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I've been practising a piece that plays the open A-string followed by the E-string at the first fret. Normally I would just mute the A string whilst fretting the next note, but because it's only at the first fret, it's not muting properly.

So, my question: is this likely to be a problem with my left-hand muting technique, should I be muting strings in these cases with my right hand as well, or maybe the problem is even the setup on the bass?

Thanks muchly!

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Bass muting often isn't simple - it helps to have more than one trick.

In this case I would try various combinations of

  • trying to mute the A string a bit with the finger that I'm using to fret the F
  • stretching out my little ('pinky') finger to mute the A string further down the string
  • using a finger on the right hand to mute the A string.

As you guessed, using right-hand muting is going to give you much more 'muting power' than left hand alone.

There's not much you can do with conventional bass setup to allow open strings to ring and also help muting, but if you always want to err on the side of muting, you can use tricks like putting a bit of foam under the strings near the bridge - or something like these specialised string mutes.

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    Thanks. That's what I suspected, but it's nice to know I wasn't missing anything obvious! – 16shells May 27 '18 at 9:37
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When you say it's so high up the fretboard, I guess you mean the string's action is too high. In itself, that shouldn't be a problem for l.h. muting, but it's not a bad idea to get both hands involved in muting.

A player I know evolved a personal way to mute, on 5 string, where very string was muted except the string being played. It was pretty complicated, but after all the time he practised it, it worked - for him.

I play bass a lot, and often find I don't mute anything, and the playing is still clean. I suppose by being careful releasing a fretted note, so not allowing that string to ping, there's not a great need. But being able to stop stray strings sounding (alliteration!) with either and sometimes both hands is a good thing.

  • I assumed that 'high up the fretboard' here meant 'near the nut'. – topo Reinstate Monica May 27 '18 at 9:37
  • @topomorto - generally speaking, most will say 'high' to mean the dusty end of the fingerboard, but here, that couldn't be the case, so I assumed 'high' action. But you're probably right, and the OP means the 'lower' frets. – Tim May 27 '18 at 9:44
  • Yes, sorry: 'near the nut'. I've edited the q for clarification. – 16shells May 27 '18 at 10:00

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