Pick scraping noise - how do I get rid of it?

Hi all,
I have been noticing an issue with my playing (or perhaps set up) that is driving me a bit nuts. When I pick the same string repeatedly (necessary for certain phrases in songs I’m working on) using a high gain/distorted tone (not palm-muted), there is this “chic chic chic” noise which comes through with the tone of the note. It is the pick hitting/scraping the string, but no matter which way I hold the pick and at what angle I attack the string, I still get the noise.

I’m sure I read a similar post on here a while back (but couldn’t find it again now) and I think it mentioned that the pick was scraping along the string at an angle which caused the noise, however I have tried carefully to go straight down on the string and still got the noise.

So, reaching out for some help before I completely lose it! :joy:

Here is a video of me trying to demonstrate the issue, hopefully you can hear the noise. This isn’t exactly my typical picking style, I was trying to manipulate the pick to attack at different angles to check if any particular way avoided the noise, but it didn’t seem to matter.

Is this a technique issue? Or maybe an issue with my set up? Do I need more noise reduction or some specific EQ? Or is this just something I have to live with when using distortion? Any ideas welcome! Thanks in advance! :smiley: :+1:

My set up for this recording was:
Guitar using bridge pickup > Katana 100 > Lead channel > Overdrive Booster > Delay > some minor EQ and NR

*PS sorry for the most annoying video in ever!! :hear_no_evil: :sob: :sweat_smile:

I get a similar / annoying noise at times with my thumb pick on my acoustic guitar, I can hear the pick scraping across the strings. Have had to work on the angle at which my pick attacks the string.

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Yeah it’s an annoying sound :rofl:

I wasn’t sure what would cause it, but I watched your video and played around on my guitar with similar amp settings. But different amp, different guitar, etc etc.

First it didn’t happen, but then I got it to happen by changing where i was picking. I reckon it’s string harmonics being amplified by the gain based on where you’re picking. Not how you’re picking. Bridge pickup picks up more harmonics, gain boosts those harmonics, and picking in the same spot while fretting far up the neck could boost them each time. I’m assuming it doesn’t happen when playing clean, just with loads of gain?

I noticed when I moved my picking closer to the neck pickup, I got less of that sound. So try picking closer to the neck.

I really don’t know for sure though, just trying to help figure it out.

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Thanks @tony, haven’t ever tried a thumb pick but I could totally imagine how it could create a similar noise :thinking:

Thanks @jkahn, you’re definitely on to something! :face_with_monocle: The frequency changes as I move my pick closer to the neck, so it could well be harmonics like you say. I tried it just now and couldn’t get the noise to go away but it definitely changed!

Correct! I will try another video of the issue and show the movement and the change between clean and distorted.

Thanks again! :sunglasses: :+1:

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Here’s a second vid showing the issue again but progressively moving the pick closer to the neck and also a comparison with a clean tone.
(once again, sorry for the awful audio!! :confounded: :laughing:)

Yeah, using a lot of gain is like looking through a microscope and seeing bacteria the size of a cat.

As the thin string are not wound, it cannot be the result of the pick getting stuck in the windings. Personally, it wasn’t distracting on your recording. I think you’ll get used to it in time.


I am not sure if there is a more pro way of fixing it but two suggestions would have to be applied - one which JK mentioned moving around with your pick and finding a sweet spot (which I guess could also have something to do with how close to a pickup you are?). And second thing is to try hit strings more gently, when you see those shredders doing their finger dancing around the fretboard they do not use a lot of strength to pull those strings, so my personal bet would be a mixture of the two

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A plus one for harmonics from me.

Check out

You if you can understand how to do them on purpose you may be more informed as how to avoid them?

I am guessing it’s when the pic is making contact with a string that’s already ringing out.

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P.S. the thread with solved scraping noise involved flat too strings (would only apply to the wound strings I would guess though…

I’m going the other way! Need to find some spikey topped strings to improve my pic scrapes :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi Jeff,

What I am hearing is that your approach to the string is slow enough to allow the string to vibrate against the pick a few times before you get full contact.

See if you can attack the string a bit faster without adding a lot of power you may not need.

Certainly the gain level is highlighting this for you. Also, the reason it is reduced near the bridge is because the string isn’t moving as far. try it near fret 12 and it should be really bad. :slight_smile:

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Thanks everyone! Really appreciate your insights on this! :pray:

:rofl::rofl::rofl: It so is! :joy:

Ah! Yes, good suggestion! I tend to be quite heavy handed, I’ll give that a try. Thanks Adi :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

Thanks Dave, great point! I haven’t checked out that lesson yet but really want to work on pinch harmonics so that could be doubly beneficial! :grinning::+1:
Thanks for finding the other thread too!

Your pick scrapes were awesome in the OM performance mate! Thought they were killer!! :metal::metal::metal:

Thanks Michael! Ah yeah that’s a great suggestion! I think you’re on to something, I’ll give it a try! :crossed_fingers:

Thanks again everyone for your help! :grinning::+1:

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This might seem like a dumb suggestion, but have you tried other types of picks? For example, I get a scraping noise using Tortex picks, but not with Dunlop Standard Nylon – so that’s what I use. The “softer” edge of the Nylons seems to alleviate the noise.


Hi Mike, and welcome!! :wave::smiley: (Although it looks as though you have been on board for a while! :wink::sweat_smile:)
Interesting point! I almost exclusively use Dunlop Jazz III’s but I have plenty of other varieties that I could try. I will give that a crack and see if it helps. Thanks so much!! :smiley::+1:

I was just going to suggest the same thing, about it being the string vibrating against the pick.

Some effects will also make it far more noticeable.
I’ve just tried a few options, and the higher the drive, the more noticeable it is.

I am wondering if putting a compressor in front of the drive would help tame it, but my Amplifi setup has a fixed effect order, so I can’t try it.

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Thanks Moray! :+1:

I should be able to try that with the Katana I think? I’m at work now but will give it a crack tonight. I had a brief go at the other suggestions above, including changing picks, but no real success unfortunately. My attack on the string is likely flawed and I did find it challenging to alter the weight and velocity I put in to it, so that is certainly something I will need to keep working on.

I will update later on any progress trying the compressor!

Thanks again! :slight_smile: