Muting techniques for plucking

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by rob2001, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Hi guys, i'm a guitar player and i'm looking for some info for my bass player who isn't on line. Can anyone point me to a website that has muting techniques for plucking?
     
  2. torquil

    torquil Member

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    Do you mean the ordinary bass guitar fingerstyle technique, of some kind of guitar style plucking on the bass?

    If it is guitar style plucking, which I have done on 6-string bass to play in the style of classical guitar, then the same method applies to bass as to classical guitar. It is possible to use this technique on bass.

    For ordinary bass fingerstyle using index and middle finger, I would say the following as a start (what I do, Iæm sure other possibilities exist): Use the left hand to mute the strings that are thinner than the one you are playing. Use the right hand thumb to mute the thicker strings that are not being played.

    Btw, after a right hand finger hits the string to play a note, the finger will automatically continue and end up resting against the neighbouring string (thicker), thus keeping it from starting to vibrate. So it is not necessary to rest the right hand thumb on the E-string to mute it while playing the A-string. The alternating index and middle fingers will automatically mute it while playing. The thumb can rest on the top of the pickup if you like. When playing the D-string with the index and middle fingers, I would probably let the thumb rest on the E-string, or between the A and E strings. There are several good alternatives.

    When playing staccato, hit the string with one finger, then mute it immediately afterwards, using the other finger that follows it when alternating between index and middle fingers. E.g. the index finger hits the string and the middle finger follows just after to mute it again. Then alternate, of course.

    I don't know of any websites, but I'm sure there must be several. Did I understand the question? :)

    Torquil
     
  3. torquil

    torquil Member

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  4. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Thanks, yes, he's looking for info on standard finger style bass techniques.I'm hoping to find some written material that I can copy for him. If I remember what he's doing now, his thumb is always anchored on the pickup and he plucks with the index and middle finger. It seems to me its not the surrounding strings he's having trouble with, it's the string he is playing. So i'm just guessing in thinking the middle finger should be doing the muting on the string that was just struck by the index?
     
  5. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    The other old Motown trick was to place a small block of high density foam
    right at the bridge with just enough pressure to dampen the strings.
     
  6. torquil

    torquil Member

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    Yes that is at least how I do it. When I want to play e.g. a series of staccato notes or only every other eighth note on the same string. I'm thinking of stuff like the beginning of "Another on bites the dust" by Queen, where the muting is important to create the correct "groove".

    I let the right-hand finger that will play the next note rest upon the string, and subsequently pluck the string from that position. I.e. don't lift the finger up again before plucking, but just pluck the string directly while already touching the string.

    If that was the e.g. index finger, then the middle finger is next to mute the same string, and rest on the string until plucking it. That technique would mute the string and thereby create the rests in the music.

    This should enable the player to do both staccato notes, or insert any amount of rest in between notes on the same string.

    EDIT: Actually, another thing that is also common to do is to use the left hand to stop the string between each note. For me, the right hand muting works best in most situations, but some may disagree. Btw, both can be used at the same time. And in some situations it is necessary to mute with the left hand, e.g. if the next note is on a completely different string, so there is no middle/index finger to follow the one that already struck the note, because that finger is on its way to a different string :)

    - Torquil
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  7. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    OK, that makes sense....thanks.

    Here's an example of something that's giving him trouble. It's an original song and the bass line is just one pretty fast single note pumping line in the verses.
    It's reminiscent of ZZ Topp's "Just got Paid, at a section of the bass line is. He's doing a double pluck and the timing is right but he's getting all kinds of harmonics and extraneous noise. So i'm not sure if a right hand muting thing even applies with a fast line like this. Maybe this is a job for the left hand? Does Dusty Hill use a bridge mute or maybe roll his tone knob way low?
     
  8. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    LOL! Just read your added info...yes, left hand...I think.......maybe
     
  9. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Lol again.... just read this....do you suppose Dusty Hill used a piece of foam for just got paid?

    Also, Jamerson is his favorite player and he loves that old school Motown thing. Could be on to something here....
     
  10. torquil

    torquil Member

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    Here are some more ideas (some of them quite obvious of course). You have to judge if they are relevant or not :)

    Maybe check if he pushes the string into the frets while plucking, like I believe Steve Harris of Iron Maiden does this intentionally to get his metallic string noises. Either use less finger pressure, or raise the strings, to eliminate it.

    I also play classical guitar, and sometimes I want my nails to be a bit longer on my right hand. When I play bass with too long nails I get a lot of unwanted treble noises while playing. To eliminate it I really have to cut my nails very short.

    If the player doesn't use enough force with the left hand that could lead to noises as well.

    Or maybe there is a problem with the bass guitar, e.g. uneven frets?

    Sorry I don't know anything about Dusty Hills technique on the song.

    - Torquil
     
  11. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    Hey Rob-

    Here's a thread I did about muting a while ago:

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=335302&highlight=mute

    Since then, I've gotten a little bit better about cutting the foam so it doesn't look quite as unwieldy.

    The foam, despite common sense, really changes the tone, it adds a different percussiveness, it adds overtones. On my Jazz, I have to roll the tone all the way down, add some bottom and pull out more highs.

    I've been using a foam mute on the T-Bird for quite some time:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Years ago I got into a heated discussion with someone on TB about how you should learn to mute using your palm for fingerstyle and pick style if applicable. My theory is that if the tone you're trying to approximate was recorded with a bass with a foam mute, use a foam mute- rather than changing your entire technique to use an effect.


    I'm going to be heading up to the WB this weekend- let me know if you want me to chop up a piece of wristpad for you- I can drop it off I'm guessing Sunday...
     
  12. torquil

    torquil Member

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    I would actually like to try something similar on my electric guitar. I was playing with a long sleeved sweater, and noticed the pleasing sitar-like sound when the sleeve contacted the strings. Some guitars come/came equipped with a adjustable bridge damper.

    I just thought of something: does it make single notes sound like they are out of tune with themselves at all if you listen particularly closely to the high frequency content? Imagine that the distance between nodes for the fundamental mode of the string is approximately unaffected (nut to bridge), but is slightly decreased for the highest modes that are strong enough to hear (nut to foam, approximately), because those modes would be more affected by the foam. The effective string length for the higher modes would be a bit shorter, and somewhat "fuzzy", so maybe some "out of tune" effects could be noticeable.

    Of course, this might note even be noticeable.

    - Torquil
     
  13. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Update... We (he) totally nailed the track and this muting thing. A combination of a few things helped. He put flatwounds on the bass (warwick) , we cut a piece of foam from one of those foam paint brushes and tucked it tight to the bridge. These two things really made a huge difference. For the most part it was just this one song that was giving us trouble in recording. I also ran him thru a compressor, a parametric EQ and.........a Boss SD-1!! Gain low, level high all direct into the desk. We got a really commanding bass tone and the bass player (Tony) loves the foam mute.

    It really cut down on extraneous harmonics and he delivered a great bass line. I do think the nodes changed, but for this song a lot of high end content was dialed out with the parametric so if there were issues, they weren't noticeable in this case.

    I checked and set the intonation on the bass and I didn't see a change in intonation. If there was, it didn't affect anything in the recording.

    Very good point about going for an effect with the mute instead of him altering his play. Between the mute and the flatwounds, he's just digging the vibe and thats what iit's all about.

    Thanks for the advice guys, Rob
     

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