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Can I mute with the left hand while holding the neck like a soda can?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SalmonKing, May 21, 2011.

  1. SalmonKing


    Apr 28, 2011
    Someone in another thread (can't remember who; sorry) advised players to hold the neck somewhat like a soda can, with a curved thumb. I tried it last night and liked it, but found I lost my ability to mute the higher-pitched strings by laying my fingers flat against them. Is it possible to mute with the left hand while holding the neck in this way?
  2. Can you post a pic or reference? If what im visualizing is correct, your fingers would arch over the higher strings. Can you mute the e and g? If so I think I get you, but I fail to see how that's beneficial or how it'd be possible to left hand mute with the arching and all. Could be wrong...
  3. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    Only my opinion but....IF you mean using your thumb draped over the neck to mute the E & A, etc - there are some people who do use that however it's not generally considered an ideal situation in which to learn from.
    Once the neck movement in classic form becomes natural, experimenting w/ it is one thing but the proper techniques should be learned prior so that fluidity in scales and related exercises are accurate and do not strain the wrist. Using the thumb as a mute may appear natural or easier but it may have a tendency to "freeze" the fretting-hand so that in certain situations transitions are slowed down.

    I mute by simply relaxing my hand, maintaining my thumb at the back of the neck. Occasionally I will "bar" the index finger (of the fretting hand) so that I can have a clear note waiting. This gives me the ability to transition & to develop a tempo with BOTH hands somewhat like a drum. I relieve strain by making sure the the height of the neck is tall enough so that the fingers of the fretting hand are not "reaching" in either direction.

    A great many issues can be addressed by where you wear the instrument.
  4. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    I'm guilty as chargedÂ…:D
    Make sure the upper half of the thumb pad is above the neck axis (I hope your bass has a C-shaped neck). If the resting spot of the thumb is too low, you will need to stretch the muting fingers in an unnatural manner. I use only my index finger for muting the upper strings when open, if I mute them at all.
  5. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    Correct. The thumb should not reach around the fingerboard, but rest on the back of the neck, just above the neck axis.
    The big advantages are that a curved thumb prevents flexing the wrist too far and that not stretching the thumb improves control over the little finger.

    For further details, see my pages, link below.
  6. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    Frankly I have seen some great Bassists (Wooten) use that technique (thumb mute).
    However in addressing this (just for discussion's sake) I think a great deal depends on where a person is - in their learning (Lord knows I'm still learning after several decades). IMO, if someone is honestly just starting out and hasn't learned to really comfortably shift throughout the neck; they may slow their progress by not addressing the most fluid methods to make transitions in a linear modality up & down the neck (via scales or what have you).

    When playing with a lot of garage-bands I occasionally can pick up on who has followed a progressive method of learning & who went with what may have been a bit too advanced for them. I don't think it makes them poor players - but I do think it can make certain issues much more difficult then employing a very organized system (of learning).

    As an example: Slap/Funk is VERY demanding & often folks don't see that complexity from a rhythmic standpoint. Not only are syncopated rhythms demanded as per a drummer's exacting standards but clean notes are also imperative. A great instrument means much less if they can't get their fingers cleanly behind the fret, mute when appropriate and be rock-steady in their time keeping. If they don't practice and understand why it's a good idea to maintain a clear foundation, later they are frustrated by "slurring" their fret hand. It's just my opinion, obviously.
    I've seen a totally self-taught guy rip beautifully in the most complex fashion.....however he was a VERY disciplined guy when acting as his own teacher.
  7. slaphappychappy


    May 25, 2011
    you can use your thumb, i just use my fingers across the strings. it debends on your neck size i guess.

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