Sympathetic noise

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by tkeneipp, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. tkeneipp


    Feb 1, 2006
    I am a fairly new bass palyer and just learning to play on a electric. I have been playing an upright for just over a year(mostly bluegrass and oldtimey stuff) and am now working on learning to play an Ibanez acustic bass that I run through a 35w Ibanez bass amp. Here is my problem...

    I am having a real hard time with symathetic vibrations building up in the E & A strings. If I am working on something deep and blues or walking lines starting on the E string by the time I finish the chop it's a mess of noise and feedback like builtup. I really like the tone I am gettting before this, so hope not to have to change my setup. I sometimes wrap my thumb around the neck to dampen the E string, but find ths very flustrationg. At tiem like this I amtempted to dump the electric beast and go back to my upright where this was never a problem! Help!
  2. That's just something you've got to learn to deal with. Muting is a big thing on the BG.
  3. tkeneipp


    Feb 1, 2006
    Okay, I can accept that I will have to learn to mute much more on the electric bass than the upright. Since I am just beginning, do have any pointers on mutting techniques? I have heard a little talk about left and right hand mutting, but don't have much information. I am self taught by the way.
  4. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I mute E and A with my right hand. When i'm playing My A string my thumb is on the E string and when i'm Playing the D string my thumb is on the A string and also resting on the E string.
  5. I would also reccomend playing with a lighter touch, it'll stop the other strings from being so sympathetic :)
  6. Groundloop


    Jun 21, 2005
    I've never really thought about it before, but now that I have, it looks like I (also self taught BTW) tend to use the fleshy part of my left (fretting) hand, to mute the higher strings as I play the B-E-A strings, and the thumb of my right (plucking) hand as I move across the neck to play the A-D-G strings. Since you only seem to be having problems w/ the E and A strings, I'm guessing that you're anchoring your right hand thumb at the end of the fingerboard, leaving the E and A "flapping in the breeze" so to speak. The most common solution I've seen (and what I do) is resting your plucking hand thumb on the string above the one you're plucking. I'd also recommend you don't wrap your fretting hand thumb around the neck to mute the E string. In the long run that may cause more problems than it solve, although there are some players who do that and have been very successful with it.

    Another part of the problem is that acoustic instruments are more resonant than a solid body, and using an amp is compounding the problem, especially if the amp is pointed right at you. Try turning the amp down/off and see if the problem is reduced.

    My 2 cents.
  7. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee


    It will also make you tone more consistent and keep you hands WAYYY more relaxed.
  8. joeyzaza


    Dec 16, 2005
    I know about muting the extra noise, I don't get any. Cause I'm a guitarist that picks with distortion, I learned to keep the big fat part at the bottom of my thumb on the right hand, on the low strings when I'm not playing them, anyway, it's cool, and I don't get noise but the notes I'm playing. So, when I went to play bass, and I learned slap bass, I had a 5 string, and I kind of did the same, I slap down, as opposed to the other way, and my right hand is lying on the B and E when I am not using them, and I don't get noise, my teach does it the opposite way, so as he slaps the bass on the A string, the E is wide open for sympathetic ressonance, but he uses his left hand to control this most of the time it seems, this is something I cannot do very well, so I don't.

    He showed me how to play with fingers using my thumb as the mute all the time, it's hard to explain without a picture, but if you put your left arm out, and make an L shape at the elbow, then let your left hand drop completely relaxed, like a doggy paw or something that is typical of a gay man, if you understand, now, as your hand is like this, lower it into the D string, and stop your thumb on top of the d string, if you kept your hand position, the back of your thumb, the curvature, should be blocking the e and a right away, so when you move up a to play on the d, the thumb should be resting on the A, and the same for everything else, you get it? I do it this way, the way my teach showed me, and it works perfect for muting, you just can't get any extra noise if you do this, but some may not agree that it is a worthwhile technique because it requires more effort, if you watch jaco for instance, he seems to rest his thumb on the E and never move it unless he is playing the E, so if you do it like that, you have to worry about the A and D if you are playing on the G, I can't do it this way.
  9. I like to extend the index finger on my fretting hand when I'm not using it to mute unplayed strings.
  10. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    like a "gay man" LOL..

    Way too much story,,,, just click my link above! Adam Nitti is an excellent teacher.

    BTW resting with help from the left (fretting) hand on the E and A strings doesn't allow for much comfortable muting when you are in the groove or playing complex passages.
  11. joeyzaza


    Dec 16, 2005
    If you mean what I think you mean, then yeah, I can't play any other way, well, I can, but it sucks. I watch jaco, and wonder how he plays the way he does, I just get noise if I do it like that.