what is this technique called?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Ivs, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Ivs


    Sep 4, 2008
    Oslo, Norway
    I find myself plucking strings that I'm already muting a lot. I like the percussion-y sound it makes. If this is a technique, does it have a name?

    Here's an example: http://mejiatryti.com/Ivar2/unsorted/mutebasspluckthing.mp3 (if it's not 0:48, try downloading again)

    Also, does this count as overplaying?
  2. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    A double stop is two notes at once.

    There's really no term for this technique. It's pretty much muting with your left hand.

    So, it's called muting.
  3. DaveF

    DaveF Guest

    Dec 22, 2007
    New Westminster, BC
    Those are called Ghost Notes. They're actually very common in funk music - check out the bassist from Tower of Power.

    Don't worry; it's not overplaying if you're groovin' with the drummer!
  4. mwiles30


    Dec 31, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power) and Jaco are used ghost notes a lot.

    Definitely adds funk, and like DaveF said, you aren't overplaying if you're locked in the pocket.

    That's how Rocco and Jaco (HA!-rhyming names...) get away with playing some of the busiest lines out there: they both are perfectly in the pocket.
  5. Delta_Petra


    Feb 26, 2008
    Portland, OR
    That was a pretty nice groove. Good job.
  6. Ivs


    Sep 4, 2008
    Oslo, Norway
    Oh, ghost notes sounds cool :bassist: I've heard of ghost notes or something similar on the snare drum, never occurred to me that the term could be used here, too. Awesome, thanks :)
  7. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Agreed. I love ghost notes. I feel they add a lot to a bassline. I've played lines with my ghost notes in (Almost seems second nature at this point... not sure that's always a good thing though. :)) and then take them out, much less groove. :)

    I'd say keep at it. Didn't sound like overplaying to me. Especially if you're locked with the drummer and working your harmony with the melody.


    Feb 2, 2005
    S. Carolina
    Also referred to as " grace" notes in orchestration.
  9. EADG mx

    EADG mx Guest

    Jul 4, 2005
    Some correct me if I'm wrong here.

    What you're playing is referred to as "muted notes"

    Ghost notes are simply quieter notes. They can be muted but don't have to be.

    Grace notes are quick notes that appear smaller on the page. They are used as an ornamentation to lead into another note. They often don't have a preset rhythmic duration, and you subtract the duration from the note prior.

    So mutes can be ghosts, ghosts can be muted, grace notes can be ghosts, etc etc. They can be related in performance but they are different things.


    Mutes are a ton of fun. There are lots of ways to articulate them to add a percussive feel to your playing. You can pluck them, slap with your fingertips, incorporate them in your slap bass lines, or slap with your fretting hand. Also try palm muting, which is muting with your plucking hand. The great thing about bass is that with two free hands on the strings, you can mute with your right hand, left hand, or any mix of the two. Get creative.
  10. OnederTone

    OnederTone Aguilar Everywhere Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2002
    Thornton, CO
    EADG mx- I think you're sorta- right... and wrong too. There is a wiki page for "Ghost Note" that describes it as you do for percussion and keyed instruments; but makes different references for stringed instruments. The technique Ivs is asking about is known as a "ghost note" and as it pertains to electric and double bass and nearly every other stringed instrument I'm aware of. A Ghost Note is muted to the point where there is no distinct pitch. I've never heard it referred to either in instruction or in common discussion as anything other.

    Here's the difference as I've understood it as it applies to producing the two sounds-

    Ghost notes are produced by the fretting hand by "half-fretting" i.e. providing enough pressure to deaden the string but not produce a tone. The resulting sound produced is an indistinct "thud"

    Muting is a function of the plucking or picking hand. Either by deadening the plucked string with the alternate picking finger or thumb or palm muting the strings and picking with a pick or the thumb, "Sting-style" (I just made that up- he's just the most visible player that does it) the result is a note that has a distinct tone, but decays very quickly.

    Thelibster.com has a pretty good lesson describing "Ghost Notes"

    And because I keep thinking about this- Here's a video of Rocco playing and describing "Ghosting"

    And one of Sting's Palm muting style

  11. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I was taught that a 'ghost' note is when you don't press the string all the way down onto the fretboard causing a percussive sound and not an actual sounding note. I believe the term 'ghost note' is correct.

    Muted notes is when you can still hear a note tone but it doesn't sustain giving sort of a percussive effect. Bassist Jerry Brooks is a master of playing muted notes or 'Palm Muting'. Check him out on BassplayerTV.

  12. OnederTone

    OnederTone Aguilar Everywhere Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2002
    Thornton, CO
    <thread jack>
    J-E-R-R-Y B-R-O-O-K-S !!!!

    I'd never heard of him... thanks for correcting the grievous error, DW!

    I especially dig the line he's playing in video #7...

    #10 reminds me of Abraham Laboriel... heck... HE reminds me of Abraham Laboriel!

    </thread jack>