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Extended range bass - muting

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by juggahnaught, Apr 5, 2020.

  1. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    I've been more aware of my muting recently since I've been playing outside of my band context. I'm trying to be more aware of my note releases, as well as harmonic nodes that ring sympathetically on all strings based on my plucking hand position or my fretting hand position.

    One technique that I've always used is a "bar" technique with my index finger on my fretting hand, but this causes harmonics. I've been trying to utilize it a little better but I'm running into another issue where I'm getting finger pain from the stretch because I'm trying to flatten out my fingers and spread them in a weird way.

    I'm watching this video from Archspire:

    This is essentially how I've always played (except he uses movable anchor, and he's like, WAY better) - but now I'm trying to do muting gymnastics to keep everything from ringing (I've updated my plucking hand technique to rest my pinky knuckles on the lower strings to eliminate sympathetic harmonics on the lower strings - this in addition to floating thumb, which I learned a decade ago) and I'm trying to be more proactive with my fretting hand in terms of muting.

    But it seems that in this video, this player doesn't have any of the problems I'm running into - he plays in what I would call a "normal" fashion, using standard muting practices, and, well it's successful. Meanwhile, I use standard muting practices, and while I don't have egregiously ringing strings like I'm strumming a guitar, there's just a lot of extra harmonic noise everywhere. (This might not necessarily be a bad thing from an instrument perspective, but I'd like it to be by choice.)

    How is he able to play normally and not get a lot of harmonic node noise and extra ringing noise? (I've found that muting is much harder when you're playing runs - I don't know how he's doing it without getting any sympathetic ringing.)

    Extended-range bassists out there - how much of a problem is this for you?
  2. Mute lower (in pitch) strings than the one you’re playing, with trailing third and fourth finger of plucking hand.
    Mute higher (not all) strings than the one you’re playing, with non-fretting fingers of fretting hand.
  3. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    :meh: Yeah, that's what I do - the "gate" method, and that's what I've always done; floating thumb for the plucking hand, and regular fret muting for the fretting hand. The issue is sympathetic ringing of the harmonics where my fingers are placed. As I stated, I've been trying to deal with this by changing my technique and adding more muting fingers - I use floating thumb, so I've been using my pinky to add a second mute point on my lower strings so that the harmonic node where my thumb is doesn't ring. (I use rounds and my bass is really bright, so all positions give me a natural higher-order harmonic. I'm not changing my strings or my tone settings.) On the fretting hand, I've been trying to add more fingers as necessary - but this does limit speed and one-finger-per-fret for me, especially in the lower ranges.

    My question is, again - the bass player in the video attached mutes the regular way (as you've stated), but he doesn't have the problems I do. He's able to play quick four-finger phrases on the middle strings without getting any sympathetic ringing, and from what I can see from his fretting hand he uses the same technique I do. (Additionally, it doesn't seem that he has to do any extra muting on his low B string to eliminate harmonics.) What's the difference? He is also using rounds with a bright tone. That's what I'm trying to figure out from fellow six-string players.
  4. What sort of studio magic was done to the bass track? A carefully placed gate (noise gate, not a finger technique) could have been used to clean it up. Perhaps there's one in his signal chain. These are not known parameters for this video performance.
    juggahnaught likes this.
  5. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    Fair point. This is indeed not the raw bass track, and so any extra noise (if it's there) might be lost in the context of the music. (That's what I dearly, dearly hope is happening in my case. Cringe.)
  6. If you want to give it a go, record a raw track with your usual gear and then diddle with it in a DAW (or have someone with one do it with you). Start with the gate threshold very low and then raise it incrementally. I play a 5 string G. Gould (I have to plug it...I love it) and have noticed that a lighter touch and a good setup can help as well. With a low setup, the strings are moving less vertically, meaning less finger drag with the quicker release.
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