Classical Guitar Strings That Don’t Squeak


Even non-players of the classical guitar notice the string squeaks that the classical guitar produces. Some players become accustomed to the sounds and even consider them (within reason) as somehow being part of the music, part of the charm of the instrument.

But for many players, especially intermediate level and above, string squeaks are huge distractions from the music and unacceptable, especially in recordings and performances.

Since treble strings of nylon are generally smooth, string squeaks almost always occur with wound bass strings. Many leading string manufacturers offer polished bass strings as the solution to reduce or eliminate string noise. Among them are:

  • D’Addario EJ45LP
  • La Bella 413P
  • Savarez 510CJH
  • GHS Vanguard Classics 2500
  • Hannabach Exclusive MT

D’Addario EJ45LP

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LP stands for Lightly Polished. These D’Addario Classical Guitar Strings Pro Arte LP sets consist of silver-plated copper, wound on synthetic multi-filament stranded core basses. The company calls the synthetic material Zyex. And the trebles are clear nylon.

The basses “deliver gut-like tone with extremely long life & consistency.” The composite core basses are mechanically polished to a smooth surface which greatly reduces finger noise. The color of the strings may vary from silver to brown to gray because the polishing process takes away the silver plating to expose the copper wire beneath.

D’Addario grinds off the top surface of the wires so they are a bit uneven and squeaks are reduced.

  • Tension: Medium
  • Bass Set Material: Polished
  • Treble Set Material: Clear Nylon

To many players, the D’Addario EJ45LP (Amazon link) is a reasonable solution to handle squeaks. They believe they get less finger squeak than on most regular strings. Contrary to product claim, however, there are a few who believe the strings don’t last a particularly long time.

Also, while squeaking is reduced, it isn’t eliminated completely. As we will see later in this article, squeaks are more often than not the result of poor left-hand technique and expecting those to vanish is unrealistic.

The feel of the basses to the touch is slightly rough initially, but after playing for some days they smooth out and squeaks are minimized. The LP basses are bright and crisp.

A John Williams CD recorded in the early 2000s mentions EJ45LP as the strings used in the recording. So this solution has been around for a while now.

La Bella 413P Studio strings

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The La Bella 413P appears to be a favorite solution to manage string squeaks. This set of medium-high tension classical guitar strings features precision gold polished wound basses as also high-density nylon trebles. The polished bass strings, as noted by the company, are “the world’s first noise-free classical guitar strings” designed to reduce harsh, squeaky sounds.

The wound strings are polished and smoothed with a stone-grinding method. This helps avoid harsh squeaks when shifting positions or playing a glissando. The La Bella 413POpens in a new tab. (Amazon link) Studio strings are used for studio recordings and in concerts.

Again, because of the polishing process, the color may vary from silver to brown to gray.

  • Tension: High
  • Bass Set Material: Polished
  • Treble Set Material: Clear Nylon 

When strings are brand new they tend to be more prone to string noise and the 413P is no different. After a few days of playing, the strings become lubricated with finger oils and the squeaking reduces. Of course, working on one’s technique will be far more beneficial to bring string noise under effective control.

I have seen La Bella’s 500P set from their Professional Series (like the 413P) being mentioned as excellent for string noise. They are top of the range and recommended by the company for recordings, although no claims are specifically made about eliminating squeaks.

The basses are “tarnish-proof polished wound basses” so it is possible their ‘polished’ nature has a bearing on controlling string noise. And the fact they are good for professional recordings implies a squeak reduction quality. This is of a higher tension than the 413 set, according to product notes.

Savarez Cantiga 510CJH

The highly reputed Savarez line up of strings has two major series of basses: Corum and Cantiga. Each has its variants and they are paired off with a variety of trebles in nylon, rectified nylon and carbon for a vast and bewildering spread of options.

The Cantiga line has its polished variant in its 510CJH High Tension set. The D, A and E basses are hand-polished and paired with the New Cristal HT clear nylon trebles. The polishing smooths out the winding and aids in the reduction of string noise.

  • Tension: High
  • Bass Set Material: Polished
  • Treble Set Material: Clear Nylon

510AJH, 510ARH, 510CRH are other variants which have the same polished basses in High Tension and are viable options depending on which set of trebles you want to pair them with. The 510AJH pairs the Cantiga “polished basses wound with reinforced pure silver” with their Alliance trebles (carbon).

