Guitar to bass: Muting the hardest adaptation?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Diamond_Dave, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. Hi folks--I've been playing guitar for a little over two years and recently picked up the bass. While many aspects of the guitar carry right over to the bass, it seems to me like the biggest adaptation I'm having to make is muting the strings I'm not playing at all times. I never really needed to worry about that on guitar, whether acoustic or electric, although certainly I could and did do mutes when needed.

    Is this a pretty normal thing for guitarists who pick up the bass? Does the whole notion of playing one note at a time and then muting it off just take time and practice for those of us who dabble on the high and low end?

  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Yes and yes.
  3. Ronbassman


    Jun 1, 2011
    I mute the upper strings with the same finger I use while I'm fretting the strings. The lower strings are naturally muted with the plucking fingers.
  4. jeffmensch

    jeffmensch Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2012
    Cambridge, Ontario
    Yes, you've summarized it very well. I found the same challenge making the transition from guitar to bass. It took several months to get this technique down. It becomes more natural over time and eventually you won't even think about it consciously. You'll also find that your guitar playing has improved after playing bass for a while. Playing a different instrument gives you new skills that can be applied to others. Keep up the practise and it will come.
  5. spz8


    Jan 19, 2009
    Glen Cove, NY
    Use the floating thumb technique, if playing finger style on the plucking hand.
  6. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    You didn't play guitar in a loud band context did you? I ask because, muting is very important with guitar too, at loud volumes. And yes, it just takes a little time. Being aware of the issue is 3/4 of the solution, by the way. So don't get frustrated.
    jazzyvee likes this.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    That's a good point.
  8. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I came over using a pick. So palm mute came with me. Any bass is noisy. Have to do something, I use flats and foam rubber at the bridge along with palm mute.

    The flats and foam rubber give an upright bass sound which I like. Stick a sock under the strings at the bridge and see if this could work for you.
  9. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    +1. Here it is demonstrated.

  10. LOL No, I didn't. :D

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. :)
  11. oliverjr73


    Feb 13, 2014
    I also found that if I use the pad of my index finger to fret notes but use the tips of my other fingers combined with a floating thumb technique was the easiest for me to mute notes with out any of the beginner problems like harmonics ringing out and such.
  12. Even starting out as a bassist I found one of the tougher things to learn was the muting, but just kept practicing using some lessons from, and like somebody mentioned ,after a while it just becomes second nature. Just natural now, I don't even think about it.
  13. jazzyvee


    Aug 11, 2012
    United Kingdom
    I was just about to say the same thing. Before playing bass I used to play guitar professionally on big festival stages and being able to control extraneous noise truly is important at those volumes.
    As for bass I've learnt to finger notes in a way that allows me to touch the lower pitched strings with the remaining fingers to mute unplayed strings. Sometimes I mute with the right hand or left hand depending on what I'm playing, what string I'm playing and the technique I'm using to make the notes.
    One of the things that has sub consciously developed is my little finger of my right hand rests on the underside of the B-string almost all the time that I'm not playing that string and my thumb rests on the top of the E-string whilst I'm playing the A-D or G strings. Those last 3 strings are muted by my left hand.
  14. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    After muting and not filling our bass lines with notes the next item that helped me was this locking with the kick drum thing. Locking to me was matching the bpm click track. And yes that is first, however, we need to be working toward locking with the drum track. We and the drummer work together - if he goes boom boom de boom so do we.

    Locking with the rhythm as well as the bpm took me a little while to figure out. This video goes into detail on that boom boom de boom thing.

    This video get's into how you go about locking.

    You and the drums are the rhythm section and you should work together as one unit.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014