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Proper Picking and Issues Muting Strings

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by TheBigPoppa, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. TheBigPoppa


    Aug 18, 2018
    Recently, my school started a Jazz Band. Wanting to learn a new instrument I stepped up to play bass guitar. After a few days of practice, my band director told me I needed to learn plucking to play properly. So of course I started practicing, but I have been having a few issues. Firstly, I have issues muting the strings that I have played when I am descending down in note value or vertically up in string. I can't quite catch them and mute them. Also, I have issues stretching my pinky for some scales. Does anyone here have any advice or exercises I could use to improve my technique? Any assistance is appreciated.
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Lift your finger off the note you just played.
  3. vindibona1


    Apr 18, 2015
    Big Poppa... I can appreciate your plight. But I'm going to give you the hard truth. There is no substitute for face to face private lessons, particularly at the beginning. Bad habits are easy to form and tough to break. The bad habits you learn today will hamper you tomorrow. While there are some exceptions and musical geniuses out there, most of us (me included, even though I've played trumpet semi-professionally for decades and guitar all my life) need help to develop proper technique so we can be as musical as possible.

    I think the best way to learn a musical instrument is to learn to copy nuances of sound. First you need an example (the teacher) who can play with nuance. And then you need that set of ears to tell you when you're getting the right sound, when you're not and how to play to get that sound when you can't figure it out on your own. If you're already playing a musical instrument (which sounds like you are) the transition can be very rapid once you learn the tricks of the trade. Of course with online stuff you can learn them on your own, but it's been my observation that it takes a heck of a lot longer.

    Good luck.
    Lobster11 likes this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Generally speaking your right hand mutes the thicker strings than the one you're playing and the left hand mutes the thinner ones.

    With your left hand play with the pads of your fingers, not the tips. All the fingers you're not holding a note with are for muting.

    With your right, the follow-through of your plucking motion mutes the next heavier string than the one you're playing. You can jam your ring and/or pinky fingers between the strings for muting if you anchor your thumb on the pickup. Or use your thumb for muting if you don't anchor.

    Or think of it this way: Most notes you play only need one finger from each hand to sound. Use the other 8 for muting.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
    gebass6 likes this.
  5. Ah yes muting and that little finger. We all went through it.....

    ....Many ways to mute. Kinda depends on how you sound the strings. If you use fingers to pluck the strings then floating thumb seems to get most of it done. If you use a pick or your thumb to sound the strings then palm mute seems to get most of it. Yes the left hand does come into the picture.

    I like the sound of flatwound strings and some foam rubber under the strings at the bridge. Gets close to an upright sound, which I like, and does help with muting unwanted string buzz...

    Now to the little finger - slide if you must. Our hands are all different, I started out using the one finger per fret pattern, however, this has evolved over the years where the fingers now decide which one gets what note. I do suggest you try the OFPF to start, but, don't beat your self up if this is hard to do or causes pain. There is no pain in bass.

    Happy trails.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    taking lessons is a great way to get started: take a few, or take many = but you need to really get started! after you get started: there is no substitute for practice. a lot. if you want to be a really good player = you might end up practicing more than you do anything else.

    practice. and then practice some more. it's just how it's done...there is no easy way. good luck! :thumbsup:
    vindibona1 likes this.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    There is no point in practicing until you learn the right techniques to practice -- otherwise you will just be practicing bad technique. As they say, practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.
    gebass6, Malcolm35, JRA and 1 other person like this.
  8. vindibona1


    Apr 18, 2015
    I agree totally and stated better than the way I said it before. Practicing bad technique is the same thing as practicing mistakes. They get ingrained in your natural playing DNA and are miserable to overcome. Trust me. I've been there.
    Lobster11 likes this.

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