I'm trying to play the intro to The Strokes - Heart in a Cage. Valensi uses quite a bit of drive in it so it's very difficult to get clean notes at that speed. I use two fingers of my left hand to press and release strings in a way that when I strum the string I want, I kind of mute the string that was strummed just before so I don't get a buzz. This, however, seems to be quite difficult to do at a high tempo, so I was wondering if there are other techniques to achieve this.

Link to song on youtube Heart in a Cage

2 Answers 2


Work on your double stop technique. Double stops are 2 note fragments of chords that are either played together or arpeggiated.

That's a very simple intro that sounds hard. It just takes practice.

He's sliding around with 2 note and maybe 3 note chord fragments in a few places.

Check out this link or this link for some basic info. You can also do a simple google search and turn up a bunch or material.

Note that a lot of people consider this a country music thing. Its not, but there are tons of examples/lessons out there that teach it in a country context so don't ignore it. Vince Gill is a damn good guitar player and double stops are a big part of his playing.

edit: Also note that some people call them multi-stops when there are more than 2 notes involved.

  • The tab for this song is available at ultimateguitar.com as well. Mar 26, 2011 at 0:34
  • I'm not sure if we're on the same page here, double stop is something like a two note chord, which is nowhere near what's played in the intro of this song, Valensi is alternate picking two strings, one at a time.
    – Anonymous
    Mar 26, 2011 at 21:50
  • @eagerMoose: Double stops are 2 note fragments of chords that are either played together or arpeggiated. Did you look at any of the links?
    – Anonymous
    Mar 28, 2011 at 17:53
  • @JimR are you suggesting that I keep the two frets pressed all the time and keep strumming back and forth? Because if so, that's exactly what's producing a buzzing and unclean sound in this particular song, due to the drive being used.
    – Anonymous
    Mar 29, 2011 at 8:15
  • @eagerMoose: I suggested you look at the links because the song you've linked has a combination of double stops, muting and sliding. If you work on those 3 things and get more accurate the speed will come. Start with the basics, play it slow and speed up as you can and you will eventually get it. Also, in the interest of being more clear... Here is a definition for arpeggiated. From wikipedia: In music, an arpeggio is Italian for broken chord where the notes are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than ringing out simultaneously.
    – Anonymous
    Mar 30, 2011 at 20:40

The way to do this is to mute with your left hand. What you want to do is lift the finger that just played a note off the fretboard but not off the string. This will cause the note to die immediately. It's almost like doing a trill but not completing the pull off. The technique is not super easy to learn, since there's not a lot of room between touching the fretboard and not touching the string at all, but it's very useful to learn. Once you've figured that out, for this tune, he's just alternating which finger he's pushing down and which one he's picking up while alternate picking with the right hand.

It sounds like you may already be doing this. If so, you just need to practice your technique so you can speed it up.

  • thanks, that's what I was doing already, just thought there was maybe an easier way :)
    – Anonymous
    Mar 28, 2011 at 20:47
  • @eagerMoose, I'm afraid not. You'll just have to practice to get your speed up.
    – yossarian
    Mar 28, 2011 at 20:55

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