Steve - string muting?

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by kimstevens, Mar 13, 2003.

  1. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    Hi Steve,

    Back in January I asked Michael about his string muting technique when playing 6 string bass, and I have been working on my muting using the principles he wrote about. I've found that playing a 6 is difficult if unwanted ringing is to be avoided, but I am also very excited by the challenge. Thinking a lot about muting seems to give direction and discipline to right-hand technique. I have no idea yet what it will be like when I try to play freely (i.e., in performance) in this way.
    So, Michael said that he uses his thumb for muting on the bottom 2 strings, then index on the A, middle on D, ring on G, and pinky on C. I've been using that idea, but when I play the lower strings, I let my left hand mute the higher strings (I don't keep my pinky on C when playing low strings with my index and middle fingers). Do you use a technique similar to this? Is muting a major concern for you?


  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Kim,

    sorry for taking so long to reply to this - my muting technique is not dissimilar to Michael's, if I remember rightly - I tend to trail my thumb across after my picking fingers, with my thumb sort of pulled back across all the lower strings to mute them as I'm playing (bear in mind, this is only for 'normal' fingerstyle playing, and I do use my thumb to pick about 60% of everything I play, and then the relationship between the left and right hand for muting is a little more complex)

    The other advantage of this kind of 'floating thumb' approach is that the angle and position of my fingers in relation to the string that I'm playing is always the same, which makes playing easier...

    Muting is vital on all basses, but is much more of an issue when you get far too many strings like we have... :)


  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    ..update.. update..

    I was REALLY struggling with this technique (Steve showed me my past lesson), in that I was trying to use it, but finding it physically difficult to play without anchoring my thumb... then the other day it just clicked and I found myself using it without thinking about it :)
    Still needs oodles of practice, but I made a significant jump in a single bound... so to speak?

    And it really does work too...