Suppose you have to play 0020 in G string. How can one stop the open G from ringing when one tries to play G on the 2nd fret?

And what if I have to change strings? Like, I have to play B string 10 then G string 0020. in B last is open and G first 2 are open. Or the following Beat It tabs:

e --------------------|--------------------------

B --------------------|--------------------------

G --------------------|--------------------------

D -------5-2-4-2-0-0--|-------5-2-4-2-0----------

A -----2--------------|-----2--------------------

E -0-3----------------|-0-3----------------------

After open D string 2 times, I have to go to the open E string, so how am I to mute the sound of the open D string?

3 Answers 3


There are several ways that you can stop a note from ringing out; you can:

  • Lift the finger that's fretting the note, but keep it on the string to mute it.
  • Keep the finger that's fretting the note pressed down, but put another finger on the string, without pressing down, to mute it (also for open strings).
  • If your next note is on an adjacent string, put down the finger to fret it in such a way that the finger mutes the current string.
  • Put a finger of your picking hand (or the plectrum) on the string to mute it.
  • If your next note is on an adjacent string, touch the current string with a finger as part of the picking motion.
  • Press the side of your picking hand down on the strings to mute them.

Which technique you use at any one time depends on the specific position of your fretting hand and the way you're strumming or picking, and also on what the next note or chord will be.

If the next note to be played is on the same string that is currently ringing out, then placing the finger to fret a higher note or removing the finger that is fretting the current note will stop the current note. However, if you do this too quickly or with too much force, it may create a "hammer-on" or "pull-off" effect, and the new note will already sound before you've picked the string. To avoid this, either change the fretting position right before picking the new note, or place/remove the finger more slowly and gently so that it first mutes the string.

Stopping notes and muting unused strings is as much part of playing guitar as the notes you're actually picking, and even more so when playing amplified. Often you will be using a combination of techniques. So try to practice different ways of muting, because they will all be useful at some point.

  • All of this is difficult to explain in words, and much easier to demonstrate. If you don't have a teacher or a friend who's a more advanced guitar player, look for video tutorials on youtube. Apr 19, 2019 at 21:47

For all this stuff, you have several solutions:

  • with the palm of your right hand (the flesh at the very bottom of your thumb, or the opposite side — the heel pad),

  • or with one free finger of your left hand (but mind not to produce an harmonic note). You put very slightly a free finger on the string so it stops to ring.

  • if you want to mute several strings at once with the left hand, you lie a free finger on these strings.

It's hard at the beginning. Trust in work.

  • 1
    Palm muting is often done using the flesh at the opposite side to your thumb - the section of hand that might be used in a karate chop. Especially if one uses a pick.
    – Tim
    Apr 19, 2019 at 7:03
  • 1
    You're right, @Tim. Added. Can I name it "the slice of the hand"?
    – user59242
    Apr 19, 2019 at 7:09
  • 1
    @PhilippePerret, I think you want to use the phrase "heel of the hand" or "heel pad" Apr 19, 2019 at 16:03
  • @MichaelCurtis - I did a bit of homework, and could't find the exact term for that part of our anatomy. Heel is as close as it gets, but that seems to include the base of the thumb as well as the part mostly used. There must be a name! Humans name everything! So is 'palm-muting' a bit of a misnomer?
    – Tim
    Apr 22, 2019 at 16:34
  • @Tim, yeah, even though I know the name, finding online pictures with both sides label is a coming up short. The only one I found is the site about golf grip longestshotclub.com/grip-putter-like-pro, heel pad/thumb pad. Tennis grip brings up 'heel pad' paired with 'index knuckle', ugh! Apr 22, 2019 at 17:10

Other answers are very good, but there's one other option: let it ring. This depends on the specific notes and harmonies involved, but with your example of Beat it the D fills the role of a flattened 7th in the E minor tonality and it sounds just fine to let it ring.

  • 1
    I never even looked at the example close enough to recognize it :-) Apr 19, 2019 at 21:13
  • OTOH, if I were to play Beat It, I'd probably use percussive right-hand muting to add more beat. Lol. But I thought all the various options should be represented. Apr 19, 2019 at 21:53
  • I am learning from udemy.. and for the songs like these muting of open strings is not explained. Thanks I will practice more to get comfortable with the techniques explained above. Apr 20, 2019 at 14:41
  • 1
    From the harmonic poit of view, that's ok. But the rithm of the riff begs for some muting. Not only on the final D, but also before the F# and between the last two E E in the measure.
    – leonbloy
    Apr 22, 2019 at 22:43
  • @leonbloy Agreed. Shortly after writing this answer I tried playing it, and I like the way it sounds with a hard chukka-chukka muted strum added close to whether the snare drum should be. And pushing that first note early makes it hang really fat, too. But I still think this answer is a useful idea, esp. for a beginner to begin making decisions based on the sound. But I'm not against muting at all. It's the other half of the music, after all. :) Apr 23, 2019 at 1:56

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