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More On Muting

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 62 Vintage J, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. When I am playing (let's just say 1/4 notes for the sake of the argument), and moving back and forth between open A and open E, I can't mute the strings properly. From E to A, muting the E is not a problem as I can use my thumb. But going from A to E, I can't get a good mute. I have tried using my left hand (unused) fingers by lightly resting on the (still resonating) A string, but the decay/mute is not 100%. Not clean.

    Should I be using my right (plucking hand) middle finger on the A when moving from A to E? I have tried it, but it is tricky as ****.

    Not sure I explained this properly, but suggestions and tips are appreciated. I really want to perfect the sound and style.
  2. Muting with the left hand can work, try make as much contact with the string as you can like with three fingers, also experiment a bit as to where you get the best results on the neck, muting over the 5th fret for example can lead to ringing harmonics, there is a spot around the 4th fret that really deadens the strings, see if that gives you better results.
  3. I have 'sort of' tried that technique. Although I have been only using one finger to mute. If I push too hard, then I hit a note. If I push too lightly, then I just get 'noise', and not a mute. If I am not 'open stringing', my other fingers are tied up on other frets.

    I must be doing something wrong....
  4. repoman


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    Why not use the E/5th fret for your A...no need to mute.
  5. Yes, the E/ 5th Fret does it, but it's little more complicated for me (THE NOVICE!).

    The song is Caribbean Queen @ 5th Fret A/E, 3rd Fret A/E,
    1st Fret A/E, and Open A/E. Then I move back up in sequence. So I need my fingers at the 1st Fret after the open strings. If I jump up and play the A on the E/5th, then I have to jump down to the 1st Fret/A very quickly. Playing at the bottom end of the Frets is difficult in and of itself, at this stage of developement! I'm moving faster than my beginners hands can comprehend.

    Appreciate the suggestions. Practice. Practice. Practice......
  6. +1 Left hand muting.

    There is only so much you can do with your right hand. When you don't want more than one note to ring out, keep your fingers flat on the neck. This will mute everything but the note you want.

    If you are used to arching your fingers all the time like you would on a guitar, this may take some getting used to, but it's worth it. Left hand muting is where it's at.
  7. When you say flat on the neck, I assume you mean flat on the fretboard and strings. If I am assuming correctly, then how will just the note I want be selectively 'not muted'? Aren't the flat fingers across all strings?

    Sorry to sound so stupid, but you are giving good advice and I want to grasp it completely!


  8. Not at all stupid, muting and playing cleanly is difficult and takes time, it's thinking about the notes you are playing and the strings you are not all at the same time, many instruments don't have this problem, when a note is not played its quiet even a panio has felt pads to stop the strings unless the pianist presses the sustain pedal. As you keep playing it does get easier because as the fingers build strength and independence it becomes more natural to keep the fingers you are not playing a note with still lightly on the other strings, these fingers can be flatted a bit to aid in muting, try avoid fingers collapsing at the joints unless you are wanting to bar across two strings. For muting open strings, like if you playing open E and need to put in a rest, then four fingers lightly flat across the strings at about the 4th fret will do it.
  9. The above post mentions something VERY important. If you are muting with your left hand, lightly touching unwanted strings, you should mute over frets that don't have strong harmonics. He used the 4th fret as an example, because, while you can get two harmonics out of that span, they are pretty weak. You have to really try to get them to ring through. However, having your fingers flat on the fret board/strings over the 5th fret will give you a strong harmonic if you aren't careful.

    Now, to clarify what I was saying:

    You are correct. I meant to say your four fretting fingers should naturally rest flat across the strings (again- at a fret with a very weak harmonic), so if you play any string with your fingers flat, every string should be muted.

    Try this:

    All four fingers flat across the neck to start. Playing any note will be muted. Then, use your index finger to fret a G or A or whatever on the E string, while your other three fingers still flat on the fret board and over the strings. Play the note on the E string. Then, keep fretting the E string with the rest muted by your other three fingers flat, and strum all four strings. You should hear the fretted note on the E string and then the ADG strings muted. Practice this to where you can keep all your fingers flat while moving around strings etc.

    Does that make sense? I could take a pic, but you really need a video to see it. Ask as many questions as you need to. Left hand muting is VERY important for anyone trying to improve their technique. I want you to understand it and use it to help you become the bass player you want to be.

    Hope I helped...
  10. Also,
    placing pressure across the fretboard rather than towards it with your left hand will allow positive muting without fretting notes as well.
  11. Thanks for the 'tips'. Give me a day or two with the Bass in the Hands, to (attempt to) try your techniques. I'm sure I'll be back with more detailed questions.

  12. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    Praise the lord for this post. I'm having the same problem. I can't play clean to save me. Trying to position my left hand fingers to mute to get rid of the excess note ringing I hear when I had already switched off of that particular string and fret. Does it take a long time to finally start playing clean? (only been play since June)
  13. I'm probably the wrong guy to answer this but ..... maybe 5 years! It seems like lots of people play bass. Clean is a different story.

    I've got short fingers to start with, so proper placement and technique are made that much more difficult. That doesn't stop me from practicing a couple hours every day, and asking for help on TB!

  14. Tense Zombie

    Tense Zombie

    Dec 4, 2012
    Central PA
    Hey, thanks for the description on this; that's a really good way to think of it, NOT arching your fretting hand. I'm just getting back into bass, and I think I get exactly what you mean. From years of guitar playing, I still want to palm mute everything, but the fret hand mute has that distinctive sound. Sorry, didn't mean to hijack, just concurring....
  15. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I use my RH fingers extensively for muting, but it's probably somewhat in conjunction with my left as well (by lightening the pressure on a fretted note).

    Try practicing scales or string skipping exercises and such, or whatever you like to warm up with and create clear separation/muting between every single note with an RH mute.

    This technique sounds cool but what if your music calls for left hand agility (like where you have to play a lot of notes)?
  16. Use rest stroke on the A string to mute the E string. Try using your thumb on the E string and coming all the way through to rest in the A string to mute it. Alternately, try playing A in the 5th fretof the E string
  17. You can mute with the ring finger à la Gary Willis. Give it a few months... or years. ;)
  18. Ha, yeah. I'm in the latter it's taken me a little over a year to get but it's definitely worth it, just for the straight wrists that it encourages alone.