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Muting with fretting hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CaptainTuna, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Hey guys,

    I'm having some problems muting with my left (fretting hand), sound problems. Very simple to explain: say I'm playing an A on my E string (5th fret) and I want to mute it with my left hand. What I do is I lift my finger a bit so that it still touches the E string but it doesn't push the string against the fret (I guess this is more or less the standard muting method).

    Now, I don't know if this depends on the fact that I'm using guitar rig (I use for practicing when I don't have my amp with me) and my laptop's soundboard (crappy stuff) but I get an annoying sound when I lift my string, as if I was playing the harmonic on the 5th fret (I actually am, in fact). That sounds pretty obvious, I know...but I do not notice all these annoying sounds when I watch professionals play, so if possibile I'd like to get rid of it.

    Any advice? Does it depend on my "rig" or am I doing something wrong?
  2. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    You are gettin the harmonic from that string when you lift your finger. It would be the same if you were playing at the 12th frets (there are other problem spots on all necks, as well).

    You need to mute with your right hand to stop the string from vibrating.
  3. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    But is it a huge problem on your rigs? I mean...do you hear it very slightly or does it actually makes things a little more messy?
  4. ChasBass


    Dec 15, 2007
    Charleston, SC
    Try tapping the string with your pinky and/or ring finger. It seems to be automatic for me now, but it took lots of practice. I do practically all muting with the fretting hand.
  5. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    It's not a "rig" issue, its a technique issue. If you don't want to hear the harmonic you need to silence the string. Either using your right hand with a floating thumb or similar technique or use your fretting hand ring/pinky finger to stop the string from vibrating. If you are a pick player you can use the meat of your right hand below the pinky finger to mute the strings. (Also works for slapping.)

    Slow the piece you are working on down and practice silencing those strings using one or a combination of the techniques described above.

    It is one of the hardest things to do in the begining, but you will do it without thinking about it after a while. You don't drive a car using only the gas pedal. You need to use the break too. It's the same thing when you are playing music. You need to learn to stop the notes as well as start them. It all comes down to practicing.

    Good luck.
  6. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    I get it. My teacher suggested me to position my finger a little more distant from the fret in order to avoid it. I don't fully trust him though. What do you think about it?
    Here's what I mean:


    according to him, approach number 2 would solve it correctly. While it does indeed take away most of the annoying echo-like sound, I'm not sure it's a reliable technique.
  7. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
  8. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Thank you for your answer. BTW I'm already using the floating thumb technique but there are still times when I have to mute with my fretting hand of course. I'll practice using my pink/ring finger for that!

  9. Hi CaptainTuna, just to agree it's about muting, I find with notes on the 5th 7th and 12th frets where the strong harmonics are I try and mute those with my left and right hands if possibile, I do rest my thumb, play 2 fingers and use 3rd finger for muting, also you can mute with your playing fingers, if you have plucked the string with your index finger then follow with your middle finger and stop on the string, if you need to play the same note again then continue with the middle finger thats already there, at the same time when you stop the string with your playing hand, rest the 3rd and 4th fingers of your fretting hand across the string to mute it, it's quite hard to stop those harmonics instantly, the more contact you can make with the string the better. I don't know the type line you are playing so I'm giving techniques I use, but sometimes they not all practical.
    I can't agree with your teacher on this one, reason being is that you will be trying to adjust on the 5th 7th and 12th fret, and the harmonic on the 12th is quite wide with smaller fret spacing. If you ever want to try a fretless bass then that technique certainly won't work if you going to play in tune.
    Good luck I hope something here helps you.
  10. kr0n


    Feb 4, 2009
    When you lift the finger to release the pressure, lower your other fingers to the string to prevent the harmonic.

    Try this, 1 finger per fret and press down each finger without the rest moving at all. They should be stationary just above where the string was before you fretted. Now when you "de-fret", rest of the hand should be touching the strings as well.
  11. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    You can mute with your fretting hand but it's not always as strait forward as with the plucking hand. If you're at a harmonic, you can use more than one finger, or you can put more finger meat on the string. Play with it; being able to mute with either hand is important.
  12. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis

  13. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Clever idea, but not good technique. Much more effort to press down the strings. Better to just stop the string.
  14. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    It's me again....new techniques = new problems :D

    Just started using the pick on some rare occasions a few months ago and now I'm thinking of learning to use it a little better. I've got a few "problems", or well, more like questions. How would you play something like this?

    G |-------------------------------------
    D |----5----7---------5----7------------
    A |--------------8--------------8-------
    E |-------------------------------------

    It's very easy, don't get me wrong. But I still got some muting problem with the A string in the above case. I'm using the inner side of my palm on my right hand to mute some strings but I can't seem to mute the string exactly above the one I'm playing ( eg: playing on G, I can't mute the D with my palm; playing on D, I can't mute A with palm).

    First of all: is that normal or do you guys think I have to work on that?
    Secondly: I sometimes manage to mute the A string with the very tip of my index when it is fretting a g note on the D string. I don't know..maybe that's totally incorrect, because I wouldn't normally place the index so close to the A string, it would be a little more centered. (EDIT: forgot to say I got a five string, so string spacing helps a lot. I'm a little scared this could fail badly on a 4 string, but I haven't got one around to test)
    Thirdly: How do you do it? Got any tips to spare?
  15. bloobass


    Jul 10, 2012
    Louisville, KY
    Personally for you're previous issue, my fretting finger sits just far enough away from the fret to not get the harmonic, but depending on what style I'm trying to emulate or the pattern I'm playing, I sometimes use the other fingers on my left hand to mute (fret with my index, mute with middle, ring, or pinky).
    I hardly ever use a pick, so I wouldn't be much help on the last problem. A lot of good information is coming your way from everybody, so just stay tuned.

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