Yet Another Muting Question (Right Hand Ring Finger)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Anatosuchus, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Anatosuchus


    Aug 21, 2020
    I'm having some trouble with a rapid build-up of harmonics on my middle strings (six string bass but I'm not sure that's relevant given the strings I'm having trouble with), especially the D as I move between D and A. Muting with the left (right-handed player) doesn't seem to damp them effectively during a relatively fast passage but I'm starting to think I may be able to drop my right index finger below the plucking string so it's damping D whilst I'm playing on A. Initial experiments suggest it's plausible but tricky.

    I realise there's an element of "do what works for you" but I don't want to work hard getting it to actually function if it's going to lead to weird technique problems later, so is this a recognised technique? If so, can anyone point to a video or two of it being used or, even better, demonstrated and explained?

    In case it's relevant I'm working on the opening pattern in Losfer Words by Iron Maiden, because I am a sucker for punishment.

    Many thanks.
  2. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    You pick the right tool for the particular job. There's no point in giving yourself a headache when there's no need to. I'd play it on a 4, just like Steve Harris did.
    Chrisk-K and InhumanResource like this.
  3. Anatosuchus


    Aug 21, 2020
    I don't have a four.

    Plus, I given I'm playing on the A and D I can't see how that's going to make a difference, it's just the sensitivity and resonance of this instrument. The D is the primary culprit.

    Double-plus, that particular song is just a current example of where it comes out.
    bassrique and gebass6 like this.
  4. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    The more strings you have, the more muting is required, and that's harder with a wider neck for a start.
  5. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    Jaco spent as much time on the muting for Donna Lee as he did learning the line. On a 4...
  6. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    Stop telling him to put down his six.
    That's what he wants to play.
  7. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    Then he can find out for himself...
  8. Anatosuchus


    Aug 21, 2020
    Thank you for your insightful and helpful input.
    Claymore likes this.
  9. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    I wish you the best of luck.
  10. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    I always had a harder time muting on a five vs a four string but it’s always moving up the neck to the higher pitched strings that gave me trouble. What does your left hand technique look like? Do you have any fingers available that can mute that string, or can you play with a little less curvature in your hand maybe?
    thabassmon likes this.
  11. Anatosuchus


    Aug 21, 2020
    The thing is, nearly all the notes I'm fretting in that passage are on the D (the A is open) but it's still building up this harmonic noise. I'm trying to keep in contact with the string more between notes but I think as the contact is still hanging around frets 4, 5 and 7 it's not killing it. We absolutely should not rule out incompetence at this stage, I'm going to play with it a bit now.

    Also, for future argument's sake, let's assume that the song I mentioned in the OP (no longer open for edit) was something by Jon Stockton.
  12. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    I think you need to work on the left hand more than the right. Take this example, 90% of the muting is in the left hand, it has to be with the thumb:

    Flatten the arch of your left hand and keep more contact across the strings.
  13. Anatosuchus


    Aug 21, 2020
    Yeah, I think you are onto something there. I'm losing contact with the string between notes, especially when switching fingers. If I play everything on the D with the same finger and slide it up and down the actual string between notes the effect is quite reduced (though not gone until I step up to the A and the D is muted naturally by my left).

    Going to have to work more on retaining left hand contact between notes and maybe adding a bit more movement to get the contact away from any harmonic nodes. (*checks something*) In fact, I've just found out if that I fret the note below the one I want to play at the same time, it has a really strong effect. Should have seen this before, it's basic physics!

