Advice wanted on string noise

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
fretboardmusic

Advice wanted on string noise

Post by fretboardmusic » Mon Dec 17, 2007 3:39 pm

Since returning to CG after many years away I have been plagued by a couple of technical problems.Both are most troublesome with free strokes.The first is the common rasping or scraping noise when playing on the wound strings.The second is most noticeable on plain strings using my m finger-a clatter or "tick" of nail contact.I have tried using the shortest possible nails and working on the angle of my attack.The m finger problem seems exacerbated by that finger being longer so more flexion is required than with i or a.Thanks for any suggestions.

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David
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Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by David » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:09 am

Fretboardmusic

I've moved this topic to Strings and Nails because I think it's the most appropriate.

One of Kanengiser's DVDs covers this issue and he recommends changing the angle of attack when you move up to the wound strings to prevent the nails slding across the windings and creating a rasping noise.

The clicking noise can be a nail shape problem, I had a similar problem & fixed it after much trial and error, except with me it was the 'a' finger. What helped the most was to place some sand paper over the strings and play several notes with each finger with my hand in the normal playing position. This will basically files away a section of the nail that's making contact with the string. This then gives you an idea of what nail shape is appropriate for each finger.
"No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong." - Albert Einstein

Paul Saywood

Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Paul Saywood » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:14 am

Hello fretboardmusic, to add to Kampret's good advise it's worth-while polishing the nails so the finish is as smooth as possible, any rough edges on the nails will catch on the string.

Paul

fretboardmusic

Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by fretboardmusic » Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:15 am

Thanks for your suggestions.I will definitely try the sandpaper technique.The others I've already been using-they probably just need further work.

Unburst

Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Unburst » Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:47 am

The Pumping Nylon DVD has a useful section on nail shaping, polishing them is also a must, I use Micro Mesh.

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Vesuvio
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Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Vesuvio » Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:45 am

Hello Fretboardmusic,

Here are a couple of links that may help you:

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=18733
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=17362

Best wishes, V
"There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience." Paul Hindemith

Rick-in-Annapolis
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Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Rick-in-Annapolis » Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:14 am

Normal sandpaper just doesn't cut it. I used to use 600 grit sandpaper to finish my nails... Now I start
with 600 grit and finish up with micro mesh. The micro mesh starts at 2400 and ends at about 12000.
When done your nails will feel like glass, and your tone should improve. I highly recommend micro mesh.

David_Raleigh_Arnold

Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by David_Raleigh_Arnold » Sun Dec 23, 2007 11:54 pm

fretboardmusic wrote:Since returning to CG after many years away I have been plagued by a couple of technical problems.Both are most troublesome with free strokes.The first is the common rasping or scraping noise when playing on the wound strings.The second is most noticeable on plain strings using my m finger-a clatter or "tick" of nail contact.I have tried using the shortest possible nails and working on the angle of my attack.The m finger problem seems exacerbated by that finger being longer so more flexion is required than with i or a.Thanks for any suggestions.
Work on your stroke slowly. Scales are especially good for that because you can isolate the problems most easily.

"Feathering" your nails will result in extra noise on the wound strings. The nail should be filed in such a way that the end meets the string bluntly. That means that unless you have very long nails the inside of the nail extends slightly less than the outside. This way, the nail rides higher on the windings and cannot get between them as much to make the rasping noise.

A little bit of noise is desirable. Singers usually start notes on consonants rather than vowels, so a bit of noise at the beginning of a note makes it sound more human. Point is, be sensitive without being a fanatic.

It is not profitable to be a perfectionist in coming straight across the string with the finger, because that will cause a problem with the thumb. Compromise.

