Muting strings is extremely important to any musician. After spending hours practicing, no one wants fuzz and background noise to ruin their hard work. A few simple tips can keep you from falling victim to this plague of style ruination.
The first step is to observe your form. Do you keep your palm tight to the strings, or do you tend to hover?
If you keep tight to the strings it is important that you keep tight enough that you don’t cause excess noise; palm brushes can lead to irritating amounts of string noise.
Now if you have been playing for an extended period of time, you may find it difficult to change your bad habits. It is possible though, so don’t give up.
First off is height. The proper palm height on a bass guitar is roughly half of an inch above the strings. Notice I said strings, not bridge; you won’t be doing any good to mute your bass strings by resting your palm on your bridge.
Some musicians like to rest the butt of their palm on the bridge, or the tip on the higher strings. This helps create quicker access for muting. While it may not be the best form in the world, and it won’t win any prizes for style, it is highly effective.
The most important thing to consider when you mute strings is simply which strings are not currently in use. If you are playing on the E string, you don’t want to mute the E string; you want to mute the A, D, and G strings.
Pay attention to your hand and its positioning in relation to the strings being played. You want your hand close enough to the voices sounding to be able to reach them, yet also close enough to mute the other strings.
Unlike the electric guitar, the bass guitar has options for muting. The first is well known to guitarists because it is their method; palm muting. If you are a bass player who uses a pick, this may be best muting method for you.
Palm muting is achieved by firmly resting your palm across the strings that are not currently being used. If you are playing an A string run, your palm would be resting along your D and G strings. This method can also be used to create palm mutes, which are muted notes that still sound out.
If you are a finger picking bass player, the best method of muting may be the finger method muting. There are two variations for this method, and both are equally effective depending on your playing style. The first is grabbing. To mute open string that are not in use, you simply hold with the fingers not in use.
This is mostly effective if you are playing simple melodies involving only the thumb and forefinger. The second finger method is achieved by laying the unused fingers across the unused strings. This method is better for more active players, as it allows you to retain mobility.
The best way to find the perfect muting method for you is to try them all and see which feels best. Remember, there is no one true way, so keep an open mind regardless of goals.
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