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Thread: The muting thread

  1. #1
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    The muting thread

    I have seen several threads with muting issues... so instead of replying each one decided to open up even another thread about it.

    I see muting as a overall technique, not handled that differently in different styles, although this technique is primarily used in Rock/Pop and Fusion since you have more unwanted noise when playing loud and distorted.
    So here are my thoughts on it:

    The philosophy:
    First of all: Muting is what makes the listener hear what you really want to say.
    Before trying to say anything that is important to you make sure it comes out clean and controlled. Then, after the "noise" is filtered out, you can concentrate on WHAT you want to say. Then your articulation, the dynamics and other details

    Just compare it to speech.
    Like you wouldn't tell a girl "i love you" with your hand in front of your mouth, or mumbling it so silently that she won't understand. You wouldn't yell at her and you shouldn't do it while your chewing something. You wouldn't look bored in the other direction while telling her too..
    NO - you would look her in the eyes and tell her with the clearest words you can find, in a moderate volume, with heart and conviction that you really do love her.
    If you want to make a statement with your guitar, do exactly the same.
    Play "i love you's" all over the place. Make what you play important, and the first rule for somebody to believe you are meaning what you do is - make it clean and understandable - get rid of everything that is not worth telling.

    The technique
    In my opinion only muting with one hand isn't enough - the side of the right hand and the meaty part of the thumb are way to "unflexable" and stiff to get a controlled muting of unwanted string noise.
    If you want a muffled sound or ar "humphumphump" the right hand is doing the muting - but not like totally shut the sound off but to give it another quality.

    Most muting of unwanted string noise comes from the left hand, the way you fret notes and in which position you are and with wich finger you play the current note.
    In general, all lower strings of the played note are muted with the right hand.
    All higher strings are muted with the inside of the left hand - preferably the inside of the index finger.
    Additionally, the fretting finger has 3 jobs at once
    1) fretting the note you want to play obviously.
    2) muting the lower string by touching it with the tip
    3) muting the higher string by touching it with the inside of the first knuckle.


    Occasionally there is a situation where you can/should mute strings by gripping them with the right hand fingers.. maybe we'll come to details like that as the thread improves.

    That way, with general muting higher strings with the left and lower with the right hand, plus muting the individual adjacent strings of the fretted note will give you a solid and good sounding technique with least string noise as possible and most tone control of the fretted note.

    It sounds like a lot of stuff to take care off? Yes it is.
    Sounds like relearning left hand position? consider it maybe.

    The result for me learning it that way were tremendous - wichever note i play at any time, that is the only note possible to ring even if i strike all six strings. All others are dead.

    If you are playing rock, if it is loud and distorted you know how hard it is to keep control, with the technique i mentioned it is no prob at all. And for sure it comes in handy in any recording situation where it has to be clean and perfect ... welllll always important then.

    It is equally important to make sure that a note you want to play is heard and that the notes you don't want to play are not heared. Two tasks with one solution -> good muting technique.

    I had so many students that wouldn't even hear all the noise they were creating simply because they were concentrating on the note they are playing - thinking it sounds good, i made them focus on the "surround noise" they produce and kind of opened up their ears for the sounds that have to be there and the ones that doesn't have to be there.

    If you are not able to hear the string noise while you play (because you only concentrate on the note you play), then record yourself.
    Record yourself and listen to it closely.


    Listen to it like you would listen to your guitar hero and judge hard.
    (now considering playing a single note)
    If you wonder why it doesn't sound the same, chances are high it is:


    1) because your note doesn't sound free and open and conviced.


    Solution:
    - Practice muting and playing a clear note,
    - Experiment with dynamics - listen to how the tone develops differently with different pick attack.
    - Listen to how the tone changes when you angle or flatten the pick more.
    - Listen to the difference there is when you slightly dampen it with your right palm.
    - Put some heart and balls (if available ) into everything you play. Even a wrong note can sound good if you are playing it with conviction - everybody will think it has to be that way.. but only if your fingers make it sound like that!



    2) because there is noise beside the note you play.

    Solution:
    - Do all of the above plus practice muting even more and in detail!
    - Cut your nails, wash your hands, stop smoking and be nice to your parents.





    I will post wild pictures of hardcore muting action here on the weekend as well so keep stoping by.
    Maybe we can keep this thread up whenever muting issues appear.