    Fiddly, but probably easy with some work.
  14. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    Hm so the trick, depending on the passage, may be to keep the remaining fingers if your left hand (behind the note that is being fretted) in contact with the D string so when you lift that fretting finger the others mute the string. For example, if you’re fretting the G at the fifth fret D string with your pinky, keep your left hand index, middle, and ring fingers still lightly touching the D string so when you lift that pinky finger the remaining fingers mute the D string. All it takes is one or two other fingers touching that string to mute the harmonics when you lift off the note.
    Wasnex likes this.
  15. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    As well as playing the string you are on, allow the tip to touch/brush the string above to stop the harmonics/mute that string, something I posted a while back about muting on a 5:

    "Flattening the arch of your hand a bit extends the reach of your fingers for muting, I find when I'm fretting/playing on the E, my fretting tips also make brushing contact with the B string, keeping it quiet hopefully. Usually to stop it transmitting the sympathetic vibration of the bass."
  16. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    I played only a 5 string (with super tight string spacing) for a decade or so, and the harmonics and ring aren't there, unless I want them.
    I studied my playing and realized that muting, for me, is a lot of left (fretting) hand. It's unconscious, but watching myself in a mirror or on video I realized my left hand is probably 80-90% of how I mute the strings.

    Something as subtle as holding a note with a finger tip and using the lower part of that finger to mute other strings (but, at playing tempos of, say, Iron Maiden :) ) or holding a chord shape with three fingers while muting with the fourth and the edge of the fretting hand aren't things I thought about doing, it just became how I did it.
    Looking back, I realize I was probably playing bass 8-9 hours a day, so, it became the way I played. (...i miss those days sometimes)

    I hate to say it, but you may just need to play that Dingwall a lot more. ;) :D
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
    gebass6 likes this.
  17. Anatosuchus


    Aug 21, 2020
    Drat! I hate playing that thing!

    Now, I just need to quit my job and my karate, er, and my family, and I'll have real time to devote to learning. :D
    gebass6 and wraub like this.
  18. Bonafide

    Bonafide The Adventures Of Fusion Chicken

    Oct 15, 2002
    Central TX
    Bottom line IMO...practice... on your chosen instrument is key here. And I will say, string brand / gauge matching for your style/technique etc is MASSIVE when it comes to controlling overtones. As expensive as it may be, there is just no getting around putting in the time to experiment with strings (for THAT bass). But I would not overthink it, I would practice! (Like I should be doing right now :)) I have never owned a Dingwall, but they look fantastic.
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Yes this is true.

    However, since the OP wants to play 6-string, he needs to expand and enhance his muting technique instead of caving and playing on 4-string every time he has a problem. Playing the piece on 4-string will just reinforce his tendencies as a 4-string player, rather than helping him learn the skills necessary as a 6-string player.

    When I transitioned to 5-string, my 4-string muting technique seemed to work fine. A few years later when I transitioned to 6-string, I noticed that I was not able to effectively control string ring with my existing technique. It took about 2 years for me to expand my muting technique and internalize it so it happened automatically. IMHO the OP should play the 6-string exclusively until a high degree of mastery is achieved.

    After about a decade on 6-string I considered it home. I.E. I was no longer a 4-string player faking it on 6-string. Instead I now think like a natural 6-string player. I can still play 5-strings, and 4-strings, but when I do I miss the extra strings and may have to modify the way I navigate the finger board. Because of this I can play most freely on a 6-string bass, where before I could play most freely on a 4-string. What I am saying is a natural 4-string player tends to think a bit different than a natural 6-string player.

    I use a combination of left and right hand muting, and also clean playing to control string ring. On my plucking hand I use floating thumb to control the lower strings, and the ring finger and pinkie to control the inner strings. Depending upon the situation I may also use a bit of palm muting. Most of the time I don't think about it, and I rarely have string ring. Occasionally, I have to put some conscious effort into controlling the ring though. I can usually look down and adjust my hand shape and position to correct the problem with very little effort.

    There are still a few circumstances where I think a 4-string is superior, but IMHO the 6-string has way more advantages than disadvantages to me. YMMV, so this is not a criticism of your choice to play 4-string. FYI Chris Ballew used a 2-string Basitar and sounded absolutely fabulous, but I will stick with my 6-string (mostly).
    Big Shrek, gebass6 and Anatosuchus like this.
  20. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Why not just use a bridge mute for a while?