I am arranging a piece for a choir, and as a starting point for the bass I am looking at bass-guitar tabs. I figured out how to translate the tabs to staff notation, except muted strings. I do not play bass (or something similar), so I don't really know what exactly it means for the sound to play a string muted, and thus how to translate this to staff notation. Do I just use A if it is the A-string, for example?

  • 1
    You may just notate an x for the muted notes. Oct 15, 2019 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


Playing muted strings is a percussive effect with lots of attack, hardly any sustain, and no clearly discernible pitch (in theory). A section of vocalists could achieve a similar effect by using:

  • plosives (unpitched "T", "K", or "P" sounds)
  • grunting
  • thumping their chests

Be creative.

That said, sometimes the muted string is really more of a really short staccato note, so giving the vocalists a pitch and marking the note staccato or staccatissimo might be a better approximation of what the bass guitar part sounds like. Which pitch? Hmm, probably the same as (one of) the pitch(s) around it.


Muted notes in standard notation are marked by an x like this picture shows: enter image description here



and the choir could sing/articulate these x notes by a toneless t- k

The example would be interpreted:

dum t-k dum t-k dum dum dum dum,

dum t-k dum t-k dum dum dum dum.

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