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Flotaing thumb muting problems

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CaptainTuna, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Hi guys!

    I've encountered a problem with my floating thumb technique. This happens:


    I'm playing on the g-string in the above picture (also notice my great paint skill). At some point my thumb fails to mute the E string. Ever countered this problem or is it just me and my weirdo thumb? Maybe my hand positition is what's wrong in this case and I don't really need to mute as far as the the D-string, but it just comes natural to me to position it that way.

  2. mcglyph


    Aug 17, 2011
    The real question is how long have you been working on this, and how slowly? I like everything else isn't magic, got to work on it, maybe even change it to fit your particular style. And certainly you should be learning to mute with your fretting hand, especially with a five string, as that big heavy B will resonate very easily. Best.
  3. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    I've been working on my technique a lot, and I still can't find what fits me best really, I continue switching from moveable anchor to floating thumb and everytime I find they both have flaws (for me that is, I'm not saying they are wrong, I just can't seem to fully apply them it seems).

    Still even if I work on it my thumb will remain as it is now and its shape won't change. I believe that if I keep on working with a faulty technique I won't improve my playing much, especially if I don't understand what is wrong with it.

    As for muting with my fretting hand:... wait, how can I mute the E with my fretting hand if I am playing on the G?

    EDIT: found someone who has/had my exact same problem in the "Ask Todd Johnson" section!
  4. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    This may be my weird solution, but I often use the thumb of my fretting hand to mute one or two strings. I also use it for fretting purposes sometimes.
    Your right hand thumb could also mute B, E and A, leaving the D for the strumming fingers. They can land on the D string, muting it, after having hit the G.
  5. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    i don't and won't use the FT!

    (it just slows me down):(
  6. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    It feels pretty awkward when I try muting with my thumb, and my teacher always yells at me when I try to do things like that...but still I'll give it another shot, you never know.

    I guess you're right though about the right hand though, It's not that I place the thumb that far because I want to mute the D with it, it's just that...it comes natural. I guess I just have to get used to keep a hand position a little less natural and try to mute as far as the A string with my thumb. I mute the D by "landing" the fingers that played on the G on it, just as you said.

    Other people (Todd Johnson section, one of the first posts) said he solved it by slightly rotating the hand (counterclockwise I guess), and that helps a bit!
  7. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Intersting, tell me more! What do you use? I tried moveable anchor and just can't manage to mute some strings.
  8. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Maybe your E string is just too low so your thumb doesn,t touch it because the B and A strings are too high ?
  9. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    i have x-large hands and my fingers are more comfy draped over the strings (perpendicular). i use both hands to mute but my thumbs are strictly anchors.

    whatever way feels best for anyone will still require many hours, (days, months, etc) of practice. i'm sure your teacher is smarter than me, but i like my results.
  10. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    I have to say that using moveable anchor feels great for me, I am just worried about the fact that when I play on the G string I leave the B unmuted. Not sure if I have to worry about that or not...not that it vibrates too much.

    I guess I'll just try sticking with moveable anchor and see if the unmuted B gives my too much trouble. I still feel that leaving it unmuted may not the best techique though.

    The string height is not a problem in this case, it's the first thing i checked.

    What "amazes" me negatively is the fact that I've asked local bassists how they mute and they all tell me they either keep their thumb on the pickup or constantly on the B...what the? Seriously, I just can't see how you can do your muting exclusively with your fretting hand.
  11. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    If you use a pick (just imagine), most of the muting is done with the fretting hand. At least, I do.

    I've been playing the bass for well over two years now. In the very beginning I underestimated the importance of muting. I created a foam mute and placed it near the bridge. It worked well, but still wasn't the real thing. So I ordered myself to practise muting every day, both left and right handed. This just worked. I now have the skills to mute whatever has to be muted, without having to think. It may be a little hard to believe, but the muting just takes place at a subconscious level.

    As you write about a yelling teacher, I draw the conclusion that you do follow lessons. Why not asking your teacher to sort out the muting before making further progress?
  12. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Thanks for the answer Jay2u!

    I have to say I'm pretty new to a pick, but I thought that the muting would still, in part of course, be done on the right/picking hand. (that place on the inner side of the hand where the thumb joins the palm) I still don't get how you can stop vibrations on the B or E string while playing on the G, it totally sounds wierd...unless you're playing a single note on the G string and got the rest of the fingers on the fretting hand free, but it's not always like that.

    As for my teacher...that's the reason why I don't really like him. He's all about theory and I had to learn the technique by myself.

    But I've got a question for you: when you talk about muting, do you also refer to muting strings so that they don't vibrate because of resonance (B string vibrating when you play a B on the G string)? Because maybe I failed to let you guys know that that's my main problem at the moment.
  13. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Still working on it--not perfected yet--but I've started using the big muscle at the base of my thumb to mute the B and E strings when I'm plucking the G.

    My guess is that the details of an effective muting technique come down to individual anatomy, y'know? Like the way someone's slap technique is influenced by how much the thumb tip bends back.
  14. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    Basically keeping all unintended strings quiet, no matter the cause of their vibration. Fortunately it mainly concerns the strings which are lower in pitch than the one played.
    Yes the palm of the right hand may / can be involved in muting. It's a technique I don't use, as it limits my picking speed.
  15. Qlanq


    Jul 9, 2007
  16. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    But then if you go exclusively for fretting hand muting I still don't get how you mute strings like A or E (supposing B is muted by the thumb on the fretting hand) while playing on the G. Doesn't that require at least one finger on the fretting hand to do that? It sounds to me that it would limit my speed much more than muting with my palm would, but of course that's just me, and I'm really interested on how you do it!

    Maybe I just have to try that. It totally feels unnatural at first and a bit painful, but yes, I can manage to mute strings quite well that way!
  17. 1. Awesome illustration. Really helps to understand the question.

    2. You're right, in this situation thumb often is not enough. I use pinky and ring finger to help the thumb with low strings muting. I just put them on the strings which thumb can't cover (usually they're somewhere in the middle, just like you pictured, for example, A and E strings).

    3. Your teacher seems strange to me. Yelling at you for "improper" muting and don't teching you the "right" way...
  18. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    Maybe it's the size of my hands which makes certain techniques easier. Playing a 4-string, I easily mute both A and E with the left hand thumb if I like to. The fingers of the fretting hand are also able to reach almost every string everywhere. Have a look at: Quintin Berry, just for fun. I found this on another thread. It's not a technique I'd promote, but it shows what the fretting hand can do.
  19. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    I mute with my fretting hand, but in cases of open notes, I use my thumb for E and A strings and my ring finger for D and G. For 5 strings, I just use the thumb for B/E and ring finger for A/D/G.

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