Muting Strings?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Shisume, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. Shisume


    Sep 30, 2017
    I have been playing roughly 4 days now and i noticed that i have problems with muting the strings that i dont use. It doesnt sound clean because i touch them with my left hand while switching strings.
    For example: While playing on the A string i often touch the D/G string and cause them to make a sound which doesnt sound clean.
    Thank You o/
  2. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    I've been using these for years. Music store cable wraps, and a bit of foam.
    They damp just enough to keep unused strings from ringing, but open strings work fine. One bass in the pic has a scarf tied around it- that works too.
    I don't like damping the bridge end, cause that's way too noticeable, sounds like Jamerson.
    There are lots of ways to damp strings, watch some Youtube videos, most players do it with their fingers. See what works for you.
    gebass6 and Shisume like this.
  3. Shisume


    Sep 30, 2017
    Will check that out on monday ! Ty
  4. Our beast does need to be muted. As mentioned there are all kinds of ways to do it. I play flatwound strings, this helps and then I also put some foam rubber under the strings at the bridge. This gets about as close as you can get to an upright bass sound if you are using an electric bass. I like that sound so I keep my flats and foam. Flats and foam also help with string buzz, etc. Since I like the sound it kinda kills two birds with one stone.

    I use the foam rubber from a foam rubber paint brush. Cut to fit your string width and scored with a razor so the strings fit down in the foam. To see if this can help get a sock and put it under the strings at the bridge, if it does give some thought to foam rubber... Back in the dark ages when electric bass first came on the market foam rubber was standard equipment. They hid it under a chrome cover.

    I play with my thumb instead of a pick or fingers so palm mute is also something I can use when needed. Do a google on palm mute. If you use your fingers to sound the strings the floating thumb method is another way of muting. Some use their left fretting hand to deaden the unwanted strings.

    I fret with the pad of my finger not the tip. In doing that the rest of the fretting finger kinda lays on the unused string - thus muting them. This also gets your wrist into a natural position and helps with pain issues.

    You will need to mute and how you do that depends on how you go about playing your bass. Four days in I'm betting you have not picked a way to play your bass. How you decide to play, thumb, pick, fingers, etc. will dictate how you mute. Experiment.

    Hitting strings you do not mean to hit. Just part of being new to your bass. Are you running your scales. Scales get our fingers doing what we want them to do and gets our ear recognizing the good and bad notes. Take heart a good note is just one fret from a bad note. Course the trick is to just hit the good notes. :)

    BTW welcome to our World.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    Shisume likes this.
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    You'll need to work on technique for BOTH hands. Here are two Youtube clips.

    The first one will help you with your fretting hand technique, which in turn will result in a cleaner sound.

    The second clip features the "floating thumb" technique and this helps to mute unwanted sounds from unplayed strings.

    gebass6 and Inara like this.
  6. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Yes, I'd suggest you work on technique with both hands, particularly your fretting hand. After a while it becomes completely sub-conscious, and you can easily choose the note length you want and control it with your fretting technique. Hair thingys (scrunchies?) are especially good for extended range basses when strings ring sympathetically away from where you're playing. Foam at the bridge is good for obtaining an overall thump. I've found though that I can achieve that "thump" without foam just through technique. Think a lot about note length.

    That's probably way too much to absorb for somebody just a few days in, but don't let any of the learning curve discourage you and by all means have fun with it :). Like, learn to play along with a few of your favorite songs, just for fun! The technical stuff will come over time if you stay with it and keep asking questions, and fun helps you stay with it.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  7. DrayMiles


    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Work on the technique and it will be more advantageous. IMO...
  8. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    I agree with the posts about working on your muting technique with both hands, rather than going straight to a mechanical aid such as fret wraps. To me, string muting is one of the fundamentals of solid technique. If you start out by using a crutch, you'll never learn it.
  9. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    NOT THIS!!! (You know this isn't the first step to playing bass correctly)

    @Shisume You need to learn to mute with your fretting hand. Use the videos above as guidance, or Youtube "Bass string muting". You should NOT use a string mute right now. You need to learn how to properly play the bass.

    Also, please think about getting a private instructor. One that you can sit in a room with and can teach you.
    Mushroo likes this.
  10. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    Addendum to myself. You should also mute with your plucking hand.
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  11. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    It definitely requires both hands. My problem is being able to articulate for students things my fingers have been doing so long that there's no conscious thought involved. I suppose the good news for beginners is, if you focus long enough on an aspect of technique it will become second nature.
  12. Everyone has this issue when they start out, but you will get it sorted. As most have said, I recommend using your fingers, rather than some device. Work on using both hands to mute. Check some videos on how to do it and simply focus on the problem as you play. Eventually you will figure it out quite naturally.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
    Dp1363, lz4005, TomB and 1 other person like this.
  13. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    Use what you can use.
    Use a string mute.
    Use the floating thumb.
    Use your left hand fingers.
    All at once if necessary.
  14. It’s a technique thing. Coming from guitar where I seldom muted, it was awkward to learn, but it comes quickly with practice.

    Learn to mute with both the fretting and plucking hands. I mute the strings that are higher in pitch than the one I am playing with my fretting hand, and mute the strings that are lower than the one I’m playing with my plucking hand (side of my thumb actually).

    I also use a plucking technique in which I move my thumb up and down the strings depending on which string I’m playing. The one on which my thumb rests is always muted.

    If you pluck your strings alternately with your index and middle fingers in a left-right-left-right motion, one finger is always ready to pluck the string, and one finger is always ready to mute it when it’s time for the note to end.