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Guitar Noise Podcast #11 – Adding String Muting

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Hello to all!

Let’s continue with examination of percussive rhythmic strumming techniques and move from palm muting to string muting. Just as with our last GN Podcast, our eleventh one will take us from the basic elements of string muting and then work on integrating this new technique into the strumming patterns and techniques we’ve covered thus far.

For the most part, we’ll be focusing on the G chord, throwing in a short G to C to D progression as we gain more confidence in our string muting abilities.

As always, I’ll be walking you step by step through the lesson. And, as always, please let us know what you think.



  1. Little_Tee
    October 11th, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

    Thanks a lot samurai!

  2. samurai
    September 14th, 2010 @ 8:26 am

    Hi Little_Tee,

    “I’m fearing I’d have to place the tip of my index finger against it [the open D string], but find it difficult to accomplish.”

    For what it’s worth, I just “fearlessly” tried what you just wrote. If you finger the G string at the second fret with the last joint of your index finger being perpendicular to the fretboard — à la classical — you will indeed have a hard time lightly touching the open D string without bending the G string!

    One solution is to “cheat”: Use more of the index finger pad to fret the G string, allowing enough for the actual fingertip to touch the D string. In other words, flatten your index just enough so that the very tip can reach the open D string to mute it.

    I personally would much rather use palm muting in this situation: Simply rest the ridge of your strumming hand on the bridge so that it dampens all three lower strings (E, A and D).

    Voilà! No need to deviate from the proper, sacrosanct, textbook way of fretting strings. In fairness, though, what the books and teachers try to impart concerning how to fret strings makes for a solid foundation, appropriate for most situations. It’s just that, after having mastered the “perpendicular” joint position, you should not be afraid to alter it when necessary.

    The same goes for the recommended position of the thumb of your fretting hand, i.e., at the center (width-wise) of the back of the neck, between your major and annular fingers (length-wise). However, this makes bending and vibrato far more difficult, let alone fretting the low E string with your thumb :-)

    Hoping this helps a bit and that any errors on my part will quickly be pointed out and rectified by the experts here!

    A Québécois fan

  3. Little_Tee
    September 13th, 2010 @ 7:15 am

    I started playing the guitar over half a year ago, mostly with the help of a friend and the “songs for beginners section”, the latter I greatly appreciated. When the tabs were (obligatory) removed, I had difficulties following those lessons and discovered this podcast which I like a lot!

    Following the previous posts about string muting open chords I had a question about the open D chord. What do you do with the open D string (that’s still ringing from the unmuted chord) when you want to add a string mute stroke? All the fingers are below the D-string, so I find it difficult. I’m fearing I’d have to place the tip of my index finger against it, but find it difficult to accomplish.

    Any help = welcome.

    A belgian fan.

  4. samurai
    August 8th, 2010 @ 9:42 am

    Hello David,

    First and foremost, many thanks for your ever-lucid reply (which therefore certainly didn’t “muddy things up again!”).

    Now I’m “reassured” that I’m not the only player who uses a combination of string- and palm-muting, depending on the very factors that you mentioned. As you aptly wrote, I/we “[…] shouldn’t rely only on one.”

    That is [un]common sense that I needed to hear from a Master Teacher!

  5. samurai
    August 1st, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    Hi David,

    Many thanks for lending credibility and authority to my reply to Altay! Your first sentence:

    “What Samurai does is pretty much how *most* people go about it.” (Emphasis mine.)

    piqued my interest.

    I am honestly curious about how other people go about string muting. Sorry to impose on you and your busy schedule, but I’d be very grateful if you would kindly provide an alternative example. :-)

    With best regards,

    P.S. Thanks for incorporating my subsequent correction, thus cleaning up the blog entry!

    • David Hodge
      August 8th, 2010 @ 9:20 am

      Hi again, Samurai

      It really depends on a number of things – the chord itself (not to mention those being played before and afterword) as well as the rhythm in the context of the song. Seasoned performers tend to use a combination of both left and right hand muting and they’ve been doing it so long that they themselves don’t always understand the physics of it! They “just play” and it happens.

      It’s truly nothing to worry about as every player will continue to adapt his or her muting techniques to the situation at hand. One just simply needs to know that there are almost always other ways of performing a particular technique and shouldn’t rely only on one.

      Hope this helps (although I suspect I’m merely muddying things up again!)


  6. Altay
    July 30th, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    David and Samurai,

    Thanks alot!

  7. samurai
    July 25th, 2010 @ 10:33 am


    I’m not David by any measure (no pun), but at 23:55 into Podcast #11, David mentions a crucial point: You don’t strum all six strings when doing string muting — or palm muting for that matter.

    Going down, as an example, try strumming only the E, A and D strings. For a G chord, what *I* do, in addition to releasing the pressure on the E (second finger) and A (first finger) strings, is to flatten my first finger just enough for it to touch the D string, effectively muting it.

    For a C chord, since you don’t strum the E string regardless of whether you’re playing or muting it, release the pressure on the A (third finger) and D (second finger) strings. Then, slightly flatten your second finger so it touches (and thus mutes) the G string. You get the idea :-)

    Again, this is just what *I* do and I’ll be happy to stand corrected by David or others if I’m wrong!

    • David Hodge
      July 25th, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

      What Samurai does is pretty much how most people go about it. And he’s right about the importance of not strumming all six strings. Having control of your strumming stroke is vital and the best way to do that is to shorten it. More times than not, you only need to be playing two or three strings when muting. Obviously it depends on the chord and how many (if any) open strings are involved. You can certainly do more, but you’ll have more control if you stick with two or three to start with.

      By the bye – I edited your post for you Samurai, in accordance to the last post you made. Hope that’s okay.

      Be seeing you all around on the Blog and the Forum pages!


  8. Altay
    July 24th, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

    Hi David,

    Thank you very much for a great lesson.

    I wanted to ask how can I mute strings when playing open chords, for example as it was in the podcast G chord or C chord. When barre chords are played adjusting pressure put on strings by index finger does all the job but what to do if I am playing open G chord and middle three strings are not under any fingers so to say. Same about open C chord. Should I try to come up with something like muting two strings with one finger while playing open chords?