Benson Technique and String Noise

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by JazzMac251, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. JazzMac251

    JazzMac251 Member

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    I've decided that it's finally time to take the plunge with the Benson RH technique. As much of a pain in the butt as it is, it gets me closer to the sound and feel I'm looking for than my current (normal) technique.

    I've experimented with other floating RH techniques and I find them vastly superior, but the problem I ALWAYS run into is sympathetic vibrations from the other unmuted strings. I've experimented with floating my RH using the standard RH setup, and I find that it's still possible to keep the low strings quiet by having some part of my palm gently graze the low strings SOMETIMES. This is enough to keep them in line. However, with the GB technique, regardless of what "school" of RH anchoring you subscribe to, you're going to have your hand anchored (spatially) BELOW the string you're currently playing on. This completely rules out ALL RH muting.

    My question is this: You guys that have nailed this technique down, how do you take care of this issue? I've been doing a LOT of listening to GB in some pretty exposed situations, and he almost NEVER has any strings ringing from sympathetic vibrations AT ALL. I guess it has to be left hand muting, but, man, how? It doesn't look like he's doing anything special with his left hand, yet his unplayed strings are mostly dead silent. This is NOT the case when I do it, and God help me if I start playing around a position with a lot of harmonics to grab (e.g. around 12th position).

    I have some experience with Django-style Gypsy techniques too, which also heavily rely on floating the RH. Again, my sound devolves into a wash of unmuted string noise, yet Jimmy Rosenberg's other strings are mostly dead silent. What gives? :(

    Any advice will be very appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    How did you take the plunge to the Benson technique? Did you study Tuck Andress' picking page or the JC Styles video or just watch George?
     
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

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    What's wrong with LH muting?

    My pick technique (totally accidentally, self-taught!) is similar to GB's, and I have no trouble with sympathetic vibrations - not that I've noticed anyhow - presumably because I've trained myself over the years to mute any string(s) I'm not actually playing, with the left hand if not (also) with the right.
    Personally I think the fret hand should always be in contact with all the strings, muting or fretting, unless you actually want open strings to sound. I consider that a basic technique, in fact. (This is on amplified guitar mainly, where unmuted (unwanted) strings cause more of a problem than on acoustic.)
     
  4. john beddoe

    john beddoe Member

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  5. gennation

    gennation Member

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    George uses heavy left hand muting. Have you looked at any pictures or videos of George playing? Keep your left hand thumb up over the fretboard, it helps lay the fingers over the strings help you you naturally mute the string above the one you're playing as well almost all of the strings below the one you're playing.
     
  6. dingusmingus

    dingusmingus Member

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    George and many others who use this style also don't play with a lot of gain, so minor string noise isn't as big of a deal, I would think.
     
  7. JazzMac251

    JazzMac251 Member

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    There's nothing wrong with it, per se, but my left hand technique is closer to the "classical" thumb-flat-behind-fingerboard concept. This helps with speed, precision, and promotes tendon health over the long run. This technique makes it difficult (to say the least) to mute the lower strings when playing the higher strings. It would have to be done with the thumb, and even then you'd only get the low E (maybe the A if you really crunch your hand).



    I have checked out the Tuck Andress page. It was very helpful, indeed! That guy really knows his guitar technique. I also checked out some of the JC Styles videos, but my primary insights were taken from the Phil Buckle video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EDjb1RDfc8 . I know what he's doing isn't EXACTLY how GB does it, but my right hand seems to prefer what he's doing. The only issue of course being the muting problem...

    Again, though, Phil doesn't seem to have too many issues with sympathetic vibrations. I don't get it.
     
  8. gennation

    gennation Member

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    You'll need to get that thumb over the fretboard. We've been through this in so many threads before. Just go to youtube or google images and you'll see the technique the greats use regardless of style...but definitely for jazz styles.
     
  9. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    Obviously, I don't know how you are doing it, but a free floating right hand without right and left hand damping does not always mean that other strings get in on the act.

    Have a look at EVH's tremolo technique where he's using no right or left hand damping and is playing with the right hand nowhere near the strings at high volume and gain with no sympathetic vibrations from other strings.

    Around the 1:50 mark Troy Grady mentions about other strings ringing.


     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  10. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I appreciate what you say about "correct" thumb technique, but that's only really necessary for classical guitar, with its wide flat neck.
    And the thumb only needs to touch the 6th anyway - it doesn't need to wrap over. I manage to mute all my other strings with my left hand easily enough - it'a automatic and subconscious now.
    (Because it is automatic, the occasional unwanted string might sneak out and vibrate now and then, but it's not often. I remember having a lesson with a bass tutor who pointed out I was allowing open strings to ring - because my LH bass technique was a little different - but I managed to fix it quickly and easily by transferring my LH guitar technique.)

    Essentially (wherever your thumb is) your fret hand is wrapped around the neck at all times. You never let the strings go, ever (this is when playing electric, of course, esp with high gain). It's then just a matter of whether the string is held off the fret, or squeezed down when you actually want a note.

    Admittedly this technique can slow the left hand down a little, but when you need the kind of speed where the LH needs to let more strings go, no single string is ever released for very long. If you ever need to play a passage where it's impossible to touch any unwanted string briefly with the LH (in case it vibrates), then it ought to be possible to bring the RH in in some way.
    I suspect I've learned to play in a lead style which is at least partly dependent on my LH muting technique - a little restricting, possibly, but guitar always offers many ways of playing the same notes or phrases. If one way is awkward (while covering the muting), then there'll be another. (If I lack shredding speed, that's more down to my RH technique, not my LH.)

    In any case, the occasional sympathetic vibration, if it doesn't go on too long (or too loud) is hardly a real problem. After all, the whole point about "sympathetic" vibration is that string is responding to overtones in the note you're playing - so it's going to be in tune! (If it shares no overtones with the note you're playing, then it won't vibrate in sympathy. If it vibrates anyway, then that has to be down to poor playing technique on your part - ie hitting a "ghost note" by accident, with either hand. Even then, hardly a serious matter. Ghost notes can humanise your playing, add grit ;).)
     
  11. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Interesting - that's actually very close to how I hold the pick, between thumb and middle. That's not because I have any particular interest in tremelo picking at that speed (I use tremelo occasionally, not that much), but simply because it always felt the most natural way to hold it: usually supported by the index on the front edge of the pick, but mainly gripped by tips of thumb and middle. It offers tremendous flexibility in pick angle and attack, in comparison with the so-called "orthodox" grip, which feels very rigid and inhibiting to me. The latter might offer speed advantages in some situations (I can understand that), but its disadvantages outweigh that, for me. (And clearly EVH's speed is not inhibited by his pick grip ;) - perhaps he alters it for other playing styles? I probably would myself...)

    On topic, I think what Grady says about the possible vibrations of other strings being masked is a good point. You can't hear any - but maybe you would if he suddenly stopped playing. But then he could mute the strings with either hand! (In that clip, he drops his RH to the bridge towards the end of the passage (around 0:17).)
    And also, he probably has a noise gate in his rig, which prevents any sound below a certain threshold being heard - and that means unwanted string vibration when he's not playing. When he is playing, the sound of what he's playing covers anything else.
     
  12. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    I don't play that way myself, but that middle finger pick grip would give some interesting pick angles.

    I've sen EVH use his index finger and his middle finger and both together, probably to get certain pick angles like you said.
     
  13. gennation

    gennation Member

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    That is ONLY used when he tremolo picks ON THE HIGH E STRING. But the way he plays everything else uses tons of left and right hand muting with the thumb over the top of the fretboard.

    The style the OP is talking about is completely different than this one small aspect of EVH playing.
     

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