5 Bass Muting Technique Fixes (Why Your Playing Sounds Messy)

Without good bass muting technique, the notes you mean to play will get smothered by the rumbling racket of ringing strings.

1:00 - What Is Bass Muting?
1:16 - Sympathetic Vibration Can Destroy You
2:13 - Muting Fix #1: The Thumb Mute
2:42 - Fix #2: The Pull Across
3:43 - Fix #3: The Sneaky Finger
4:05 - “You Give Love A Bad Name” Tutorial
4:40 - “Bad Name” Muting Walkthrough
5:41 - Fretting Hand Muting is Hard
6:01 - Fix #4: The String Sitter
6:59 - Fix #5: The Flat Hand
7:43 - “Bad Name” Muting Revisited
8:56 - The Big Bass Muting Test
9:57 - “Bad Name” Play-along

If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, this lesson would fit anywhere after Module 4, but keep in mind that muting takes a long time to master, especially the fretting hand techniques!

The Five Bass Muting Fixes

For those who prefer a text summary:

Plucking Hand Techniques

  1. The Thumb Mute - use your thumb to cover the E and A strings
  2. The Pull Across - pluck towards the next string down to keep it muted
  3. The Sneaky Finger - sneak in your ring and pinky to cover the E, A, and even D strings

Fretting Hand Techniques

  1. The String Sitter - leave your finger(s) resting on the string between notes
  2. The Flat Hand - flatten out your fretting fingers, especially your index, to keep the high strings covered that you aren’t playing

How did the big muting test go for you at the end?

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Oh wow… this is great. Thanks!

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Good stuff @JoshFossgreen. Thanks!

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Ringing strings… My number one enemy!

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Very good, @JoshFossgreen . . . :+1:

Thanks and thumbs up, Joe

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The floating thumb takes care of the lower strings for me, and I tend to keep my fingers flattened across the fretboard on higher strings, which mutes those for me. This video pretty much reinforces what I’m already doing, albeit I’m still not perfect at muting.

This video has provoked me to practice my muting technique some more

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I didn’t know I want it until I saw the title. Thanks @JoshFossgreen and the bassbuzz team!

@eric.kiser You have something to update!
Also thanks again for doing that. It is an amazing post I often use as reference when practicing!

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Awesome thanks :blush:
Know what I’ll be practicing today :+1:

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Very timely lesson. I’m having some trouble muting the E string during a certain passage I’m working on and I hope I can use this to correct the issue. Thanks @JoshFossgreen!

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Great video! I think I use most of these techniques some times, but I really need to focus on getting to where I’m naturally muting all the time without thinking about it. I’m not sure I use the sneaky fingure at all, I’m don’t remember that one being in the course. I’m not a huge fan of moving my thumb to the A unless it is going to stay there a while, I think getting a pinky on there might be better for me.

Thank you so much for continuing to create content like this and putting it out for free. As a course graduate I love that these standalone videos both remind me of the lessons in the course, which helps me make sure my basics haven’t gotten sloppy, while also giving more advanced stuff to work on to help continuing to advance beyond B2B.

Also, the you give bass a bad name part at the end is hysterical!

Thank you Josh!

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I think it’s mentioned in the slap module in the slap/pop workout that you can try and use middle and ring to mute E/D strings. Can’t fault you for not remembering though because it is just mentioned briefly and the slap module is not everyones thing.

But muting is often more of a side note in the course so I agree that this video is really great and it is nice to have all the information on the topic in one place. In the course you’d have to know where Josh talks about muting because he introduces it as he sees fit during workouts.

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@JoshFossgreen Awesome video. Sometimes it is really good to hear you explain why what you do is a good thing. I struggled a bit on your finger exercises with ringing strings, and your video helped me understand how to think about muting. Instinct is great, but like music theory, it’s often good to know why and how because this helps you figure things out, then instinct and groove can take over later.

A big take away I got from the video is why bassists handle the neck the way they do ( flat fingers). You can always tell when a guitarist picks up a bass. Watching this bass review is an excellent example:

They’ll use a pick or or pluck with their thumb ( and often with the left thumb coming over the top to mute open E) Rick Beatto says he started as a bassist, but he’s a good example of this too; he grips that bass neck like a guitarist. I always wondered why they do this, and thanks to your explanation, I understand why most bassist don’t hold the neck the same way. I know someone will point out the early P-basses had a finger rest for thumb plucking, but that was early on. I’ve seen you use the thumb to pluck as well, but only in the context of cords.

Now I know why the spacing is there with the fretting hand.

Love you videos! They are so entertaining and they give me food for thought so I can work things out. The marks of a great teacher!

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Found this. Muting is an egregious sin according to this video at 4 minutes in:

One thing for a bass player to point this out, another for the other guys to point this out!

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Great tips. The flat hand is going to be a problem for me. I have a hard enough time getting solid tones (no buzz) when I fret with the finger tip (pinky mostly). More finger exercises needed, I guess.

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@dcsidpa If you are struggling, you could try a lighter gauge set of strings (depending on what you are already using). Obviously that will effect your tone as well, but they are easier to hold down.

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According to Sweetwater, they are D’Addario Lights
I have contacted a professional bass player local to me about doing a setup on my bass once this COVID-19 settles down. This may take a while as Arizona is seeing a spike in new cases.

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Love that video :joy:

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@JoshFossgreen great video.
I just returned from an extended vacation and had dropped my bass off for a set-up before hand. I knew my action was high, but I had gotten quite used to it that way. After picking it back up the last two days and playing, I can see how with the lower action, I will be able to increase speed especially in string crossing.
Unfortunately I now have to completely re-learn muting as I am now having string vibrations.
I am frustrated but never defeated and will go back to the beginning modules in the course to review as well as gain my confidence back.
Truly appreciate your dedication and passion.

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Yeah, the buzz is a bummer. I bought my bass used with a low action, and it’s quite sensitive to buzz, especially when I am coming off the fret. I have to come off very quickly or I’ll get “Toooonnnnnnneeee-bzt” and off. I’ve thought about raising the action, but my plan is to try that on my project bass.

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