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What is this device strapped around the nut of the guitar in this image?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

It is a string damper - it stops open strings ringing. This can be very useful for a range of playing styles.

I tend to use a handkerchief tucked under the strings for some Satriani-style tapping melodies, as it allows me to use two hands at speed up the neck of the guitar without having to damp every note.

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May I extend this saying the damper is used heavily when sweep picking as it mutes out the previous strings, stopping them ringing out. – Corey Ford Nov 3 '13 at 20:56
Interesting. I'm trying to perfect my sweep picking and hadn't thought of this. – Dr Mayhem Nov 3 '13 at 21:35
Mark J. Smith uses a plain old black sock in his bass tapping lessons, which looks hilarious around the end of his slick Ibanez bass. – Bradd Szonye Nov 18 '14 at 19:23

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