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Right hand muting

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by gkella, May 18, 2017.

  1. being a banjo picker for many years, I never had to worry about muting strings.
    A banjo has virtually no sustain.
    One of my challenges as I began my bass journey has been getting a good clean sound.
    Getting better at it, but you almost need two brains when you start playing a bass guitar.
    My thumb muting on the E and A strings is getting fairly consistent.
    Getting my two fingers to alternate picking and muting has been a bit of a struggle.
    Is this common issue for beginners?
    Thanks Glen
    WHLownotes likes this.
  2. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ? Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Try palm muting. Also, it's common to put a soft foam mute under the strings down at the bridge.

    If you put a foam mute under the strings, you will just have to experiment to find out how much pressure on the strings suit your taste. You don't want to put a mute under the strings so tight of fit that it raises your notes Sharp.
  3. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ? Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    And welcome to TalkBass Glen !
  4. I remember being very conscious of it in my beginner and intermediate years.
    It's kind of an autopilot function now.
    franvarin likes this.
  5. ba55i5t


    May 24, 2006
    Another approach is to use floating thumb technique, which I would highly recommend.
  6. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    The best thing that helped me was to stop thinking about it.

    Once I did that and focused on the notes I was playing, not how I was playing them, I subconsciously adjusted my playing. This didn't happen over night but it did happen.

    No foam or other crutches required.
  7. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    You could palm mute while playing with a pick or your thumb to get the effect of a chunk of foam. Carol Kay and funk brother #1 didn't use it as a crutch by the way.

    I think the OP is referring to muting of open strings though. You can also use your pinky and ring finger of your plucking hand and your fretting hand. There was a thread about it not long ago.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  8. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    If Carol Kay and funk brother #1 are able to mute without a chunk of foam, then it isn't considered a crutch however, if they were unable to mute without it, then it is a crutch.
  9. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    True 'nuff. Best to play without foam when developing technique to force yourself to mute well.
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    It isn't about alternating. It's about follow-through.

    Assuming you're playing traditional fingerstyle, the old-school technique is to follow through with your plucking motion until it comes to rest gently against the next lower pitched string. So a split second after you pluck the A string, that finger touches and mutes the E. As you move up to the D and G strings you stick your ring finger between the E and A strings and use it to mute one or both of them. On a bass with more strings you can also put your pinky finger between other pairs of strings to mute in the same way, as well as resting your thumb on the B.

    Or use floating thumb. That works too, but doesn't let you use your thumb on the side of the pickup as an anchor/pivot point.

    And of course, with either technique you'll be muting the strings higher in pitch than the ones you're playing with any and all fingers of your left hand that you're not fretting with.
    gkella likes this.
  11. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    As a beginner from guitar to bass, it's not that difficult, and because you've played a stringed instrument you'll develop a system over a short time. Once your 2 picking fingers get comfortable, you can use the other fingers and thumb on both hands to help clean up the sound. Also, releasing the note with good timing also takes practice, and will be developed once your timing and groove is solid.
  12. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I've played bass for a bit, and I never think about muting.
    This thread made me wonder why i don't consciously exert effort to mute strings.

    Then I realized: I am always muting , unless required otherwise.
    My right hand and left hand are resting on the strings by default,
    preventing vibration at all times unless I want the string to move.
    the act of plucking includes 'making room' for the string.
    when the intended duration ends, my fingers come back down to stop
    I think the habit was a by product of practicing control of note duration.

    I don't consciously mute, I consciously unmute.

    Maybe it's just a different way of saying the same thing. YMMV
    lz4005, Reedt2000 and 4dog like this.
  13. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Same here...dont think about it..it will happen.
  14. cool breeze

    cool breeze

    May 13, 2016
    Try this as it works for me. Since you already use your thumb to mute e and possible a whenever you fret the d or g string rest the tip of your finger against the string above it. It'll become habitual after a while and helps. I could never palm mute.
  15. It seems to be an issue I see with a lot of beginners. I have a good friend who just switched to bass from guitar and he is really working to have a clean right hand technique. It's been so long since I started I don't remember what helped me get over it.

    Floating thumb will help you immensely. Also remember your left hand is very important for muting as well.
  16. Muting is real tough, don't forget your fretting hand should help with muting as well.

    Floating thumb really did solve a lot of muting issues for me, and frankly, just not using open strings if muting them was too much of a pain. Play the line with fretted notes. If it's real fast and you have to use some open strings, then you need not worry as much about muting because the line is so fast.

    But it's definitely worth working on at the beginning because is does become much more second nature later on. Still some thorny muting problems still crop up. For slapping riffs it is definitely acceptable to use a fret wrap or hair scrunchie like Victor Wooten does.
    franvarin likes this.
  17. Thank you.It is a great forum.
    lowplaces likes this.
  18. I really appreciate all the responses and advice.
    I am confident I am headed in the right direction.
    Definitely trying to walk before I run.
    At first, I just ride to play the song o scale I was working on.
    Now I have slowed it down and listening to every note.
    Regardless...I am loving the journey.
    I wish
    I had picked up the bass 30 years ago!!!
    lowplaces and HolmeBass like this.
  19. franvarin


    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    Hey Glenn...
    I know a lot has been said and is spot on. After a while you'll settle on a technique that works for you and it will become second nature. My advice is not to overthink it. The notes which are most problematic are open strings. Percussive playing and muting a note is really in both your hands.

    I like to anchor my plucking hand and use my left hand and the fingers on my right hand to accomplish muting. If you use a pick palm muting on the bridge works well too depending on the style of music you're playing.

    Some guys are comfortable using a floating thumb technique.. As I said don't be afraid to explore what works best for you.
    gkella likes this.
  20. Like lz said, you follow through until you contact the string above it which of course mutes that string. You'll develop the techniques in time if you put the hours in. Basically any string that is not muted when it is not being played will sympathetically ring out and muddy your sound. Eventually you'll have your fretting fingers sort of draped across the strings in a relaxed manner which helps to mute the strings below the one your playing. You can invent fingering exercises with each note on a different string or do something like octaves.
    I prefer to anchor on the top string and use the pinky to mute the A string when playing on the G.