My spell checker doesn't like "flexion." How do I kick the stupid thing? There is nothing wrong with flexion. :wink:

Nick Cutroneo
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Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:03 am

From what you're describing (ticking sound on the un-wound strings), it sounds like a placement problem. What you want to do, is while you practice slowly consciously try and place the finger in the same place all the time. It's quite hard, and something that many don't take the time to develop. Keep it conscious with whatever you play be it a scale or a full piece. Now, when you're playing a piece at tempo, don't try and think about it, but rather see how much of this idea has been assimilated in your practice. This is certainly something that most don't realize. Don't force the fingers to the string, but allow what you practiced slowly take over while you play at tempo. If practiced correctly there will be no problem. Pay attention to nail placement and the articulation of the passage.
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

David_Raleigh_Arnold

Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by David_Raleigh_Arnold » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:58 pm

Guitarshreda wrote:From what you're describing (ticking sound on the un-wound strings), it sounds like a placement problem. What you want to do, is while you practice slowly consciously try and place the finger in the same place all the time. It's quite hard, and something that many don't take the time to develop. Keep it conscious with whatever you play be it a scale or a full piece. Now, when you're playing a piece at tempo, don't try and think about it, but rather see how much of this idea has been assimilated in your practice. This is certainly something that most don't realize. Don't force the fingers to the string, but allow what you practiced slowly take over while you play at tempo. If practiced correctly there will be no problem. Pay attention to nail placement and the articulation of the passage.
There is a decent article by Douglas Niedt on the topic in his "Tip of the Month".

One thing he fails to address is priorities, IMO. When playing slowly on bass strings alone with a decrescendo, squeaks are especially troublesome. When playing faster with lots of notes including many on smooth strings squeaks are definitely less noticeable. I think he oversimplifies a bit by treating changing the fingering and doing better lifting/placement as alternatives.

He also mentions polished strings. I found that they helped a bit but that they were a bit dull 45 years ago, but it seems there are better polished strings now.

Chadwell

Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Chadwell » Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:07 pm

Hi,

I find that most noise comes from playing a string thats already vibrating.

I just trimmed my nails much shorted, this has helped with some noise....nut now i'm missing strings every now and again..got to get used to a shorter nail or grow them back...anyhow...even with a much shorter nail i still get a little noise when striking a vibrating string...is this at all avoidable?

Will there always be a little noise when stroking a vibrating string?

Nails are some bloody frustrating. Feel like chopping them off and buy lute. :lol:

fretboardmusic

Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by fretboardmusic » Sat Mar 15, 2008 4:56 pm

Chadwell wrote:Hi,

I find that most noise comes from playing a string thats already vibrating.

I just trimmed my nails much shorted, this has helped with some noise....nut now i'm missing strings every now and again..got to get used to a shorter nail or grow them back...anyhow...even with a much shorter nail i still get a little noise when striking a vibrating string...is this at all avoidable?

Will there always be a little noise when stroking a vibrating string?

Nails are some bloody frustrating. Feel like chopping them off and buy lute. :lol:
I haven't had as much playing time as I would like lately,but I did shorten my nails to the shortest possible length and still have them functional.As I knew from past experience this improves the tone to my ears-warmer and fuller.But it also eliminates a lot of the tick,if not all.Nails do seem like a necessary evil at times-without them I don't play classical guitar at all.

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Mach13
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Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Mach13 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:34 pm

Hi folks... :bye:
I've found this section really interesting so thanks to those that chipped in here. I'm very much a novice and primarily use my classical guitar for my songwriting (folk)..... for now

When recording I've often struggled with rasping noises coming from my picking hand. not so much when fretting... I found polishing my nails using my wife's finger nail board (erm now secretly mine :mrgreen: ) it has 8 sections... one with a really fine buffing side which looks non abrasive but does seem to super polish... BUT the biggest issue has been with my thumb... I don't use my thumb nail.. but the side of my thumb when picking... I have had some success gently polishing the skin with the emery board effectively minimizing the amount of finger print.. :wink: Then I add some baby oil to it.. I've had better results with this approach.

I've also found the pumping nylon DVD on techniques quite useful.
A lefty and new to classical guitar
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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by Rick Beauregard » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:36 pm

You'll find the solution that works for you. The good news is that your reached a level where you've noticed and are listening. The first step: awareness.
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
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davekear
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Re: Advice wanted on string noise

Post by davekear » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:57 am

Planting is a very good technique for developing good tone. Rest "plant" your finger on the string before you stroke. Do this with free strokes and rest strokes. Go slow at first with the goal of producing the best tone you can. This technique will give you the feel you need and the exact positioning of the finger necessary to achieve really good tone. Scott Tennant explains this well, as well as Christopher Parkening.

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