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Video Lesson from MusicRadar

Text from video:

Hi there guys, this is Ben Jones from the Institute here as part of the Bass Expo for Music Radar. We’ve had a little look at exercises for warm ups and also creating some interesting lines as well using those. The next thing I want to talk to you about is an issue that a lot of bass players have and they don’t address it very often and it really does come up in their playing later on and if you can address it early when you’re a beginner or you’ve only been playing for a short period of time it will really help you as you develop into a player. And that’s the idea of muting. So what is muting? Well muting is basically where you stop one string ringing underneath another.

If you hear this…it’s a pretty horrible sound. Now if I wanted to play for example an open G string, followed by an open D string. I don’t want to hear, that, I don’t want to hear them ringing together even though that actually sounds ok that’s not the idea. So what we’re going to look at is ways, and it can come in 2 parts, you can mute with your left and you can mute with your right.

It’s easier to mute with your left but we’re going discuss some techniques for the right hand that will hopefully help you at home.

So we’re going to take a very simple line, we’re going to play; 2nd fret on the D string, up to 4th fret on the G string. It’s going to go. Ok? Just a really simple. We’re going to move that up 2 frets to 4th and then the next note will be the 6th, above that. So it’s going to go. Now, what we don’t want to hear is this. Hopefully you guys can hear that at home, those 2 strings are ringing together. So let’s address the left hand muting first. The great thing about playing a string instrument is that obviously as soon as you touch this string it’s vibrating at the moment you kill the sound completely and what we’re going to do is we’re going to focus on the ability to play a note release the pressure ie by letting the finger off and then you can’t get a note anymore.

So if I was just playing a simple sort of…8th note pattern I can mute and stop the note just by taking my finger off, obviously you don’t want that dead note in there but the principle is still the same, you get the note and then lose it by releasing the pressure.

1st note is 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the D string. Then we’re going to reach up for that 4th fret with our, probably our little finger on the G string. So, we play that note, we then release the pressure, play the next note, release the little finger this time and then play the 1st note again. So you get…and hopefully there you can see the pressure actually in my hand changing. And then up, and then back. Ok, so that’s the left hand and that can obviously can be put through any shape, it doesn’t really matter.

What we’re looking to do though is release the pressure off the fingers just like that, now of course if you go, hopefully you all heard that. You hear what’s called a pull off, which basically means I’m actually getting that note which is an open D, we don’t want that, that will start to bleed into lines and it’s not going to help you, so just taking it off just enough so the string stops moving, is an effective way of muting, ok? Now lets talk about the right hand, because right hand muting is very very important.

Obviously we’re just concerned with these 2 strings here; D and G, the E and the A for now in this exercise aren’t going to be used. So what I’m going to do is we hit the 1st finger, the 2nd finger, this is still vibrating, even though it’s, hopefully you can see that there and then when I play this next one, my 2nd finger, I land on the D string and because of that it stops this note from ringing out any longer so you get… But this can’t ring anymore because my finger has already landed on it and that way we don’t get this bleeding effect.

So it’s a really effective use of 2 hands to make a much cleaner sound and especially if any of you are going to be doing any recording in the future muting is a huge issue you don’t want to have all this noise going on in the background when you’re recording on things.

So it’s a really important thing for you to do and just remember the 2 ideas that we’ve used, pressure being taking off the strings, with your fretting hand or your left hand, or, depending on if you’re a right or left handed. Then pulling through to land on the string below in your plucking hand and those 2 should give you a much cleaner tone that will help you in any style of music that you want to play..