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Secrets of Muting

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by aasti3000, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    Does anyone have their own personal technique of muting strings when playing? I'm trying, trying, practicing, practicing, practicing and darnit....my muting skills still suck. Forever keep hearing the note that I just played still resonating while playing the current note...even thought my finger isn't on that string or fret anymore. Any one have their own personal secret of muting that is different from the general public of bass players? (I'm killing myself just to sound 5% clean than 100% clean and I'm still unsuccessful.)

    signed - Frustrated!
  2. Using rest stroke clears that problem for me most of the time. I also do percussive taps on the strings with my left hand sometimes. If I need to mute a low note, I'll rest my thumb on that string since my hand generally needs to move up at that point. High strings can be muted with the pinky or palm of the left hand. Anything that can't be fixed by the above for whatever technical reason may require a unique strategy
  3. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    Really depends on what I'm playing. Sometimes I use my left (fretting hand) sometimes I use my right. I sometimes turn my right hand slightly inward and mute with the side of my palm. This still allows me to pluck strings with my fingers. Like I said, it depends on what I am playing. Other times I mute with the fingers on my left hand. It takes practice but can make a big difference in your sound.
  4. Muting is one thing that seemed to come naturally to me. I can't say there's any secrets to it, but for me, it's a combination of right and left hand. I do have a rough time with palm muting (unless I'm playing with a pick) though.

    I notice that my left hand fingers will "bounce" off the string a bit to damp notes, but I also lay other fingers across the string or mute with spare fingers or palm on the right hand. Sometimes fingering the note directly on top of the fret will dampen the sound a bit too, but this only works in slower passages. I play 90% fingerstyle (only a pick when I absolutely must) and use a floating/movable thumb technique most of the time (only anchor when I'm doing a lot of string crossings), so my thumb comes in handy as a mute as well. Basically, I just do "whatever works" in any given situation.

    Regarding "bouncing" my fingers on the strings: it's not so much a bounce as I just let up the pressure on my fingers and let the string bounce up away from the fret just a hair - enough to stop the note. I don't actually lift the finger.

    Maybe try practicing a staccato series of quarter notes, then eighths, then sixteenths, etc... at various tempos until you can get a clean staccato sound with the finger "bounce" technique.

    Hope this helps, but my inability to really explain well how I do it means I need to think about it more and analyze it. Unfortunately, I'm at work and my bass is at home, so you'll have to wait :)
  5. I don't know, to be honest. It just seems to sort of happen with me, it's nothing I think about when I'm playing, it's nothing I've ever had to actively work on.
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Try practicing with all your notes muted, then play add a note every now and then. Then just increase the amount of notes you add till it is 50/50, the start working on playing more notes but still muting the strings.

    This is just a sort of reverse engendering, rather than learning to mute, you are already muted, so you are learning to produce notes within a series of muted notes......what is essentially you are try to learn.:)
  7. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    Great advice so far everyone....I never used my right palm or pinky to mute...just resting that thumb on the string. So far....MAJOR DIFFERENCE!!! MUCH CLEANER...BUT NOT LIKE YOU GUYS! LOL....thanks for all the tips. If you have anymore please list them. (...use my right hand....duh? Why didn't I think of that?)
  8. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    I am still working on this too. i find I am better at it when I am relaxed and when My fingers and hands are where they should be in the first place. (right H thumb on the highest string I am not using, and L hand fingers aligned one to a fret).
  9. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Sometimes I do a thing with my right hand, and sometimes I do a thing with my left hand. I don't really know if I know what I'm doing when I do it.

    The only really intentional thing I do is putting my thumb on the string near the bridge and kind of rolling onto the string to mute a note at a precise time without choking it all at once.