Get­ting Started With… Fret hand mut­ing

Try one of the gui­tar’s most ver­sa­tile tech­niques and apply it to a mix of gen­res

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS -

“I see we’re do­ing mut­ing again! Didn’t we look at this last month?”

Sort of! Last month we looked at palm mut­ing; this time it’s fret-hand mut­ing. Don’t turn the page though. We’re not re­tread­ing old ground. This is a dif­fer­ent tech­nique that al­lows you to play in cool, cre­ative ways.

“Okay. What’s it all about then?”

Well, you prob­a­bly know that rest­ing your fin­gers on the strings dead­ens the sound – pro­vided you don’t fret any notes, of course. You’ve prob­a­bly also no­ticed that the strings don’t go com­pletely silent. Strike the ‘muted’ strings and you’ll hear a chunky, per­cus­sive sound. Give it a go! If you’re plugged in it’ll sound best with some dis­tor­tion.

“It’s re­ally easy! It’s not very mu­si­cal though. Does any­one re­ally do this?”

Yeah, you’ll hear it a lot, es­pe­cially in rock and metal. The riff in Nir­vana’s Smell­s­like­teen Spirit swaps be­tween clean and muted chords, Ra­dio­head’s Creep fea­tures a muted ‘chchunk’ be­fore the cho­ruses, and Guns ’N Roses’ Mr­brown­stone opens on muted strums. Per­cus­sive acous­tic play­ers like New­ton Faulkner and Mike Dawes use mut­ing as ‘drum’ strikes on their gui­tars too. Gen­er­ally, though, this tech­nique is used in a more pas­sive way, of­ten to punc­tu­ate chord changes.

“Got it! Let’s play some gui­tar then.”

Our first ex­am­ple is based on pow­er­chords. Easy enough, but no­tice the ‘X’s in the tab – these de­note fret-hand mut­ing. Don’t lift your fin­gers; just re­lease pres­sure from the strings to pro­duce a dry, chunky sound.

“The mut­ing is tricky. Some of the strings are still ring­ing out.”

Try to rest your fret­ting fin­gers against the ad­ja­cent idle strings – this’ll mute them out for you. Also, it’s easy to strum too hard, so try to tar­get only the strings in the chords. In­ci­den­tally, if you’re strug­gling with the rhythm take a look at the box­out on the right. This’ll help you sync your strum­ming with the tim­ing of the riff.

“Can we try an­other style of mu­sic?”

Sure! Our sec­ond ex­am­ple can be ap­plied to soul-, disco- or funk-based riffs. Think Chic, James Brown or Red Hot Chili Pep­pers – you could apply this idea to all of them. Once again, you’ll need to re­lease fin­ger pres­sure on the notes marked with an ‘X’. It’s a tricky one though, so prac­tise slowly to be­gin with.

whaty­ouwil learn Mas­ter the fret-hand mut­ing tech­nique Funky 16th-note rhythms Dis­torted alt-rock style muted rhythm

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