I have a very basic Ibanez (don't laugh) GRX 55B electric guitar and a much, MUCH more basic Laney LX-10 Amp. If I pick, say, the high E string and then mute it, I can still hear faint ringing of the other strings. Only when I mute them all does it go away. I think it is the other strings resonating along or something, and I am concerned because it is EXTREMELY ANNOYING. It makes my playing sound muddy AS HELL. On clean it sounds perfectly fine, but the problem comes when in overdrive. It gets a bit better if I turn the guitar's volume knob down (not the amp's knob), but that also affects the tone (The tone is better when volume knob is at full).

Possible fixes I have thought of are strap on string muters (which have mixed reviews), or to keep the volume knob low and get a better tone by effect processors or something.

This is a very annoying and disturbing problem and I HAVE to fix it somehow. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

(I'll try to link sound recordings of the problem ASAP)

  • 1
    You need to practise with the guitar volume pot flat out. In overdrive mode, it's not so much a volume control but a distortion level control. With overdrive, harmonics are accentuated greatly, so will set any other undampened strings into sympathetic vibration - which muddies your playing.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


Imagine how much worse the problem is on acoustic guitars, where the body resonates with the string and makes the resonances of the other strings that much louder!

This is the result of physical forces acting inside the guitar, and every guitar is subject to the same physical processes, so your guitar is not broken or anything like that.

The fix is actually to mute all the strings except the one(s) you are playing, all the time, on every note and chord. Most of the muting is usually done with the fretting hand, but you can easily mute lower sounding strings with the picking hand also.

Think about it this way: if you are only playing one note, then you have three extra fingers to mute with. If you are playing four or five strings, then you have to get a bit creative but changing the angles and exact positioning of your fingers can pretty much always mute. Worst case scenario is you bring your picking hand into the mix for muting.

I suggest an exercise where you fret a single note and then strum every string up and down repeatedly. Move your fretting hand around to mute the five strings you're not fretting so that even though you are picking all six strings, you only hear one note. Practice daily on all of the strings.

  • So is such a high level of resonance/ringing normal?
    – Udit Dey
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 14:51
  • 1
    @UditDey Probably. If you play a note, then mute all the strings and you still hear the note, like reverb almost, then that's usually caused by vibrato unit springs inside the body of the guitar resonating. Those can be damped, but every guitarist has to learn to mute with their fretting hand. It's a fundamental technique. Actually, classical and fingerstyle guitarists will do more picking hand muting, but they still do some fretting hand muting. Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 14:54
  • This is a great answer. Every guitarist who plays using an overdriven sound will have encountered this problem. It took me a fair while to learn how to mute all the other strings in loud solos, but it needed doing. My students love it when I say - explain to your family that you need to play certain things loudly, in order to find all the ways necessary to clean up your dirty playing. It really is the only way anyone is going to achieve the ultimate way of playing.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 8:58

Since you say that the clean selection of your amp doesn't produce the problem, I suspect what you're dealing with is the sensitivity and feedback you get when using the over-driven channel.

When using high gain to create tone and distortion in an amp, there is a feedback response that will accentuate resonant frequencies in the guitar.

I would suggest that you don't use the amp's overdrive channel, and look at getting a separate Effect Unit (pedal or rack) to create the over-driven sound and tone. You will especially want to look into one that has a Notch filter (a type of EQ) and possibly a phase inverter.

The notch filter allows you to decrease specific feedback frequencies, letting you make the notes less muddy. A phase inverter is also a way of decreasing feedback.

The advantage of using a separate Effect is that the over-driven tone is created internally in the effect, allowing the distortion without relying on the amp to be over driven. It will give you more control over the response and tone of your instrument, and should let you create the tone you want without the extra response of the strings that you don't want.

  • Do you know a Effect Pedal that has the features you mention above?
    – Udit Dey
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 13:10
  • Their are vary many options, and too many variables to suggest specific hardware. Try starting with a Google shopping search on "guitar distortion and EQ" and read reviews of ones in your price range. Music stores that stock FX will usually let you bring in your guitar and amp to try out the different pedals they have also. Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 19:59
  • Also, for the price some of the single distortion pedals you can get an amp modeling pedal that uses digital processing to create an extremely wide range of effects and sounds. Look for "guitar digital effects processor". I have a Zoom brand one with a built in drum machine that I like using better than a metronome for rhythm practice. Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 20:23

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