Removing chirps from guitar recording

I’m recording an acoustic guitar through a microphone. When changing chords, often my fingers slide on the strings (particularly the lower ones), creating a ‘chirp’. Is there a way to remove these en masse from a track?

I don’t even think there’s a way to do it manually one at a time given that the strings are still moving between the notes. Anything you do during that one little chirp is going to sound like little surgical holes in the sound field.

Isn’t this a little bit like complaining about the breathiness of a flute player? It’s, like, how they work.

Gut strings?

You can mic the guitar to suppress that by aiming a directional mic at the hole. Isn’t there a clip-on acoustic mic that goes on the hole?

Correct me, magnetic pickups don’t have this problem.


Thanks for the quick response.

Isn’t this a little bit like complaining about the breathiness of a flute player? It’s, like, how they work

I’m not real good on guitar yet so they are quite pronounced - as loud as the music when I don’t use a pick. Sounds like I’m recording in a finch flock. The sound I want for recording is the pickless sound. I.e., it sounds more like Andy Williams than Willie Nelson!

Gut strings?

An acoustic only uses metal strings. That is the sound I want.

You can mic the guitar to suppress that by aiming a directional mic at the hole. Isn’t there a clip-on acoustic mic that goes on the hole?

There probably is a mic for the hole, but it will still hear the chirps.

Correct me, magnetic pickups don’t have this problem.

The strings still chirp, if someone with my skill plays them… I’m not an electric guitarist, so I don’t know if/how the pickups filter them. The music goes through the amp, and generally is so much louder than the chirps, so that volume difference alone may be the actual ‘filter’.

Actually, a magnetic pickup translates the side to side motion of the string into electrical energy which is then amplified. Chirps happen when you move your fingers along the string, which either doesn’t generate any sideways motion or it’s minimal. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody chirp an electric guitar.

Did you try straight silence substitution? Select the chirp by dragging through the duration–probably with the magnifier on since they don’t last very long. Edit > Silence.

That’s what it sounds like if you straight take out the chirp and leave nothing. It might work for you.

It’s also possible you have a really bright microphone and it’s making the problem far worse than you think it should be.

Can you post a little bit of a performance somewhere (not on the board)? Which microphone are you using? We have had to talk people out of using certain types of microphones because they just didn’t sound very good.


You can create the “chirping” sound on an electric guitar, but it doesn’t sound like quite the same thing as on a steel string acoustic guitar. It is not uncommon for this effect to be deliberately used on electric guitars, usually in combination with struck notes and quite a bit of feedback and some reverb. When done deliberately, the fingers of the left hand (right handed guitarist) slide along the strings in the direction of headstock, often over a distance of an octave and often followed with a power chord. It creates a kind of screeching, diving effect that can be very effective within the context of loud rock guitar.

Generally I would agree. If you listen to professional recordings of solo acoustic guitar you will clearly hear little “chirps” as the guitarist changes their hand position along the neck. It is particularly noticeable with slow melodic finger-picking. Having said that, it can be rather a distracting and irritating sound if it is too pronounced.

Some strings are more prone to it than others, and old strings are particularly prone chirping. It may be worth trying a different brand of string - aim for something that has quite a smooth surface. If your strings are more than a few months old, you should certainly get new strings for recording.

You can also buy “string lubricant” from music shops which helps to reduce the noise (and extend the life of the strings). I have know guitarists to use WD40 as a string lubricant, but I doubt that this is good for your skin and may lead to skin problems.

It is far better to try and reduce the chirping in the original recording, than trying to remove the sound after making the recording. The chirping is the sound of the strings, and therefore has much in common with the sound that you are wanting to record, making it very difficult to remove without badly affecting the sound of the instrument.

Microphone position can also assist to a high degree. It is generally not best to put the microphone directly in front of the sound hole unless it is a microphone that is designed for that. Positioning the microphone close to the bridge will usually give a balanced sound while minimising the “neck” sounds.

Whenever recording acoustic instruments, you should experiment with the microphone position as this strongly affects the tone. Recording engineers often talk about finding the “sweet spot” for microphone placement.