    Hope that helped a bit.

    Sven
    Last edited by phantom; 03-04-2007 at 05:52 PM.

  2. #2
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    One finger one - double mute

    This close up is taken from the inside of the palm.
    First finger fretting a G on the D-string.

    Look at how the fingertip touches the A-String and the inside of the first finger lies flat (or kinda flat bow) on the higher strings..only touching no fretting!

    Also notice that the finger is fretting close to the actual fret.
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  3. #3
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    Same situation - different angle

    This is taken as you would look down upon it.
    In this pic you can slightly see that the thumb touches/mutes the low E-string.
    All strings besides the D string are muted now.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    Including the whole hand - sorry no manicure

    Now here is a similiar situation.
    1 Note fretted (C on the G-String) and the whole hand supports that one single note by muting everything else - in detail that is:

    1) first finger does the adjacent string muting thing i described above.

    2) second finger reaches over and touches the A-string and E- string to mute.

    3) third finger lies with a little bow over the fretboard and touches the higher and lower strings. That one is probably the toughest one, as is nearly touches the ringing string - take care to let about 2 -3 mm space above the string to swing properly.

    4) fourth finger is taking care of the B and high E-String mostly. See it's angle is more "open".

    5) the thumb reaches around and touches the low E.

    So, this is like an armour. Strings not muted only once, but twice with different fingers. See how the fingers look like a fan around the fretted note?
    You can strike all 6 strings and will only hear one.
    This is making totally sure only one note rings.
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    Last edited by phantom; 03-04-2007 at 05:24 AM.

  5. #5
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    G-string bend

    This is a bend on the G-String (whole step).

    Executed with the 3rd finger but with pushing and muting support from the others.
    To have more control over a bend you should use more then one finger.
    It just sounds terrible when you bend with one finger, it gets weak and the note drops flat. So, use more fingers, more power to control that note.

    A-String is touched by the upbending fingers.
    The Thumb mutes the low E here and the first finger takes care of the higher strings.

    Little flaw on that pic is that the bend should be fretted closer to the fret on the right.
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    Last edited by phantom; 03-03-2007 at 05:28 PM.

  6. #6
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    B- String bend

    This is a bend on the B-String.
    As you see, the first finger acts differently here.

    The first finger lies flat (just gently) on the strings and takes care of muting the A and the D-String. This is very important since there is no other finger that would possibly mute the A-String and you could get string noise there.

    Do that first finger muting whenever you bend the B or high E-String!


    Middle-finger supports ring-finger with the bend to provide strength.

    The spare little finger could be used to play anoter note on the high E-string.

    When releasing the bend, take care to keep the first finger across the fretboard in order not to get string noise by "pulling" a string off.
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    Last edited by phantom; 03-03-2007 at 05:32 PM.

  7. #7
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    On the fly

    This is the last one, like a single frame out of a run.

    Imagine this as a a-minor scale D note on the G string 7th fret.
    Let's look at it in detail:

    1) First finger just lifted off the 5th fret but stays close to the fretboard and soon will shift down to the B-String to play the F on the 6th fret. In the meantime it stays there touching the higher strings as that is not possible for the little finger at the moment (that one has to reach up to the E on the G-String now)

    2) Second finger is fretting the D on 7th fret on the G-String. See that again the fingertip is touching the D-String and the inside of the first knuckle touches the B-string.

    3) Third finger is not used in this sequence and is straightend a bit and doesn't touch anything, but stays close to the fretboard - cause that is where you could need it. For instance you could fit the blue note (Eb on G-String 8th fret) in there and play it with that third finger.. it kinda hovers above the note ready to fret it whenever you want.

    4) Fourth finger is about to reach up cause it is the next finger to fret the E on the G-string 9th fret.

    I have to admit that this picture is a little below perfect ( ), since the first finger is a bit too high and the pinky too low and far away from the fret it is needed in a split second... took me quite some time to do this anyway, so i thought that pic will do as it is.




    I really hope that helps a bit - maybe i should have made an article out of this thread, but well... this is just the way it went.

    Hope you can use it - any requests welcome.

    Sven
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    Last edited by phantom; 03-03-2007 at 05:45 PM.

