I couldn't seem to find this existing question, although it may be somewhere boiled into a two-hand tapping question somewhere else.

I come from electric bass and the Victor Wooten style of two-hand tapping. In his method, he uses a hair scrunchie to mute the strings on the other side of the tap. To explain what I mean, fret a string at the twelfth fret and then pluck either side of the string. Then note that both tones ring out when you tap that fret percussively.

I used a similar method on bass, but the problem was this also mutes open strings. I've noted that Antoine DuFour uses a handkerchief which is tied under the strings immediately behind the nut, which he has claimed helps with this, but I've got a suspicion there is another technique or process that you need to perform to mute the strings on the other side of where you are stopping them with either hand.

I have this problem the most on the acoustic guitar, as with electric instruments the pickup is only really working towards magnifying whatever frequency is happening on that side of your hand. On the acoustic, the other pitch very clearly rings out, and I haven't found a way to mute that or get rid of it.

Is there perhaps a type of string material, or some kind of action setting to help with this? Are there videos where people talk about this? I can't seem to find any.

Thanks for any input.

  • 2
    I was friends with Victor Wooten many years ago, and let me tell you, that guy helped sell a lot of hair scrunchies to bass players. He should have gotten a product endorsement out of it.
    – user1044
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 14:08
  • @WheatWilliams ha! You totally made my day. : ) I met him after the show a few times, super nice guy!
    – NateDSaint
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 14:48
  • you can read the PDF at this link. goo.gl/xk1r4
    – user1044
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 1:19

4 Answers 4


Depending on the type of tapping I use three mechanisms -

  • For your Joe Satriani style tapping where you are using no open strings, I pop a handkerchief in at my first or second fret or thereabouts. This kills pretty much everything from that end of the string.

  • On an electric guitar I also use a noise gate just to increase the level needed to be audible.

  • If I am tapping but may also sound from open strings I use the side of my left hand quite extensively, and for certain passages I bring my right hand over to the nut side of my left hand to damp a specific string as I tap with my left hand.

  • I apologize for taking so long to choose an answer, but I was really busy and then just forgot. My bad! But this seemed to be the most varied and give the most options of the answers. I've upvoted everyone for their answers. Thanks all!
    – NateDSaint
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 14:36
  • youtube.com/… Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 14:25

Mechanically, I can think of two options:

  • Put a damper on the fingerboard between the nut and first fret that is so precisely located that the string only contacts it when it is being fretted, but not when open.
  • Invent a new type of fret that has some kind of damping material on the nut side of each fret so that the string only vibrates on the bottom side.

Both of these are probably practically impossible due to the standards of modern string action and the physical properties of a vibrating length of string.

The hair scrunchie (or Michael Angelo Batio's string dampener) are really the only practical options that I know of. In regard to playing open strings, Wooten's approach is to either pay farther up the neck so they aren't necessary or to quickly push the scrunchie back over the nut whenever he needs those notes (something more easily accomplished with a scrunchie than the MAB String Dampener).

  • It was Greg Howe who sold me on using a scrunchie. He usually plays an orange guitar (about the color of the "Add Comment" button) and has an orange scrunchie, to match. Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 14:46

I was introduced to using a hair band by one of Andy James videos at licklibrary.com. Simply pull over nut of the guitar onto the first fret. Once installed it's easy to add and remove just by sliding it from the top of the neck onto the first fret. It's softly dampens / mutes the open strings but if you intentionally want to play an open note it will still sound.

  • 1
    which hair band do you use? I tried many of my sister's and they are just too big for the neck.. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 13:30
  • I use something similar to these on the top left: asia.ru/images/target/photo/51633339/Hair_Band_Set.jpg
    – DaveHogan
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 17:25
  • these seems like the popular ones.. I just can't find where to buy them (seems odd, doesn't it..) Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 18:40

I haven't tried these yet, but I'm wondering whether they'll fit the bill: Goody Ouchless Tiny Terry Ponytaile (42 ct):


I am guessing on the sizing (diameter, width), based on the examples shown at 3:05 in this instructional YT vid:

Your thoughts?

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