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How to stop noise when playing

Rating: 0 user(s) have rated this lesson Posted by: leokisomma, on Jan 29,2011, in category Guitar Techniques Views: this lesson has been read 2584 times
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What's the difference between music and noise? This is the most important question to be asked on the subject of spotting and stopping noise. Noise is a sound that's produced unintentionally by any of your equipment, but doesn't fit in with what you're playing. This can include high pitched squealing, notes being sounded without you intentionally playing them, buzzing sounds or general noise being produced.

Firstly, I will start with a way of cheating, then I'll show you ways to practice and set up your equipment. Most of you will have heard of a noise-gate. What this does it isolate parts of the signal being picked up by you guitar that aren't cleanly produced and makes them quieter. For example, quiet open-string notes are practically silenced. This also stops some of the noise that can be produced when certain amps are placed near other operating electrical devices. This is a good way of getting rid of noise that's coming from your equipment but there is a drawback. A noise-gate will make all notes slightly less pronounced as it can take some of the gain out of the signal as it views some of it as noise; this becomes apparent when you to playing pinched harmonics or in a legato style, as both of the techniques can require the maximum signal and can be interfered with by the noise-gate.

The next way to go about reducing noise is to practice playing as cleanly as possible; this doesn't mean playing without gain, but it means practice getting all the notes you play to be as pronounced as possible. If you play in an alternate picking style then you will have to focus on getting each note played effectively and being able to mute the notes after you've played them when you want them to stop. The same with most techniques, but legato might be slightly trickier for some, as it involves a lot of work from the fretting hand rather than the plucking hand.

The things to focus on in this case are muting the strings above(as you're looking down on the guitar) the strings your playing with the length/meat of your fingers if you can, and muting the strings across the guitar you don't want sounding with the free fingers on your plucking hand or the palm of that hand. This may seem obvious but many people don't acknowledge it, or simply think the strings automatically go quiet instantly. Most of the noise produced when you're playing comes when you change which strings you're playing on(not when you change the strings on your guitar). If you are plucking away at the 5th string then do a run up to the 4th or 3rd strings, you need to silence the strings you're not sounding unless you're making them part of a chord or a drone.

Here are a few exercises to help you with this technique. All exercises are in the key of E.

Tab key:-

--4-- = pluck the string shown while fretting the string on the fret numbered

--h6- = hammer-on your finger onto the string on the fret numbered, doesn't require the string to be plucked

 --p2- = pull-off your finger from the string shown to sound a note while fretting the string on the fret numbered

-8b9- = luck the string shown while fretting the string on the fret numbered, then bend the string until the note sounded becomes the same as the note sounded on the fret shown to the right of the b. E.g., 8b9 means pluck the string while fretting the string on the 8th fret, then bend the string one semitone/one fret higher in pitch.

-8b9r8- = same a regular bend but allow string to return to regular position on fret numbered; think of b as meaning bend, and r as meaning relax

--t12- = tap on the fret numbered firmly with one of the fingers in your plucking hand

-t9r5- = tap on the fret numbered firmly with one of the fingers in your plucking hand then release your finger from the string either by simply pulling it off or twanging it, but fret the string on the fret numbered to sound that note after the finger tapping the string has been removed

-mb7- = bend the string slightly after plucking the string number shown, but don't bend it so that raises the note in pitch by a fret.

/ = Slide finger(s)up the fretboard to the fret shown

\ = Slide finger(s)down the fretboard to the fret shown

--9v- = use vibrato by wavering the string up and down by bending it to get a sort of wavy sound

Exercise 1: Up and down the natural minor scale


Exercise 2: Up and down the natural Major scale

Exercise 3: Shimmy up and down the natural minor scale

Exercise 4: Shimmy up and down the natural major scale

You don't have to play all the slides and hammer-ons and slides and pull-offs if you don't want to but this a good way of making sure that you are playing as cleanly as possible as there are numerous string jumps involved in these exercises. If you can get through these with as little noise as possible Then you're doing quite well.
Finally a cheap trick that I learned from Guthrie Govan. If you find noise is still a problem, by a small hairband, slip it over the head of your guitar and rest it on the strings of your guitar behind the nut(not resting on the fretboard). This means there's less noise produced, and if you really want to cut down the noise slip the hairband onto the fretboard to mute the strings further. Be aware that this will practically silence notes lower than the fret the hairband is on, but slipping it to either just on the fretboard or just off it should do the trick.

Bet you weren't expecting me to tell you to use a hairband when you're playing were you? Maybe Guthrie was, but he's a far better teacher than me. Hope this has helped some of you out there.

Let me know if you have any trouble or questions. See you next time!


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