Mutate with plucking hand

Hello everybody,
I started playing systematically bass the last 2.5 yrs. In this context I developed a way to mutate E and A strings by using my plucking pinky finger (right hand) to the E string from downside while my thumb rested on A so to pluck D and G with index and middle finger . I sticked with this way of playing to eliminate sympathetic vibration as everyone had to deal I guess.

The question is that if this is an acceptable way to mutate or I just inherit a bad habit that I should put an effort to change?

I tried to mutate with thumb only by resting on A and touch E when play D and G but found extremely difficult to play, with disaster results. The way I’m playing now I manage to achieve a clean and accurate tone but I really wondering if this is an outcome of wrong playing method.

Appreciate all answers in advanced!

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Welcome @dyereve, glad you are here.
Hop over to the Introduce Yourself! thread and say hi to all.

On your muting question, I do this sometimes as well rather unconsiously.
Might not be the best technique, but if it works…

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Can you post a video of what your doing? It would be easier to talk about if we can see it.

This is fine. I mute all the time with my plucking hand pinky. Works great!

Josh talks about it in a recent video as well.

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I don’t know the technique that you were using with your plucking thumb to mute that was causing difficulty. Perhaps you could give a little more detail about that?

The best way to mute is to mute the lower strings by using your plucking thumb pointed downwards to lightly touch the strings. Avoid resting your thumb on the E string because your plucking thumb needs to be mobile travelling up and down depending on what strings you’re plucking. Mute the higher strings with your fretting hand with your 1st finger pointed upwards.

I think you’ll find it easier to do in the long term. Because you’re changing a habit, it will feel weird and unnatural for you to do at first, but it will become easier the more your practise.


This is exactly how I learned to do it on the B2B course. Or am I wrong?

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It’s not wrong at all. If it works for you then it works. I thought that it may make it easier for the OP to always keep the thumb sliding up and down the strings in the same fixed position for the sake of consistency and habit forming. Many players may instead choose to rest their thumb on the lowest string as you do.

Like so many things when playing Bass :slightly_smiling_face:

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He calls it “the sneaky finger”:


Thank you everyone guys so far for all the great responses! I believe I’m applying the “sneaky finger” technique so I guess I’m not developing a very bad habit after all :slight_smile:
I’m trying practicing muting my fret hand as well like @HowLowCanYouGet suggested in a combined manner of these two techniques. I’m still a bit far from full flat hand mutation but this is something I’m working to achieve in some point.

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The technique I describe is called floating thumb if you want to look it up. While muting is ideal whether you use 4 strings or more, it is essential for if you ever play a bass with a low B string because it will rumble away like an idling diesel engine. Using the B string as a thumb rest(rather than the pickup as some people do) can lead to unwanted noise, whereas hovering over the strings with the side of your thumb will not.

I like the floating thumb because it’s a good one size fits all technique for all basses. It also keeps your wrist straight(you really should keep your wrist straight on both plucking and fretting hands, because you really don’t want to end up with carpel tunnel syndrome or similar ailment affecting your long term heath) and allows you to pluck any the strings in the same uniform way.

Many people using 4 string prefer to rest their thumb on the pickup because this actually has advantages when playing really fast rock, metal or punk 16th rhythms. I suppose muting takes a backseat here.


Yes absolutely ok to mute in that way. I’ve seen many bassists do just that. In general with right hand there’s small learning curve and after you got the skills down it’s going on autopilot. I used to be so conscious about alternating fingers it got so bad it sounds so robotic. I stopped. If my one finger can not keep up with the beat the other will fill in automatically and in no particular order.

It’s kinda cool your brain tells it need this done and your body makes it happen subconsciously. Try planning out and follow through consciously, it would be a big task.

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