I'm having trouble understanding a tab I'm trying to learn.

E |---------------------------------------------------------|
B |---------------------------------------------------------|
G |--11----11----11---11----11------------------------------|
D |--9-----9-----9-----9----9-------------------------------|
A |--x-----x-----x-----x----x-------------------------------|
E |--7-----7-----7-----7----7-------------------------------|

What I don't understand are the dead notes mixed in with the notes. I see this pretty often and when I try to play it, it feels wrong, like i'm going against what i've learned by having one dead note with the other clearer notes. Am I doing something wrong or is this just normal?

2 Answers 2


Chords with dead note are a common part of plectrum based guitar playing (but not so much with fingerstyle.

Hendrix himself, instead of playing barre chords, would wrap his thumb over top of the neck and play the following shape


enter image description here

Now, I'm not saying that you should use that chord shape, it really depends on the shape of your hand, for a lot of people it isn't comfortable.

My point is though, when have you ever listened to a hendrix record and though "man, those muted notes really sound bad"? By including muted strings in your chords, it actually opens you up to playing a set of chord voicings that would otherwise be impossible. And you really don't notice the muted note in the sound if muted correctly.

A chord like:


would be impossible without playing muted notes, and that would be a real shame.

And if you think "but won't that have a really harsh, aggressive sound?", listen to wes montgomery playing in octaves (as many muted notes as played ones!):


The problem with guitar is that when several adjacent strings are strummed together, it's difficult not to hit all of them. There are, in some cases, a string for which no note can be fretted to sound good with the rest. Therefore, it needs to be muted, by a finger already on an adjacent string that is being played. Thus, the x means do not let this particular string sound.

Although in this case, the 5th string could be fretted at 9, to produce an octave lower than the 3rd string note. Probably the tab writer just didn't want that note in the chord, a B5.

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