String Muting for Tone

Posted: March 4, 2010 by Paul H in Tips & Tricks
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beckPeople often ask me how I get a certain tone. One secret about tone is you need to allow a string to vibrate without interference from the other strings. This is not a big deal on classical guitar or jazz guitar, or any other clean tones. But, this is huge if you have a big amp turned up really loud with lots of gain. The electric/metal guitar is the only instrument I can think of that wants to go crazy without anyone touching it!

The problem is extra noise. Let’s say you’re playing at the 14th fret on the G string, like Jeff Beck in the picture. Look, he’s covering the other strings with his thumb and fingers to make sure that none of those other strings vibrate.

If they do vibrate, they will make noise and ruin that awesome A note he’s playing on the G string! Many guitarists handle muting the strings in different ways. My preferred method is to let my fretting finger mute the adjacent strings next to it, then mute the other strings with my thumb, my other fingers, or any way that’s possible. Then my backup is palm muting on the bridge.

String muting is going to be hard if you’re not used to it. After practicing though, it will become a habit and you won’t have to think about it. Then people will ask you how you get that awesome tone and what pickups and effects you use.


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