Guitar squeaks, spectral editing

I’ve been experimenting with spectral editing to get rid of guitar squeaks, cuz my most recent project got good feedback, except for some pretty nasty squeaks on my strings. I know the best way of fixing it, obviously, is to re-record the guitar parts. But I wanted to know how to do this.

Mike posted a link to a tutorial by Mitch Gallagher at Sweetwater and another by iZotope. I don’t have RX. I tried the Sweetwater stuff, but it wasn’t very effective (mainly automated EQ and volume envelopes). Also tried de-essing as well as multiband compression. Wasnt’ getting great results.

Finally, I started messing around with spectral editing, and must say it’s pretty impressive.

Just thought I’d share the results. I’m posting three clips (3–5 seconds or so), with before and after spectral editing. For how loud the squeaks were, I’m pleased. It does dull the crispness of the guitar a touch, but only for the duration of the squeak. REAPER allows you to fade in and out temporally, as well as at the high or low end of the frequency distribution. In the mix, I don’t think it stands out that much, but I welcome your thoughts.

I am using REAPER with it’s own built-in spectral editing. Please tell me what you think.

Clip 1


Clip 2


Clip 3


Oh, to hear what it sounds like in the full song, go to my bashing post on IRD.

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Hey Tesgin,

Gets the job done though, I must say, in some cases (clip 1 & 3 in particular) the squeaks have been reduced to insectoid sounds rather than eliminated. Bottom line: always record a better performance, choosing strings, mics and placement carefully to minimize the noise in the first place. When you do have a golden performance that can’t be topped, I’d be very spare in any “repairs,” and just let the performance shine through.

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I havent listened to the clips, but I’ve used Reaper’s spectral editing for this exact same thing. It’s kind of a pain but pretty effective for taking really obnoxious squeaks and bringing them down to a level where they dont really matter. Sure, Idealy it would be better if the original recording had no squeaks to fix, but if they are there and sticking out to much spectral editing is pretty nice to have.

The spectral editing sounds cool! I don’t know if you processed them differently, but I think of the 3 clips, perhaps the best results were in clip 3.

Thanks, Mike and JC. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, esp cuz these were some loud squeaks.

FWIW, Kenny Gioia has a pretty thorough video tutorial here.

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I always leave the squeaks in. It’s what guitar players do, it’s an integral sound of a guitar being played. The same with breathing on vocal tracks - people want to hear that kind of stuff.


The editing improved it a little, but I don’t think it was all that bad in the first place. As long as the squeaks don’t overpower the performance I’d just leave it in as a natural artifact. Listeners generally think it is cool to hear that kind of stuff, engineers stress over sterilizing the performance sometimes.

Thanks, AJ and Bob. That’s helpful. I honestly didn’t give it a second thought either, when I posted, but a few people did comment on how loud the squeaks were. Then, after my attention is drawn to it, I really noticed it. I appreciate the reminder to not be too compulsive about it.

Still, that spectral editing was pretty cool, huh? It was so much more effective than de-essing. Will be a helpful tool for me in the future for similar “clean up” tasks.