No one likes noise. That being said, no one likes noise any less than a musician. The problem is, some musicians are either sloppy or just plain lazy, and they force us to listen to large quantities of their noise.
For those of us who don’t want to subject the world to our unnecessary noise, how do we mute our bass strings to prevent it?
Not only does it make it harder to play well (the more distance you have to travel to pick or finger a note, the harder it is to keep proper time) but it also throws your form off. If your hand is extremely far from your bass, then the rest of your arm is as well.
That means your arm won’t be resting in a natural position. This can not only cause discomfort after prolonged periods of playing, but it can also lead to our main problem; added noise.
The further your hand has to travel to play a string, the quicker you must close a short distance. This means there are more chances to create excess noise than there are to actually execute a proper technique.
Now, your distance isn’t the only thing that can help you mute your bass guitar strings. You should also pay attention to the strings you are playing and, more importantly, the strings that you are not playing. The strings you are not playing shouldn’t be making any noise. The only reason they would be is if you are brushing them with either your fretting hand or your picking hand.
One of the popular techniques modern bass players like to employ to mute their bass strings is one that we like to call the bridge. The bridge is a simple concept; bridge your palm over the lower inactive strings.
The strings that are most commonly guilty of making excess noise are the lower strings, as your hand tends to brush against them when maneuvering about the higher strings. This can be avoided simply by bridging your palm against the lower strings. Not only does this mute them, but it will also muffle any accidental notes that you may pluck.
The final step in properly muting your bass guitar strings is by paying attention to your fretting hand.
A good fretting hand requires accuracy. If you find that you have trouble fretting certain notes in certain runs, the problem isn’t because of your strings; you pushed yourself too fast, too early. This is a problem that many musicians face, as they all want to learn to play impressive licks on the bass, but don’t want to take the time to learn them from the ground up. Instead, they rush in, try them at full speed, and develop sloppy techniques in both fretting and fingering.
Don’t let this be you!
All strings noise can be avoided with a little extra caution and attention to your form. Take the time, and your playing will thank you.
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