Do you have any advice for a fellow player that is really fed up with "string noise"? Other than playing without picks?
Based on your second question, I think you are referencing what I've usually heard referred to as "pick noise". If so, here are a few thoughts:
- If you're not playing material that needs a lot of sustain, you might find that setting your instrument up for a faster decay would minimize the force with which the vibrating string would strike your picks. Tom Nechville's "The Dynamics of Banjo Sound" would be an excellent resource if you haven't done much with setup before.
- Different types of picks will make different types and amounts of noise. This is probably more true for flatpicks than for fingerpicks (since most fingerpicks will be made of very similar material), but would probably be worth exploring.
- Reshaping your picks, or changing your hand position, could allow the pick to strike at a different angle - which might or might not improve things.
- Different string gauges, or even different string brands, could also effect how much pick noise you perceive.
Best of luck!