22. Muting

There are 2 basic types of muting: right hand and left hand. Both are useful.

 Right hand muting:

The most common right hand muting technique places the right hand parallel to the bridge, almost on top of it. Primarily used on the bass strings, it produces a distinctive, ‘thumping’ sound:

Here is this technique in a sample riff:


The other most common right hand mute is the entire hand slapping down on top of the strings:

To create a more pronounced sound,  curl your hand and use the fingernails.  The more forceful the slap, the greater the percussive effect:

There are quite a few variations, but these should be mastered before moving forward.


Left hand muting:

The method you choose to mute strings with the left hand depends simply on whether you are muting an open chord or a barre chord. For a barre chord, just release the pressure of the hand enough to deaden the strings:

Here it is in a chord progression:

Muting open chords requires freeing up one or more fingers to stop the strings. It is slightly more challenging, since the open strings as well as the fretted notes must be stopped. For a simple E chord, I use my pinky:

The pinky will also work for am, D, and some other related chords.

However, a chord such as C or G will benefit from the use of one of the other fingers:

Experiment to see what works best for you. In general, the pinky only works when it is ‘free’ and there is no better option.

©2012 Jim Greenfield