Join Larry Crane for an in-depth discussion in this video Tame string squeaks, part of Music Production Secrets.
- [Voiceover] Acoustic guitar players frequently move their fingers along the strings and cause string squeaks. Like this. (acoustic guitar strumming and finger movement) Right there, you can hear, you know, the sound of the hand moving up the round wound strings, and that's fine, that's a natural part of playing guitar, but sometimes it's too much and it's something that jumps out of a mix with other instruments, or distracts from a very quiet solo guitar part that's being played, and you wanna find a way to attenuate, or reduce those squeaks.
So I have found ways of doing it by cutting and using clip gain, or EQing little snippets of songs, or whatever needs to be done, but I really like using Izotope's RX 5 noise reduction program to attenuate these things in a very surgical manner. So we're in Pro Tools right now, we're gonna use Izotope's RX 5 Connect plugin to send it over to the stand alone version of RX 5, and there it is, we have part one and part two obviously. Let's find that low squeak.
Visually seeing it, this is just an awesome way to see where it is too. They tend to go up and down in frequency and I can guarantee you, there's one right there, that's that first one we just heard. In order to attenuate that, the lassoo function is great, and you can kind of grab that first fundamental part of that sound and listen to it as well, down here. That's definitely most of what we're hearing. You can see other versions of that, harmonics of the fundamental going up the ladder here, so to speak, but this is the one that's got a lot of energy to it, you can tell 'cause it's very bright, almost white, and we use the Gain module plugin thing here, we'll just do like, say 4 dB of cut, we're just gonna reduce the volume of this thing, you can see it's getting a little darker in the track.
Now let's hear that. (acoustic guitar strumming and hand movement) So the tone's gotten a little brighter now because we've attenuated the lower component. So I think we could get in here, we could really attenuate a larger swathe of it, so to speak. Let's try this, and see if that sounds right. (acoustic guitar strumming and hand movement) So that took a lot of the body out of it, it's still in there but it sounds a little more distant. (acoustic guitar strumming and hand movement) And a lot of times that'll work really well.
Now for higher squeaks, we've got some over here in this next section. We can just attack these in a different way. (acoustic guitar strumming and hand movement) Hear those squeaks as it moved along there? We started to get some real-- (acoustic guitar strumming and hand movement) These are easy to see as sort of a more straight line, you got the whistle, same kind of thing, just attenuate this a little bit.
Go up here, grab those harmonics, the fun harmonics. Look for these things, these little whistles, these are, they're showing up bright, it's in a spot where there's no chord being played, all this little region is the squeak, so sometimes attenuating lots of little bits of it is the way to go. Or you can do like we kinda did earlier, do sort of a bulk attenuation.
Just brings it down a bit. Another way to work with this kinda problematic sound is to use Spectral Repair, and there's an attenuate function in there. This is more overt, with the gain plugin you can just kinda do little increments and listen, with this you technically can, but a lot of times it'll just pole the sound, this is meant to be more like a problem solver, it'll just wipe the sound right off the map, so to speak. So you've got something like here. And when you hit that, (acoustic guitar strumming and hand movement) It's a little more of a whole sale reduction, that worked really good in that case, in some cases it can be too much and it'll pole some of the playing out of the track, and you won't really hear the kind of finger movement and things that you wanna hear so I like using it for specific things, more like picks hitting the body of the guitar where I don't want it, or things like that, but it's a really great way to attenuate real problems, where as the gain one's a little more subtle in you can get in there and really fine tune the tracks.
So here's a really great example of how new technology is helping us conquer old problems. The RX 5 is a great way to attenuate this, and to get a track ready and put it in your mix, and it's gonna work really well.
These tutorials work with any DAW, in almost every recording scenario, and are based on Larry's 20+ years of experience recording, producing, and mixing some of the world's best musicians, including Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, She & Him, Jolie Holland, and Stephen Malkmus. Tune in every week for another tip.