I recently heard about scales, I am trying to learn them. The fingers of my fretting hand are touching other strings while playing notes. In scales we play one note at a time right?

So while playing notes I am muting other strings(which i am not playing anyway) by mistake, so will there be any side effects if I learn scales this way?

If there are any side effects then please give me some tips to play scales properly.

  • You will eventually get to where this does not happen. Your fretting hand should only touch the strings that you intend it to. But don't get discouraged. Practice will make this much easier. Eventually it becomes subconscious.
    – Dylan
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 17:51
  • 2
    @Dylan Really? I thought pros very often use their left hand fingers to mute strings while playing. It's considered good practice, not bad. But it does depend on the genre. All that really matters is what you hear.
    – user91988
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 18:21
  • 4
    Notice that I said "only touch the strings that you intend to". Pros intend to touch those strings to mute them. Are you doing it intentionally? Or because you lack the finger strength that exercise brings?
    – Dylan
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 19:32

4 Answers 4


As long as the note you are intending to play is sounding clearly, this is not a problem. In fact, using your extra left-hand fingers to mute certain strings is a common technique on guitar, both when playing scales and chords.

  • i am not using any extra left hand fingers,the same fingers with which i play notes is touching other strings,is this ok?
    – Ravi
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 15:55
  • Yes, this is still ok, as long as the intended note is ringing clearly.
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 16:16

You are probably performing the rest stroke, otherwise known as apoyando, where you pluck a string and the finger or thumb continue in the same direction until it comes to rest on the adjacent string. It's a very common way to pluck , certainly on classical guitar, and is not a problem at all.

Being able to mute strings, with either hand/thumb/fingers is not a bad thing to be able to do, not so much on classical guitars, but on overdriven electrics especially, where unwanted open string vibration can become a nightmare. And that includes any of the strings - not just adjacent ones.

EDIT: with extra information...If your left hand fingers are touching other strings, it's no problem either, unless they're inadvertently touching in a way that makes them vibrate. merely touching isn't going to be a problem, in fact, with other playing, apart from scales, it's sometimes needed to press two (or more) strings with one finger. As long as the note you intend to play comes out clear, carry on.

Keep doing it, and it won't give any grief, unless while doing it, you run out of fingers for the next note!

  • 1
    sorry to confuse you, but here i am talking about my left hand(fretting hand)
    – Ravi
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 16:15

Are you playing classical or electric? Many guitarists play with the fingers "sort of" flat rather than on the tip. I used to and sometimes still do. It really depends on the situation. If you are playing an electric with a hot set up you may want, and need, to mute the other strings as the sound will get amplified and feed back making the overall sound a mess. On the classical the standard way to play is on the end or tip of the finger, with the fingers kind of "square". On the tip means close to the nail not on the finger pad which for some people can have a fleshy tip. One reason for this is that it is customary to let the open strings resonate to create a more full reverb type sound. The sympathetic resonances help amplify the guitar overall. A small amount of touching the next string is not too bad as there are other strings that can resonate. But if you are just fingering 2 or 3 strings at once then you do have an issue with accuracy and need to work at it. As far as technique goes.

If you are playing a straight scale one note at a time the little bit of touching you mention is not much of a concern as long as you don't hear any buzzing or scraping. However, at some point you may encounter scale runs in a classical guitar piece where you need to play consecutive notes on neighboring strings quickly. You may even encounter a passage where the music tells you to hold a finger down as a drone note while you play other on the neighboring string. In these cases you will run into trouble. It helps to try and practice scales in such a way that you do not touch strings you do not intend to just to prepare for this situation. With some practice it should not be hard.


I have been asking myself the exact same question as you.

I study classical guitar, and I first played scales by accidentally touching the other strings. Like other people said, this did not alter how the scales sound, so there was no apparent, immediate need to avoid touching the neighboring strings.

However, I later started to practice other Etudes from my method book, where not touching the neighboring strings became strictly necessary to produce the correct notes and chords. This is particularly clear in arpeggios where, if one touched the neighboring strings, one would mute some notes, and thus get the piece wrong. In order to correct this problem, I had to pay special attention to the guitar position, left-hand position, and to the way in which the tip of fingers is placed on the fretboard, which, I hope, will improve my overall technique.

So I went back to all my previous studies, including scales, and re-practiced them so as to avoid touching the neighboring strings. So my hope is that this is an exercise that will pay off in the long run!

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