  8. #8
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    I can't say enough good things about this thread,

    ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT post Phantom(Sven) !!

    excellent advice with detail, excellent pictures, excellent effort,

    this advice and the techniques to accomplish muting are SO IMPORTANT! ,

    THANK YOU !!!
    "Success is arriving at a Personal Satisfaction within yourself"

    Dedicated To Guitar!!!

  9. #9
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    Thank you a lot Schooligo! Means a lot to me to hear that form you!

    I just hope that it helps others as well.. as i know that could mean to relearn hand position and stuff so people could like - try to avoid the confrontation .. but i hope that those who this thread should be relevant to take the extra amount of effort and time to get their tone in shape. .

    As you said - this is just so important.

  10. #10
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    Wow, that is too awesome phantom. Helped me a great deal with my left hand. Gonna practice a sh*teload.

    Small question though. When playing a lick ascending the strings in pitch, which part of your right hand do you use to dampen?

  11. #11
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    Hey NG7

    Good to hear that it helped you!
    The toughest thing is probably to have a so much control over the left hand, to be able to put different force on different fingers, changing that according to the finger that frets the note next with the others supporting.
    It's hard at first but your fingers will (have to) become a team where 1 plays the note and 3 support that one finger.

    Now, to your question:
    If i start a run on the low E-string nothing is muted with the right hand at all.
    The inside of the left hand fingers take care of that.
    On the A-String the fingertips touch/mute the low E-String -no right hand either.
    Now, when going to the D-string the right hand drops in and dampens the low E (at that moment A-string is muted with left fingertip. D-string is played, G-String with left hand inside 1st knuckle).
    Try that out in detail and you'll see the method behind it.
    With every string you move up the fretboard one more string has to be controlled by the right hand since, in a lick/run/sequence you can reach up with other fingers to muten those low strings.

    Sounds more complicated than it is - if i could show you, you would immediately be able to know what i mean.

    Hope you are anyways

    Hang in there dude!

    Sven

    PS.: Oh and now after reading your question again... it's the meaty part of the thumb that is muting.

    If you have your guitar hanging down low then it most probably is the right outside of your right hand.
    So, you see it depends on how the guitar is positioned to your hands and the angles and all that.
    Feel free to post any pics of your handpositions or other issues if you like!
    Visuals help a lot as you know .
    Last edited by phantom; 03-05-2007 at 11:34 AM.

  12. #12
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    Great thread! I have worked quite a bit on this stuff, especially when I was working on funk rhythm chops. I remember seeing Jon Frusciante playing single note riffs but hitting all 6 strings with the pick - and I was a bit confused about that for a while I never got to that level of muting but I do work on it - sometimes I do it too much.

    I have one persistent problem in that with playing on the high E for a long time (say like pedal licks or tremolo picking), my Right hand position leaves the low E open and my left hand is not covering the low strings either => on high gain lots of noise builds up. I have tried to change the RH position but I guess another answer is to use the LH Thumb to cover those low strings - doh!

  13. #13
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    Oh yeah.. damn i forgot all about funk!

    All those ghost notes are mandatory for cool rhythm riffs and licks and the muting is indeed an issue there.
    So, now at this minute i didn't check for a theoretical approach but took the guitar and jammed through a few funk clichees.
    Here is the method i do:
    My left hand middle finger is almost constantly laying across all strings muting them. The open notes (mostly out of the pentatonic, dorian of mixolydian scale) are played with the other fingers.
    Like, the ghost note rhythm goes through it all with the middle finger muting, and according to the riff or lick, the middle finger comes and lets those notes ring for like a 16th note.

    How could i forget about funk! dammit!

    Let's see if i can get a decent video up on youtube for that, .

    Sven
    Last edited by phantom; 03-06-2007 at 07:46 AM.

  14. #14
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    On a special note - i understand where your "high e-String issues" come from.
    As i can not controle all the lower strings with my right hand all the time - especially with fast right-hand movement.
    As described above, the left hand does most of the job.
    And yes Frusciante and all those funk players do have that muting technique down to 100%.

    It is not something that is learned on top of playing the original note or lick, but more like the other 50% of playing the original note or lick. It is all within how you grab that note and how the hand hand works as a team.
    Last edited by phantom; 03-06-2007 at 07:48 AM.

  15. #15
    Registered User Obivion's Avatar
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    Great thread Sven, but er, wouldn't it be easier to turn this into an article for ibreathe?
    No one sings the blues quite like Yngwie!

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