Picking Hand Muting

There are 3 ways of muting with your picking hand. The side of the palm is used to mute all of a portion of the strings. Palm muting is used for rhythm playing and some players use it during lead playing.

An ideal way of doing muting with the picking hand during lead play, is Thumb muting. Thumb muting takes care of the lower strings above the string being played. During thumb muting you must change the anchoring of your hand from the palm to the base of your thumb.

Many players use the picking hand “free fingers” to clean up their playing. Make a loose fist and let your middle, ring, and pinky fingers lightly touch the higher strings that are beneath the note being played.

Fretting Hand Muting

Fret hand muting is most often done with your index finger but also the other fingers, including the thumb.

Use the back of your index finger, or the other 3 fingers, to mute the strings below the string being played. The thumb is used to mute the low E string and sometimes the A string when playing open chords.

Proficient muting of “unwanted string noise” is accomplished with a good balance of muting with both hands. Using the picking hand thumb to mute the thicker strings and the fretting hand index finger to mute the thinner strings. This could allow you to hit all 6 strings and still only hear 1 note.

What about hair bands?

Another option that a few players have found to mute unwanted string noise is putting a hair band, rubber band, or even a sock wrapped loosely around the strings and guitar neck near the top of the fretboard around the 1st fret.  I personally find this to be the “Lazy way” of muting excess string noise. Also, it is not very pleasing to look at and is an eye sore. I recommend you DON’T try this method and learn to do it the correct way with your hands and fingers! You will be glad you did later.

It takes a lot of practice to get this just right and may cause much frustration when working on it. You will need to let your ears be the judge!

To avoid this potentially becoming a larger problem in your playing, start putting focus on muting in an early stage of your development as a player!

About the Arthur: Josh Clayton is a professional guitar instructor based in the Slidell, Louisiana area. If you or any one you know are interested in guitar lessons in Slidell then be sure to contact Josh through his website.


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