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I'm a fairly novice self taught player. I'm having a lot of difficulty eliminating things like unwanted strings resonating, clattering in to other strings when bending, accidental pull offs, etc - in short, sloppiness. My natural self taught technique makes all of this pretty much inevitable and caused an end to me making progress a long time ago, so I've tried to learn "proper form".

Seems most people say that's something like classical playing, where the finger is end on, and the thumb is behind the neck, roughly at the middle finger mark, etc.

Others say you should let your index finger lay on the lower strings, even when the index isn't the one doing the fretting, so as to mute the string above where you're playing, and everything below it. Here's a demonstration.

The second is much better at eliminating unwanted string clatter and resonance, but is pretty difficult for me. It also seems like if I wanted to hammer-on, pull-off, bend, and especially vibrato, it's always going to be pretty awkward in this position. Getting from this position to the classical finger-tip-on requires a "hop", which causes sounds, and is slow.

I haven't practised it hardly at all yet, so I'd just like to ask if this isn't a stupid thing to be practising, and that there isn't some other better way before I spend a long time making this feel natural.

  • I am muting at least one string with my fretting hand almost 100% of the time I'm playing. Also there is another hand position that gets used a lot: thumb over the top. See Jimi Hendrix for a good example of this style. A bonus is you can mute and fret with your thumb. – Todd Wilcox Sep 9 '15 at 3:34
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The answer to your question really depends on what type of playing and style you are aiming for. If you are playing classical guitar then the more vertical alignment of finger tips and thumb are appropriate. In classical you are typically playing notes on all 6 strings in a short period of time and might even have a bass line and melody line going at the same time. And speed is less important than accurately hitting each individual melody note.

With lead guitar playing or soloing, you are often playing faster using only two or three strings in a measure and using bends and hammer ons and pull offs. With this type fast soloing, the technique shown in the video are very appropriate and useful.

So if you want to play lead guitar and solo during lead breaks or play fills to accompany the rhythm instruments, then it would be helpful to learn to use the index finger to mute strings that are not to be played. The technique demonstrated in the video would be particularly useful in fast lead runs using a pick where it might be easy to accidentally hit a non target string with your pick.

For classical playing where the guitar is the primary or perhaps solo instrument, you will likely be finger picking and not as likely to accidentally strike unintended strings.

So if you want to learn to play fast lead runs and guitar solos to spice up an arrangement, then the index finger muting technique (where the index finger lightly touches the strings adjacent to the target string) could prove very useful.

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