New Bassist here: Muting question

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by carbonseven, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. carbonseven


    Apr 7, 2004
    I started playing the bass like 3 months ago, and i'm still trying to figure out the best way to mute the strings. When I strike the notes g string, there's alot of vibration on the lower strings.

    How do you guys mute the strings? I especially have trouble muting the E string when I play in the G string. I get alot of humming from the E string when I play on the higher registers. Do you guys rest your right thumb on the E string, or do you guys have other means of muting?
  2. bassnewb


    Apr 15, 2003
    I'm a newb too, but I do it by using the floating thumb technique. I rest my thumb on the string above the string I'm playing, and lean the upper parts of my thumb across all the lower note strings.
  3. Try plucking one note in quarter notes. If your're still getting a lot of ringing, it may have to do with your rest stroke technique. When one finger plucks the string, it should fall back on the string beloq it, and the other finger should simultaneously move up to the string that was just plucked, thus stopping the vibration of the string. If your hand is in the right position, this should take care of the ringing in all four strings. The floating thumb technique certaintly helps. Personally, I'll rest my thumb on the pickup, on nothing, on the E string, or the a string, but I almost never rest it on the D string.
  4. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    Try getting a piece of foam rubber and laying it under the strings just in front of the bridge. Just touching so it kills the other strings. Not too much and you will get the best sound you ever had.

  5. panazza


    Nov 23, 2003
    use your ring and pinky. when you play on D and G strings, those two fingers mute A and E by resting on them
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Baaad idea.

    Learning how to mute the strings is part of the process of learning to play the bass. Relying on anything other than your hands will be a crutch that will hinder your development in the long run.

    I split muting duties between my right and left hands. When my left hand is pressing a note, it's also lightly touching the other strings. I also pivot my right hand on my B string or E string and mute the lower strings that way.

    Foam muting is fine if you want to simulate Motown stlye, etc. playing, but it's no substitute for undeveloped technique.
  7. Could u elaborate more on Motown style? I am learning two of their licks from the Bass for Dummies book. Found that muting is very necessary for the two licks.
  8. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    I believe the motown style to be two bassist. Jamerson and Kaye. Both have different techniques. Kaye used a pick and a felt mute with flatwound strings and a pick.

    Jamerson used flats and was the real motown sound. I am not sure he muted with anything but you can get there with foam under the bridge slightly touching the strings and concentrate then on accurate soft fingers with the right hand.

    As with anything there is always more than one way to achieve the desired results. I think the foam muting under the strings shows all of us what proper muting sounds like.

    I mute with my fingers also but hardly ever see the easy way explained to the new player. Muting by hand will come naturally as you practice. Sound in my opinion is what music is all about and a piece of foam rubber under the strings against the bridge will show you plenty.

    As for the real Motown style is is a groove you get into. Muting alone won't get you there.

    The foam mute will actually give you clean sound and sound like you cranked the amp up when done right. Why the redress and baaaddd idea statement I don't know. It works. Sounds good in more than Motown and that is my opinion. Finger muting works well too.

    Getting a sound is practice for both hands and ears.

  9. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've kinda skimmed this thread, but has "floating thumb" come up yet?

    foam rubber, yikes....
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    James Jamerson, the Motown in house bassist, played with very high action (string height) and never changed his strings, so he'd get a very rounded sound with not much sustain. Also, Fender basses in that period came with foam mutes installed at the factory, something he probably used as well.

    Instead of Bass For Dumies, I'd get Standing in the Shadows of Motown for killer Motown licks.
  11. Foam rubber will get you a different tone, but as Blackbird said, it is no substitute to proper muting technique.

    Floating thumb is the way to go, and you'll find it easier to switch from a 4-string to a 5 or more.
  12. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I use the floating thumb technique. When i play on the G string my thumb is on the A, but touching the E also so it doesnt vibrate. When playing D, thumb rests on E. When play E... if its just a note or two i suspend it in air but if its an entire riff i rest it on a pickup.
  13. Just realized that this might be considered thread-hijack, sorry to original poster!

    Did a search on Amazon, digged up 3 "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", DVD, Audio CD, and Book, I assume you are talking about the book version? It doesn't come with a CD does it?
  14. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Of course not!

    It comes with two CDs!:D

    Do a search on the book. It's been done to death.
  15. Thanks, sometimes I just do not know what to start searching on, the book _is_ done to death in TB. Thanks for bringing it up. I have checked with my local bookstores, cost like RM140.80, considered a bit expensive by our standards though... was actually thinking of getting one of the Jaco books after by Bass for Dummies, but was thinking that I might not be able to play Jaco stuffs for at least 1-2 more years! As from what I have read from other threads, the Motown book seems to have songs from Beginner level to Advanced!