I just started playing electric guitar a few weeks ago, although I have a lot of musical background on other instruments. I'm learning from a book. One thing that is bothering me is I don't understand the proper way to end a note and the book doesn't mention anything about it. For instance, when I play a note on one string and then switch to a note on another string, how am I supposed to stop the sound on the first (order) string?

To give a specific example, this is happening while just playing a melody. For instance, the book has me play Rockin' Robin, and when I switch strings from high E to a D on the B string the E continues to sound. What am I supposed to do to stop the E from sounding after the E quarter note is finished?

1 Answer 1


I would say that's situation dependent. Sometimes you can let the note ring and don't need to silence it. When I need a more staccato note, sometimes I lift my fretting finger just enough that the string no longer sounds (finger still in contact with string, the string just comes up off the fret). There are also situations in which I'll explicitly move a left handed finger to mute the string, or mute it with my right palm or something like that. I go with whatever feels the most natural and relaxed, something that won't hamper my playing or alter my technique. I also try to use a method that fits the feel of the piece I'm trying to learn, as the different techniques will sound different.

In the end, I would caution learning only from a book, and this is one of the reasons. I've certainly picked up a technique or two by reading, and certainly lots of theory, but some books are written with the assumption that they don't need to explain some things. For me, learning to play music is one of those things that benefits greatly from another pair of eyes, another pair of ears, and/or the ability to follow the example of someone more experienced.

That being said, if you let us know what exactly you're playing, someone here might be able to offer a specific suggestion. The answer will differ if you're reading about power chords v. a pentatonic scale.


A quick YouTube search brought up a video in which the guitarist addresses muting the strings. He is muting with his strumming hand in this case. If you're playing something more like the flute melody described in this tab, I would simply mute by lifting my fretting finger slightly, since I'm playing the next note with a different finger.

  • Thanks I added an example to my question. I realize that private lessons would be very beneficial for learnign technique and I planned to take some this summer, I just wanted to get my hands wet and know better what questions I'd have to ask. I guess I'm to that point.
    – deltaray
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 2:16
  • @deltaray i added to my answer but still had to guess...please understand that there are a plethora of possible arrangements for any given song. i didn't find an arrangement that matches your description right off the bat; are you playing an open e string as your first note? more context would help with knowing how the fretting hand should be moving before and after the two notes you mention. Commented May 23, 2015 at 2:47
  • OP is asking how to mute the open E when descending to a fretted D. "lifting the fretting finger" isn't an option in this case. There appears to be at least three options to muting the open E: 1. With an used finger on the fretting hand (the pointer?) 2. With the finger you use to fret the D, using it to lightly touch/mute the E. 3. With the picking hand somehow. But which is the "appropriate" or at least most common technique?
    – John
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 19:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.