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:
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.