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I started asking this about string bends but decided the problem is broader - I need advice on right hand muting in general.

I've been trying to pay a lot closer attention to my tone overall. One thing I've noticed is my string bends aren't clean. Often with a bend of a full tone or more I have real trouble terminating the note without it dropping in pitch just at the end.

I realized I've never learned decent right/picking hand muting skills. I've tried practicing and googling but found nothing that works. I can mute the strings but not as part of a smooth motion that leads to another note being played at the same moment.

It may in part be because my guitar has a volume knob right where my hand wants to be for picking (Ibenez Talman TC220 - electric, not later acoustic talman line). Then again, it may have nothing to do with the guitar.

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    In my opinion this sounds more like a left hand issue (assuming you play guitar right-handed). I do a lot more muting with my left hand, especially during single notes and bends, and only really use my right hand for keeping the lower strings from ringing when playing on higher ones. As far as note termination after a bend, for me the best way it to just lift off the string slightly with my left hand. youtube.com/watch?v=gWTPOLbr1Io – Charles Sep 24 '14 at 22:02
  • Thanks Charles. I think you're right after watching the video - the left/fretting hand is the problem. The video doesn't cover my exact issue though. When I haven't found a way to mute the string right at the moment I release it without the pitch dropping a little just as release it. I can't seem to get the string off the fret without either the pitch dropping a tad or the string snapping back as it slips off my finger. Hope this makes sense. – fitzhugh Sep 24 '14 at 23:25
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    The simple way would be to release the bend before ending the note, but you might not always want to do that. Otherwise the best advice I can give is to just lift your finger off the string vertically (perpendicular to the fretboard), so the string doesn't detune before the note is muted. Don't let the string "un-bend" until it stops ringing. When I do it, I roll my finger a bit to get it almost under the string to lift the string off the fret and kill the note.. It's hard to describe over text. It might help to watch some more bending videos. This becomes more natural with a lot of practice. – Charles Sep 25 '14 at 0:23
  • @Charles: I think you should turn your comments into an answer to this question. – Meaningful Username Sep 25 '14 at 10:40
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I'll repeat some of what I mentioned in the comments but I'll elaborate a bit as I have more space here.

In my opinion this sounds more like a left hand issue. I do a lot more muting with my left hand, especially during single notes and bends, and only really use my right hand for keeping the lower strings from ringing when playing on the higher strings. Left hand muting really contributes to a better overall sound, especially through an amplified guitar. You need to practice it a lot because electric guitars love to make noise, even when you don't necessarily want them to, so you have to always be aware of what the strings are doing (even the ones you aren't playing). This is done with both hands, but in the beginning I would focus on your left hand muting technique first and really get that down, because that's where the notes are starting and stopping for the most part.

The simple solution for you would be to release the bend before ending the note-- un-bend to the original note then lift your finger. This is a lot easier to do cleanly, especially when you are first learning bending.

There are times though where you will want to release the note at the height of the bend. For this case the best advice I can give is to just lift your finger off the string vertically (perpendicular to the fretboard), so the string doesn't detune before the note is muted. Don't let the string "un-bend" until it stops ringing. When I do it, I sometimes roll my finger back a bit to get it almost under the string to lift the string off the fret and kill the note.. It's hard to describe over text and it's something I only noticed because you asked about how this is normally done. These kinds of things we almost just pick up automatically after a lot of practice. Keep doing the bends, keep working on a clean release, and your hands will probably figure out a way to do it without you having to over-think it too much. It might help to watch some more bending videos to make sure your technique is sound, but more important than that is to just keep playing, this becomes more natural with a lot of practice.

It's also worth noting that a lot of the beauty of bends comes from them not always being "perfect." You seem to be focused on the brief millisecond of release before the note ends, but most listeners probably won't even notice. My orchestra teacher always used to tell me when I was doing vibrato on upright bass that the mind focuses on the highest pitch it hears in a series of small pitch changes, so as long as you are hitting the right note on the peak of the bends, you should be good. With more practice you will get a cleaner sound.

  • I've been practicing after reading your answer and by paying attention to the angle my finger leaves the fretboard I'm getting it most of the time. Practice will make it natural but already I've stopped making such a mess of it. Thank you! Ack, when I try and make a paragraph break it submits - hard not to do that by habit as I type. Anyhow, that is a really helpful answer. Thanks for taking the time to think about it and write it up! Now your highest pitch comment has me wondering about vibrato bends... I'll go see what my ear says. – fitzhugh Sep 25 '14 at 18:17

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