Thanks for the replies and explanations.
I will try silence substitution.
I am using the mike that came with our Compaq computer more than 5 years ago. It is on top of the computer and I stand about 3 feet away, so it’s not really that close to the guitar.
I use Finger-eze for lubricating the strings. The strings are only a month old - it’s time for a new set anyway, so I’ll try that.

My chirps are longer-lasting (and more annoying) than what you might hear from a good guitar player. It’s mainly because I use mostly bar chords, not open chords. Bar chords are made by a certain fingering that moves along the fretboard, while open chords are generally fingering near the upper end of the neck. When bar chords change it is often a move of the same finger positions up the neck. When open chords change, it is often a change to the fingering, the hand stays in the area of the uppermost frets. If I were real good at it, I would get my fingers up far enough from the string so they don’t slide against the strings when I go from fret to fret, but I’m not that good yet, so they drag along the string causing the chirp.

I have an option that I haven’t tried. I can use a pick and stand back further. The picked sound is much louder than the chirps, so they might get covered, but the picked sound is not as mellow as I would like for some of the songs.
Another option is to play in another room into a professional Shure mike, (the kind used on bandstands), and amp that into the computer room. That way the chirps might be hidden too.

I’ll do some experimenting next week and let you know what I have gotten.

I would definitely recommend using a better microphone, and placing it a lot closer to the guitar - try about 20 cm away from the body, directly over the bridge. That will give you a lot more warmth to the sound and the “chirping” will be far less. After recording you could add a little (yes I mean just a small amount) reverb, so as to get a more “open” sound. If you apply the reverb to a duplicate of the recorded track, then you can mix in as much or little of the reverb as required.

You could also try adding just a touch of chorus which will tend to make the string sound a bit more lively. Take care not to over-do the effects though, and keep a backup copy of the original recording.

These guys are using a grand hoo-haa microphone, but this is a good site to explain the different sounds you can get by simply moving a microphone around an acoustic guitar.

You also need to know that communications microphones–mics intended to be used for phone calls or conferencing intentionally distort sound quality to make voices work better–usually at the expense of musical quality.

You can ignore the blue line on this illustration. This is only to point out that human voices and orchestral instruments take up all those frequencies and pitches of tones, whereas a telephone only transmits between 300 Hz and 3000 Hz. You know that tone the oboe sounds at the beginning of an orchestral performance and then everybody tries to follow it and nobody ever makes it? That’s 440 Hz, also known as “A 440.”

Which microphone to buy is the next question and that’s a book right there. The answer has to start with the computer you have.


This is where we stop and point out that nobody so far has told you how to get rid of it in post…because you can’t.

This is also a good time for you to figure out how to prepare a short performance on-line somewhere so we can listen to it in the remote, off-chance there is a way to get rid of it in post.


And even the great classical players get these chirps from time to time. Listening carefully to recordings by Segovia, Julian Bream and John Williams all reveal the occasional chirp.


Man - you guys are really energetic. Appreciate the responses. I managed to work around it good enough for my purposes.

I bought a 20-foot extension cord for the mike and another for my earphones. I put the mike in the far corner of the room and stepped back into the other corner, almost out the door. Then I used a medium-thickness pick, which makes a pretty loud guitar in that room. This made the guitar loud compared to the chirps (oh, a good listener/picker, or someone to whom they are pointed out, can hear them, but they are under a normal listener’s radar). I then used the Db control when mixing the final deal, turning the guitar down some compared to the vocals.

So with that set-up, I’m OK with the result. Again, thanks for all the responses and suggestions. They helped narrow down the options for solving this. I don’t want to take any more of anyone’s time on this.

If I ever get nerve enough to post a song to one of the hosting sites, I’ll send a link to it, so you can hear the result.

The software is just what I needed - so I can play the guitar with full concentration and then add vocals, without having to get both correct in one take. Thanks to the gurus for making it available.


What you are learning is that MIC placement is a great art - and has a big impact on the recorded sound.

MICing that is too close to the source drives me crazy sometimes on commercial recordings. Example: I have an otherwise excellent recording of the Mozart clarinet quintet which when I listen to on my Quad ELS loudspeakers (very detailed speakers) the sound is totally marred by the clattering of the clarinet keys closing - and I do mean clattering, it’s like someone shaking a can full of nails/screws …

Good luck with your music - and keep practising on that guitar …


Mic placement can have a noticeable impact on your listening experience.