Playing with a pick: muting drone open string notes

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Oleg BassPlayer, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. Oleg BassPlayer

    Oleg BassPlayer

    Feb 4, 2016
    I must have bored everybody here with silly questions, but I just need opinion of experienced players.

    Let's assume we have such a piece which is played with a pick:

    A|-- --------7-----------6----------5------4--------
    (definitely not the best riff ever, just for example)

    With fingers, it's all clear, notes on the E string get muted whenever we hit the A string. With a pic, it's more difficult.

    So far I've tried:
    1. Wrapping fretting hand thumb around the neck.
    2. Touching E string with index finger while playing on A string
    3. Palm muting, that is touching the E string with the fleshy part of picking hand when picking on A string.

    1st and 2nd work, but make my hand restricted, especially 1st method. 3rd seems to have some potential, but I haven't developed it yet, and I have to mute at some distance from the bridge or else I get muted noise instead of silence.

    How would you approach that?
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Whichever way worked best... for me :).

    I had a bass right next to me and checked what came naturally. It was your 3rd choice, a palm mute, but with the side of my hand, not my actually palm.
    Oleg BassPlayer and Old Blastard like this.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    What do you mean, restricted.

    I play narrow necks so I can wrap my thumb around the neck, just for stuff like this. I can also do the index muting or palm muting.

    Whatever works, like @Joe Nerve says.
    Old Blastard likes this.
  4. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Oh. My. God.
    Isn't that, like, blasphemy, or something?:D

    Like Joe, I just picked up a bass and tried it...side of my hand mute here too. with a pick.
    Also, I noticed my first instinct was to use my thumb to play, not my fingers.
    I've no idea why...
    Old Blastard likes this.
  5. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Learn to use all three methods. Each will work for a different situation.

    I most often palm (side of hand) mute and finger mute, and hardly ever thumb mute. With that line, I would palm mute.
  6. Killing Joke

    Killing Joke

    Nov 29, 2016
    I am a guitar player convert. The palm mute is natural to me. All three work fine though just depends on what is comfy for you.
  7. I'd mute with fretting hand on a 5 string bass. Practise fretting with each finger (separately) and muting with some or all of the other 3 fingers by gently resting them on top.

    I found fretting with index finger & resting the other 3 fingers on top of the E muted it faster/ more cleanly.
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
  9. gebass6

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

    I'm slowly getting into a method for muting unplayed strings while picking.While NOT muting played strings.(NOT PALM MUTING)
    I'm not trying to a get a muted thump on played notes!

    Playing a D major scale starting on the B string.
    After playing D and E,the edge of the right hand moves up and mutes the B string. 20180403_135849_LI (2).jpg
    Then on the E string,I play the F,G and A.
    Then the right hand mutes the B and E string.
    Then on the A string,I play B,C# and D while muting the B and E string. 20180403_135849_LI.jpg
    And so on. 20180403_135953_LI.jpg
    All the way up to the C string.
    Then the whole thing is done in reverse down.
    Just takes practice.

    The key is the edge of the right hand being on the unplayed strings and not the played strings.

    If you mute the played strings,you will be palm muting.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  10. Pug the Pig

    Pug the Pig Inactive

    Mar 21, 2018
    Do it like Lemmy and let the bas'tards ring..!
    Or kill the E strung with the tip of the fretting finger, like you were playing some half diminished jazz chord lark on the git fiddle....
  11. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    I use the fretting and non-fretting left hand fingers and side-finger tips to mute (right hand for left handers).

    I play some guitar so after while it's automatic on bass or guitar. So is switching between right hand palm muting and left hand/left hand finger tip muting.

    I also sometimes use the Rocco Prestia(Tower of Power) left hand muting technique.

    I don't really use non-pick-holding fingers for muting.
  12. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Either Option 2 or Option 3, or a combination of both, depending what is easier for the part. I also often cut off a note with the plucking hand itself sometimes when timing between notes allows (i.e. touching the string with the pick or the same finger that just played the note before moving on to the next note).

    This is also a good reason to get comfortable with starting bass parts with a finger other than the index finger, freeing up a finger or two that are "lower" than the note you are fretting to mute the other strings.
    gebass6 likes this.
  13. Resonance129


    Feb 15, 2011
    I've been "teaching myself" to play with a pick for a few months now, and of the 3 techniques mentioned, I'd think palm muting would be most efficient and logical.

    BUT, since I'm not the greatest at controlling the pick while palm muting yet, if I were actually playing the described line, I'd probably do something similar to #2, but with more fingers involved. Basically, instead of just using the index finger to mute the E string, I'd have the index finger actually playing note on the A string, while the pads of my middle, ring, and pinky contacted the E string to mute. Probably not the "correct" way to do it, but I notice myself doing something like that in similar situations.
  14. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    I mostly use my version of the Rocco left hand method. I haven’t been inspired to learn proper palm muting and cover that sound by playing right on the fret to the point muting starts to happen. Like Joe though I do use the side of my right hand. I also use the side of my right thumb sometimes on a down stroke to catch the string after picking it. All this is a 30 year accumulation of what works for me.