort of string noise, and some modern players use a plectrum to make those sounds on purpose.

It's never actually prescribed for most performances on guitar, and more discerning (?) players will try to avoid making those sounds.

String noise or string scratch is about as technical a term as it gets.

  • 1
    "Fret noise" is the term I've heard and read most often. Apr 2 '19 at 14:28
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox - could be. Another misnomer, as it really has nothing to do with frets themselves. I suppose it follows tremolo and vibrato - it wasn't coined by a Mr. Fender, was it..?
    – Tim
    Apr 2 '19 at 15:24
  • I think "fret noise" is a shortened version of a phrase like, "the noise made when changing frets or when fretting notes". Also, it seems to be more recording engineers who use the term "fret noise" than musicians, so perhaps that's not the most helpful term. Apr 2 '19 at 15:52
  • Probably helped along by the fact that one of the 128 General MIDI instrument numbers (#121) is "Guitar Fret Noise".
    – hobbs
    Apr 2 '19 at 22:07

I have always called it string squeak. It is particularly noticeable on acoustic guitars. It seems that others use the term.

How to get rid of guitar string squeak


I don't think it has a name.

It's an unintentional byproduct but for many it's strangely comforting element of music as it adds a bit of grit and "natural" feel to the performance.

In classical guitar world modern players rather strive to minimize those sounds and a fluid and quiet transitions are a mark of modern virtuosos. As an example check out Marcin Dylla performances.

  • 2
    There are some rock songs that use this sound purposefully. Apr 2 '19 at 18:43
  • Yes but then it's something different and it even has a name (pick slide or pick scrape)
    – Jarek.D
    Apr 3 '19 at 10:36

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