The 510ARH is essentially the same thing (carbon trebles) except it is a Normal Tension set instead of High Tension.

The 510CRH set is also Normal Tension but the polished Cantiga basses are paired with clear nylon New Cristal trebles.

In all these variants, the product claim is that the use of reinforced pure silver along with “advanced technologies” result in greater tone quality, projection and playability. They also have “up to 4 times more long life.” As strings go, it must be mentioned that these strings are expensive for all they promise to offer.

GHS Vanguard Classics 2500

These relatively lesser known strings – GHS Vanguard Classics 2500 string set – feature pure nickel smooth-wound basses paired with clear nylon trebles, designed to reduce finger noise and tone loss. 

If you use something like GHS Fast Fret CleanerOpens in a new tab. (Amazon link) to clean the strings and fretboard, it is always helpful even when the strings are new to keep string noise to a minimum. As has been the constant refrain so far, squeaks will never be completely eliminated without good left-hand technique.

GHS Vanguard Classics 2500 are recommended by users who believe basses are smoother than usual with a pure nickel wrap. I haven’t come across these strings where I live nor do I personally know of anyone who uses them. But the name crops in forums time and again and bears mention.

  • Tension: High
  • Bass Set Material: Polished
  • Treble Set Material: Clear Nylon

Hannabach Exclusive MT

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The Exclusive Hannabach classical guitar strings line originated from the company working closely with renowned musicians and listening to their opinions. The Exclusive sets are available in Medium Tension and High Tension variants.

The Hannabach Exclusive MTOpens in a new tab. (Amazon link) range basses are made “with a new material which has fantastic qualities in its elongation which in turn creates the right tension for quick and perfect tuning, unrivaled sound brilliance and crisp and easy tones together with an outstanding durability.” The basses use a high tech core material – copper round wound wire with high silver plating.

  • Tension: Medium
  • Bass Set Material: Silver Plated
  • Treble Set Material: Clear Nylon

The wire has a much higher silver content for a long lasting play time. That these bass strings can last up to 3 times longer than standard basses is the product claim. They are not polished strings and yet damp down the squeaks. A trial run on a piece like Lagrima should be revealing.

Like the Savarez Cantiga line mentioned earlier, the Hannabach Exclusive MT (or HT) are relatively expensive strings. It is worth mentioning that while the top E and B strings are clear nylon, the G string is Titanyl

The ultimate solution for string squeaks: your technique

Even with polished strings listed above, there is a point of view that all bass strings that have been ground (to avoid squeaking) end up sounding less crisp than regular bass strings. The judgment of sound is always subjective but many claim the ground basses sound dull.

A simpler solution that flamenco guitarists use is to wet their left hand fingertips in vaseline, which they store between the neck and the body of the guitar. Some run their fingers through their hair or wipe their forehead to grease their fingertips.

Since dry fingertips add to the noise, soaking them in warm water for a few minutes to soften them helps some players to greatly reduce squeaks.

The other ‘solution’ to string squeaks is to deny there is a problem in the first place.

Segovia, for instance, was of the opinion that squeaks went with the sound of a classical guitar. There are many who agree with that thought even today. They do not care about guitar squeaks (within reason) for they believe it is part and parcel of the charm of a stringed instrument.

Most expert players and concert professionals approach the issue as one of technique primarily. The left hand needs to release pressure, move up or down the fingerboard as required, and reapply pressure. I remember reading someone in the Delcamp forums saying you should be a helicopter and not an airplane with regard to left-hand changes.

This is the real lasting solution, where the addition of non-squeaky strings (if required) is not the major recourse, but it’s there to provides extra confidence in a recording or performance situation.

The accomplished concert artiste Matthew McAllister demonstrates this ‘pressure-off-pressure-on’ technique in the video below. Worth the ten-minute watch.

Matthew McAllister on avoiding squeaks

On a related note, if you need general help in choosing the right strings for your guitar from all the hundreds of choices out there, read my article 5-Step Guide To Perfect Strings.

If, like many, you have wondered why the G-string on a classical guitar often sounds tubby and what to do about it, check out my article that gives some pointers: Why Your G String Sounds So Bad.

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Happy no-squeaking!

Nylon Plucks

Narayan Kumar is a passionate classical guitarist and an online research buff. He is also one half of the online classical guitar duo DuJu who put out guitar duets regularly on their YouTube channel. Read more about Narayan.

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