Calling all right hand thumb muters!

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by andre09, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. andre09

    andre09 Regular

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    Dec 26, 2011
    Hi there,

    Recently I've rekindled my interest in right hand thumb muting vs palm muting. And to be 100% clear, I am talking about muting any noise from the strings below the string being plucked. Not as in palm muting for percussive power chords. I am also using the index to mute the strings above.

    The main reason I decided to pursue right hand thumb muting is the realization of the added flexibility it brings. I don't have to rely on always having my picking hand flush to the bridge to play cleanly with distortion, allowing me more freedom on how and where I hold the guitar. Also, I've heard that the bone of the thumb is much more effective in quickly muting ringing strings than fleshy parts of the palm. And finally, I heard Yngwie does it :hbang:

    So while experimenting on how to thumb mute WITHOUT accidentally pinching artificial harmonics, I realized that I needed to move my pick closer to the edge of my fingernail, lowering the chance of accidentally touching flesh and causing a pinch harmonic. I've also been working on improving the economy of my picking motions (not as in directional picking, but as in how far I follow through on each pick) to lower the chance of my thumb touching the string on the follow through.

    However, I am finding it hard to find a compromise on trying to the mute the string directly below, but still not make pinch harmonics due to flesh being too close to the pick. I find that when I move the picking closer to the edge of my fingernail, I fail to the mute the string directly below (which is sometimes okay, as my index would mute it), or in some cases even 2 strings directly below (in which case my fretting hand index finger would not cover it).

    This problem is exacerbated when sweeping comes into play. I have NO clue how this dude in this video is not accidentally making pinch harmonics when sweeping. Since the nature of thumb muting relies on the thumb being flush to the string, how can one do this while making a sweeping motion? Because the thumb is parallel to the bridge, I would think it is inevitable for the string to be touched right after the pluck, causing the unwanted harmonic.

    SHORT VERSION: At the moment I am thumb muting for normal alt picking (though still having trouble finding a good compromise between preventing accidental pinch harmonics by moving the picking further from thumb flesh, yet still muting the adjacent string below), and then using palm muting for sweeping, because I literally cannot sweep with thumb muting without it resulting in a harmonic fest.

    I realize that the majority of people do not thumb mute, so if you do, I beg you to share your insight!

  2. dross1991a

    dross1991a Regular

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    Nov 13, 2013


    I've been having this same issue today. Not to get your hopes up and say I have a universal and experienced solution, but one problem I have is when I'm up near the body on the fretting hand, playing higher notes, and if I bar two strings, I'll try playing the higher(pitch) of the two being barred on the same fret, and won't be able to reach my thumb down far enough to mute the lower(pitch) of the two being barred to mute it, since the open strings (ones I'm not pressing down on with the fretting hand) are higher off the fretboard.

    With that explanation aside, lol, here's my "solution".
    I'll arch my inner most thumb joint, bending my thumb in an 'L' shape. This gives me the ability to arch the tip of my thumb up to the middle of the pick, giving a bigger triangular space to play the next string without pinch harmonics ruining it. To help better explain it, the pick hits the string (which is about a centimeter away from the one I'm muting, and the 'L' shape/joint of my thumb will hit/rest on the one I want to mute.

    Hope that helps, if not, well.... that's because I'm not an expert. lol


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