If you want to be a pro guitar player, one of the most important skills that you need to learn is how to mute guitar strings. In case you don’t know what muting a guitar string is, no worries, because we’ll explain this directly below. Let’s get to it and talk about exactly how to mute guitar strings, what it means, and why you need to be able to do it.
What is Muting a Guitar String?
In layman’s terms, muting guitar strings simply means touching it in such a way that it stops ringing. It can also mean touching it in such a way that it doesn’t make a sound to begin with. Simply put, muting a guitar string stops it from making a sound.
There are several reasons why you might want to mute the guitar string. For instance, if you are playing classical guitar, one of the main points is to play connected and smooth notes.
In other words, one note begins exactly as one other ends. This allows for really smooth sounds. Two allow for this, you therefore need to stop the previous sound from being made, which is done by muting the string.
How to Mute Guitar Strings (In the Middle of Playing): Various Methods
There are actually quite a few different ways to mute guitar strings. Exactly which method you use will depend on your playing style. It often depends on what feels the most comfortable for you.
So, figuring out the best way to mute a guitar string may take some trial and error. Let’s cover the different ways to mute a guitar string to figure out which method is best for you.
1. Lifting the Left Hand
An easy way to stop a note from ringing is to simply stop pressing on the strings with your left hand finger or fretting hand. If you lift either your whole hand or a single finger off of the string, you release pressure on it. It will therefore stop making the sound it was making.
However, be aware that you can’t lift your fingers all the way off the string (as this will then create the open string note). Your fingers should still be slightly touching the string, as this will stop it from vibrating. Here, you aren’t necessarily letting go of the strings, but just letting go of your tight grip.
2. The Left Hand Touch Technique
Another very easy way to mute a string is to use one of the fingers on your left hand to touch the string that is currently ringing. Most people would use their index finger for this, but you can always use any finger you see fit, or even your whole hand.
What you are doing here is lightly touching the string that is currently ringing. If you touch the string, it will stop vibrating, and therefore stop making it sound. However, you need to practice this, because you can’t press down on that string.
Here, you are just lightly touching the string to stop it from vibrating, but you aren’t pressing down on it. If you press down on this string you, you’re just going to press down on the fret and play a different note. The point is of course to stop the string from making a sound, not to play a note.
3. Muting with Your Right Hand Thumb
Another very commonly used technique to mute a guitar string is to use your thumb on your right hand. This is a slightly more difficult method, especially if you are using a guitar pick. This is because you need to use the thumb on your strumming hand to very lightly touch the string that is vibrating.
You’re going to touch the vibrating string with your thumb just enough to stop it from vibrating, and therefore stopping it from making a sound. This can however be quite difficult if you are in the middle of strumming. This is a method that will require a good deal of practice.
Another method to mute strings is to plant. This means that you are putting one of the fingers of your right hand, your strumming hand, on the string, before it is played. Keeping your finger or fingers on one or various strings will prevent them from making a note before it is time to play them.
5. Karate Chop & The Karate Chop Fade
Another popular method of muting guitar strings, especially to end a song, is by karate chopping the strings. Now, of course, you aren’t going to karate chop those strings to the point where you break the guitar in half.
Here, you are only using a very light chop to touch all of the strings at once. You aren’t touching the strings hard enough to cause them to click against the fret board. This is a great way to abruptly end a song.
You can then also do that karate chop directly on the bridge, right behind the strings, and then roll your right hand forward. This creates the effect of the volume on your guitar being slowly turned down until there is no noise left. It will slowly mute the strings, but not in an abrupt way.
Muting Guitar Strings with a Guitar Capo
The above methods were all about muting guitar strings while you are playing the guitar. In other words, those methods were about stopping a note from ringing after it has been played. However, you may also mute guitar strings permanently by using a guitar capo. These are special little devices that are attached to the neck of your guitar, and can be moved to any position.
They permanently clamp down on the strings, thus muting anything above the capo. There are many different kinds of guitar capos out there. There are ones that can mute all strings at once, and ones that only mute certain strings at a time. We therefore do recommend performing some research on guitar capos before purchasing one.
There you have it folks, six different ways to mute guitar strings. It’s not the easiest skill, but in order to become a professional guitar player, it is something you will have to learn.