How to Get Rid of Unwanted String Noise
Photo by Frame Harirak on Unsplash
When playing lead guitar, the only notes you want ringing out are the ones you are playing at the moment, unless your line involves more than one note ringing out at once (double stops, unison bends, etc). In reality, it is difficult to achieve this due to how the guitar is constructed. Any movement of the guitar will cause its strings to vibrate and produce sound. Add distortion to your signal and the string
noise gets amplified even more. However, if you observe any great guitar player, you will notice that they manage to keep the unwanted string noise to a minimum. In most cases, they are using a combination of fretting and picking hand muting.
The following section breaks down these techniques and explains how you can practice fretting and picking hand string muting.
Fretting Hand Muting
Proper string muting always involves both fretting and picking hand muting simultaneously. in the fretting hand, the muting will be done on the higher strings, or any of the strings which are higher than the string you are currently playing. Use the side of your index finger to mute the higher strings. For example, if you are fretting the 5th fret on the 4th string, the side of your index finger should be muting the third, second and first string.
The following image shows which area of the index finger should be used to mute the higher strings.
Picking Hand Muting
Picking hand muting is the exact opposite of fretting hand muting. Fretting hand muting involves muting all the strings higher than the note you are playing. Picking hand muting involves muting all the strings which are lower than the note you’re playing. To mute the lower strings, use the flesh of the bottom of your palm, closer to where your thumb is.
Here you can see exactly which area of the palm should be used to mute the lower strings.
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, both fretting and picking hand muting need to happen simultaneously. No matter what note you’re playing, the side of the index finger of the fretting hand is always going to mute the higher strings, and the palm of your picking hand is always going to mute the lower strings.
How to Practice Muting
The best way to practice this is to play a note on the same fret over each string one at a time, and pick all the strings with your picking hand to make sure that the only note ringing out is the note that you’re fretting. For example, if you choose the 5th fret, first pick the 5th fret on the lowest string while muting all the higher strings with your fretting hand index finger. Pick all the strings one at a time to make sure that only the 6th string note is ringing out. Do the same with all the other strings. As you move towards the higher strings, you will need to use more of picking hand muting, as there will be more strings lower than the note you’re playing.
You can also use scales to practice fretting and picking hand muting. Instead of only picking the individual notes in the scale, strum all 6 strings to make sure that only the fretted note is ringing out and all the other strings are being properly muted by both your fretting and picking hand.
Learning to play guitar on your own can be frustrating and challenging, especially if you don’t know what to do. Having a great teacher makes the whole process more fun, enjoyable and gets you real results fast.
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