There are many different ways and each of those which I know will be described below and followed with a picture. Feel free extend the answer with more solutions YOU know.
Muting the strings with use of external objects:
- You can bend a piece of paper to a certain form to cover the
required amount of strings with it. However it's doesn't work good
for me. It looks something like this.
- You can use any kind of small rag and bend it around the neck (again, you won't be able to use open strings, but it's extremely effective and I love it).
- Best way to target a specific string to mute for me is to use a piece of cotton wool and form it to damp only one or two strings. I use it all the time while recording some annoying moments. In example I damp only the 4th string but you can take a bigger piece and damp 2 or 3 strings.
- You can use a hairband as mentioned above. Top strings (while open) sound very muted but bottom 6th and 5th strings sound cool while chugging. So it might be your perfect choice.
Muting the strings using different techniques:
- Palm muting is the most popular and commonly used technique. It is done by resting the palm of your right hand on the strings in different ways. Palm muting heavily depends on how you hold the pick meaning that the most effecting palm muting on all strings can be accomplished when your hand is in open position holding the pick like this:
compared to close position like this:
even though it looks like it does the job same it actually doesn't mute 3rd 2nd and 1st strings and even often doesn't mute the 4th string. However depends on personal choice.
- Muting separate or adjacent strings with your fingers. It works best while playing fingerpicking without thumb pick (however is possible while wearing thumb pick too). It can be also used while playing with pick but it's not comfortable (for me, however I use it sometimes).
Example 1: No thumb pick, bottom 3 strings (6th, 5th and 4th) are muted with thumb, 1st string is muted with ring finger, 3rd and 2nd strings are available for playing with index and middle fingers.
Example 2: With use of thumb pick I block 6th and 5th string with the side of my thumb and also block top 2 strings with my fingers. 4th and 3rd strings are playable.
Example 3: Using a pick (plectrum) I block 6th and 5th strings with my thumb and block all strings except 4th with my fingers. Only 4th string is playable.
I usually use these techniques when playing slide guitar because slide makes a lot of noises and left hand muting doesn't help, but we'll talk about it later.
- Left hand muting is also a solution when you need to stop the strings from ringing. You can use this method to mute strings while you play normally (tapping methods are mentioned below). Principle is the same in all cases and genres (Blues, Rock, Metal) and while playing any figures (slide, riffs, chugs, chords (but be careful not to kill the sound of a chord off-time)).
- Providing an image for this method would be stupid AF because everybody knows how to do this. You can mute a specific string/range of strings but lightly resting your finger over it/them.
- While tapping on high strings you can mute bottom strings with your arm. If you're tapping on, let's say 2nd string you can lightly rest your left hand finger (if there are no left hand position shifts in this phrase) on the first string to minimize the chance of hitting it (even if you do it would be dead). Unfortunately this doesn't work for tapping on bottom strings, so either use other methods from block 1. Muting the strings with use of external objects or develop your accuracy.
Muting the strings using effects and electronics
- You can decrease your string noise by constantly cutting a specific frequency range (I can't tell which exactly as it differs depending on sound meaning that the most noise-occupied frequency range will be different for clean and distorted sounds) however bare in mind that open string noise usually spreads around the whole frequency range and the best you can try to do is to find the most "harsh" spot of it. Also be careful to no to kill the attack and sweet spots which make your guitar track shine through the mix.
- Don't hesitate on adding nice small amount of reverb because it softens all kinds of noises. But don't overshoot. You don't want to go all Black Metal with neat and comfy caves, don't you?
- Compressor and transient shaper might help to bring out punch (if set correctly) and noise will become less hearable.
- Use other transient shaping plugins that can manipulate attack and decay of played notes. For me it will be Enveloper in Logic Pro X.
- Don't worry right off the bat! If you mix it right with other instruments your noise will be lost in mix. As final result it will sound great!
- Write here something about noise reduction pedals. I never used them and I understand nothing in them.