Shh…How To Remove String Noise While Fingertapping

guitar lessons


When you begin to finger tap on the electric guitar, being able to play the music you like to a point where it is recognizable seems like a hard task. When you finally can play the music, you might also hear other sounds that just shouldn't be there.  Your sloppy guitar playing can be the difference between sounding like a pro and having an amateur playing style. Removing string noise will produce crystal clear phrases that will impress you and your audience.

In this guitar lesson, I have included 3 methods to remove string noise when fingertapping so that you can play faster, cleaner and more accurately. When you go through these methods try to focus on applying them just one at a time before using them altogether. If this is new to you it may take some time to adjust to the new playing habits that you will develop.

The process to adjusting your fingertapping technique to play clean and accurately can be extremely rewarding as small changes can produce massive results to the way your guitar playing sounds. A lot for a little, this is something you should be excited about.

First, an introduction on string noise.

When you are fingertapping there are two types of unwanted string noise that you will need to remove to play tapped phrases.

The first type is the strings below the note you are playing (assuming you're not fingertapping on the first string which has no strings below it). 

The second type of unwanted string noise is the strings above the note you are playing.

So now that you know what we are seeking to destroy here it is:

3 of the best methods to overcome unwanted string noise when tapping

1. Change the angle of the fretting hand fingers that are being used

2. Mute the strings with the fretting fingers that aren’t being used

3. Use your heel of the picking hand to mute strings above the tapped note

When you are fingertapping the tapping finger does not simply hammer down and lift straight back up. It pulls off with a downward flick towards the ground and sometimes this causes our tapping finger to touch the strings below the desired tapped note. When this happens, especially when using high gain or distortion, the unwanted string sustains and clashes with the notes we want to hear.

Before we get into the specific methods of removing string noise, check your right hand tapping technique. If the pull off is causing your finger to touch more than one string below the tapped note then the pull off is too exaggerated and needs to be done with less movement. You can still achieve a strong articulation with only a small movement and it is more efficient for your muscles.

Got it? Cool. Now we can start on the techniques that will help with the first type of string noise – below the note.

1. Change the angle of the fretting hand finger that are being used

You can mute the string directly below the tapped note by changing the angle of the fretting hand finger to mute the string beneath it with the underneath pad of the fretting hand finger.

2. Mute strings with the fretting hand fingers that aren’t being used

You can also use the fingers of the fretting hand you aren’t using in your lick to touch the unwanted strings below the note. You can use one or more fingers but just be aware that if you are pressing lightly in certain parts of your fretboard, may hear natural harmonics. Experiment with the pressure and position of your fretting finger to ensure that all notes are muted.

3. Use the heel of the picking hand to mute strings above the tapped note

When you are fingertapping, you can use the heel of your fingertapping hand to mute the strings above by resting it on the strings. To find the heel place your hand flat on a table, pretend the table is your fretboard and lift all your fingers and thumb without taking your whole hand off the table. The part of your hand that is still on the table while your fingers are lifted is the heel.

The methods themselves as you can see are not that complex, start using them in your practice and you will see a massive improvement in the quality of your music. Experiment with your fretboard and see what new slippery licks you can come up with. 

The author, Daniel Bainbridge, teaches [guitar lessons in Kelmscott], Western Australia. If you are sick and tired of making no progress playing electric guitar and you live in Western Australia, be sure to visit the link above.