Muting notes with the right hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Tony Canevaro, May 10, 2004.

  1. Tony Canevaro

    Tony Canevaro

    Jan 4, 2004
    Once again, here is a question that would be answered if I was taking lessons...sigh...soon I hope.

    I have trouble muting or ending the notes that I play when I have to strike several different strings in succession. What I mean is: it is easy to stop that 1/4 note when my next note is on the same string but I have more trouble when I have to stop say a 1/2 note on the E string and then have to strike another note on the D string. This is harder to explain than do... :meh:

    When I was watching a good bassist this weekend he seemed to use the first three fingers on his right hand to alternately play and mute. Suggestions for exercises to learn this? Or books that cover it well etc. :help:
  2. i'm not quite sure if i got you right, but i would normally stop the E string with my left thumb and simultaneously play a note on the D string. might not be the appropriate way, but to me it works. is that what you were asking?

    edit: if you play fingerstyle, it might even better work with your right thumb resting on the E string while striking the D string (i just tried it).
  3. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Search for rest strokes, this method might be something that could help you.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Muting is not something that comes naturally, it has to be worked on until it becomes second nature. And you need to learn to do it with both hands. Best advice is to get a teacher, but I will try to put some basics into words.

    Playing primarily five and six string basses, I have even more strings to mute than you do.

    When playing on the higher strings, I use the 'floating thumb' technique. For example, if I am playing on the D string, my thumb on my right(plucking) hand is against the A string, and laying across the B and E strings. So this allows me to mute those three strings. If my thumb were planted on a thumbrest or the pickup, I would have to try to mute those strings some other way.

    When playing on the lower strings, I lay whatever finger(s) that are not being used to pluck a string across the higher strings. So, if I am playing on the E string, my pinkie is laying across the A, D, G(and sometimes C) string.

    You also need to put your left hand to work muting, too. When my index finger isn't being used, it is deadening strings that are not being played on. Same with the other 3 fingers. This takes more work than right hand muting, but once you learn it, it can really help clean up your technique.

    When I was learning to slap, I used to see people slap and wonder how they hit the right string every single time. Then one day, I watched one of my friends do it close up, and realized that he was often hitting more than one string, but only the one that he was playing on was ringing out. I looked more closely at his left hand, and the fingers that weren't fretting a note were muting the strings on either side of the one being played.

    I told him 'Man, you really have that muting down!' He was like 'What?' and I pointed it out to him.

    He said that he had been doing it so long, that it had become second nature, and he didn't even think about it, or realize he was doing it any more.

    That is the key. And the only thing that will get you to that point is practice.

    Hope this helps!:)
  5. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Only recently have I begun using a floating thumb technique.

    Previously, it had felt awkward because I was placing a lot of pressure on the "anchor-string" with my thumb.

    When I realized that a lighter touch would solve the problem - I had been plucking too hard - I was able to float my thumb effectively and comfortably.

    Actually, I've already "caught myself" using a floating thumb technique without even thinking about it - in less than two weeks!

    It appears to help not only my muting, but also in my control and sense of comfort - no more stretching to reach the highest strings (e.g., the G on my 4-string)

    The floating-thumb technique can be a big help.
  6. I was the same way learning the floating thumb.

    I have long fingers, so the first time I ever picked up a bass, I rested my wrist against the base, and finger picked from there. I did it that way for a few months until I started lessons. It felt very uncomfortable and difficult at first, but it soon became second nature.

    As far as left-handed muting, playing guitar helped me out I think. Having to leave some strings open and muting others with the fingertips adjacent to another string helped my technique on bass a bit, I believe.
  7. Wayner


    May 7, 2004
    Maryland, USA
    After reading this thread I noticed that I mute exclusively with my right hand (primarily w/the palm, thumb, ring & pinky finger). Most of the time, these fingers aren't doing a whole lot (I have a standard "walking" 2-finger fingerstyle) - thus, they mute.

    As was mentioned.. definitely if you are playing above A string, rest your rt. thumb on E. Playing above D string, your palm becomes useful.

    As with learning how to play anything.... start slowly. In this case, mute slowly. :D