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Unwanted harmonics continue after releasing a note, help!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jansen2k17, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. jansen2k17


    Jan 16, 2017
    Hey guys I'm a newer bass player (about 8 months) and am starting to discover some serious problems in my muting technique. I have no problem stopping notes themselves as soon as they are done, but there is almost always a annoying harmonic ringing out after it (it is worse on certain frets). It even happens when I properly release the note or use both hands to try and mute it. I have noticed that the harmonics occur much less often on other basses than mine so could it be a setup issue? If anyone knows what this is or how to fix it please let me know!!!
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    It's all about the finger position you use for muting (left hand) - if you're near one of the harmonic points, your going to have overtones still ringing. Figure out where the harmonics are and then use dead spots for muting. After a while it gets more automatic (though I still occasionally do that even after 45+ years of playing - I try to chalk it up to "I meant to do that, really", usually). :D
    Ant Illington and buldog5151bass like this.
  3. jansen2k17


    Jan 16, 2017
    My bass is a Fender MIM jazz bass and the amp is a Peavy MAX 158 practice amp
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Make sure you are muting ALL the strings, not just the string you are playing. For example if you play E at the 7th fret of the A string, it will cause a ringing E harmonic on the E string, unless you mute that adjacent string too. ;)
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
    Atshen likes this.
  5. Mechayoshi


    Dec 7, 2015
    ^ Yeah for example are you only anchored to the pickup the whole time? Do you only use one figure to mute a string or more?
    Atshen likes this.
  6. jansen2k17


    Jan 16, 2017
    My thumb rests on the E string and sometimes I will move it up to the A string. Other than that my only method of muting is keeping my left hand fingers flat although sometimes I'll use the plucking fingers of my right hand for stacatto. Should I change any of that?
  7. Our beast does growl. We have to mute it some way. Which way is kinda left up to you. Google will call up all kinds of information on muting for you.

    I use flat wound strings and foam rubber under the strings at the bridge. Doing that gives me a sound I like and also doing that, just by itself, takes care of most of my muting. I use my thumb or a pick to sound the strings so palm mute takes care of what little more is needed.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    You are on the right track, that muting is a joint effort between the right and left hands. bholder has some good advice, about experimenting with different placement to know where the harmonics are and the dead spots.
  9. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Try not resting it on anything. Instead..."float" it, as in the "Floating Thumb Technique".

    Ant Illington likes this.
  10. jansen2k17


    Jan 16, 2017
    I've started using floating thumb and that has helped but it seems now that my E string is always ringing out! I do have a rather bony thumb. Could I be doing something wrong with the floating thumb or could it even be pickup height? (I have learned that problems rarely come from the instruments themselves)

    Update: I just experimented with using a pick and I basically used floating thumb but with the side of my hand and it worked out perfectly. Should I put some weight on my thumb? ;)

    Thanks for the help, I appreciate it
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    As @bholder states, I am guessing that the muting hand is holding down the string at a harmonic interval (fifth, octave, etc.) - that is why it is worse on certain frets.
  12. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Try touching the E string simultaneously in two different places, for example with your right-hand thumb and one of your left-hand fingers, and make sure you aren't touching at a harmonic "node."

    And be patient with yourself. Muting is an important concept! Even with the best teachers, it is not something that can be mastered in a few days. Good luck! :)
  13. jansen2k17


    Jan 16, 2017
    I guess what I'm basically asking is if it's ok to have short harmonics or other overtones when transitioning to a different string or something. Little sounds that you can't hear in a band context.

    I know I'm kind of being a wuss about it but I think it's an important issue that I'd rather tackle sooner than later in my bass playing.
  14. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    I think your on the right track. Where you're playing on the strings could have something to do with it. A little closer to the neck may fix it. Or tweak the EQ by reducing the High a little, may also help. If nothing works, try out that scrunchy on the nut trick. Or a combination of all 3. That should take out some of the harmonics.
    viper4000 likes this.
  15. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Yes, it is perfectly "ok" to be patient with your learning and forgiving of tiny flaws. Someday, years from now, your muting technique will be impeccable, and your bass won't make any sounds unless you specifically want it to. Until then, if the harmonics are so minor you can't hear them in a band context, then I'd say you are definitely on the right track and above-average in your abilities. Keep paying attention to muting, and practicing the exercises that your teacher gives you, and you'll be a muting expert someday. You've only been at it a few short weeks, so be patient. :)
    tonym likes this.
  16. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    My two cents. I started playing 25 years ago. I started fast and got right into bands. My ear isn't so precise that I noticed the ringing you're talking about. It wasn't until years later that I noticed. I still have sometimes. You have to slow down your playing enough to 1) hear everywhere and every time it happens and 2) force, (or "let" would be a better word since this is about relaxation) your fretting hand adjust itself to mute sufficiently. In no time your subconscious will make the adjustments a habit but you have to do this slowly.

    Again, slow down. :) I never believed it but it's true for almost any deep knowledge/skill development. Do everything way slower than you "can" sometimes but do it perfectly to develop/maintain good habits.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
  17. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    Yes. This reminds me that if you can learn for your plucking hand the techniques of floating thumb or movable anchor, these can GREATLY help with muting. You can also create harmonics so, as usual, go slow, listen and adjust. Again. Again....
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