How to properly play the "x" on guitar tabs?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by landmvrks, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. landmvrks

    landmvrks SS.org Regular

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    I'm learning "Nightfall" by The Devil Wears Prada, and it has a lot of these "x" in the tab. What is the correct way to play these? I can't seem to find anything on Youtube, but it may be because I don't know what people refer to them as?

    As far as I can tell it's a soft press down with the fretting hand, to the point where it's just hard enough to produce a sound but not hard enough to produce a note? Essentially a muted note. When I try this I just get a shitty sound, with varying shittiness depending on where on the fretboard I do it. Where should my hand be on the fretboard when playing this and what else am I missing here?

    Here's the tab: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bknsk2K4oRi8_z4YcrP4eZPng_WhZDd7/view

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    I always thought of that as mute with fretting hand so no actual note produced, just noise from muted string(s).
     
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  3. landmvrks

    landmvrks SS.org Regular

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    Yeah that's what I believe it is, but whenever I try it I get some shitty buzzy sound. Also it changes depending on where on the fretboard I do it, so where would I do it if the tab just says "x" and no fret to do it on?
     
  4. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    I don't know what you mean by shitty buzzy. It's not supposed to be a nicely ringing note is it? More of a rhythmic thing?

    Where to do it? Where it makes sense I guess? Where other actual fretted notes are fretted maybe or just where it sounds best? This seems like overthinking stuff.
     
  5. wheresthefbomb

    wheresthefbomb SS.org Regular

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    Probably close to the nut unless it specifically says otherwise. Moving up the string you'll start introducing harmonics and, yeah, it will sound different. Close to the nut you get the most string movement while still muting the overall sound, for a nice fat CHONK.

    Honestly it kind of sounds like your guitar might have some setup issues, and/or also like your technique might benefit from a little attention, but it's hard to say what's causing the buzzing from over here.

    Ultimately, you're not going to sound like it does on a professionally produced recording with multi tracked guitars, so keep that in mind as well and try to adjust your expectations accordingly.
     
  6. landmvrks

    landmvrks SS.org Regular

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    Alright appreciate it, very helpful. I was watching this youtube cover of the video and it's so hard to tell, but it looks the guy might do the muting somehow with the pick hand? It doesn't seem like he has his hands muting for those "x" notes, even though he has them in the tab he wrote. Is this another way to do it, or is it just not clear enough from the Youtube video that he is doing it with the fretting hand?

     
  7. wheresthefbomb

    wheresthefbomb SS.org Regular

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    Try it both ways and see which sounds better. Ultimately what he's doing is less important than what sounds right to you.

    It's also important to keep in mind that there is no codified set of rules for tab notations, anyone can post a tab online and use any symbols they like, often without a key as to what they mean.
     
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    "chicka"
     
  9. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Colorless green ideas sleep furiously Contributor

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    Muting is a combination of left and right hand techniques. It depends on the specific line as to whether it is left, right, or both. Third technique is using the left hand thumb over or a finger angled so that it mutes a string (e.g., open G chord where you fret 3 on 6th string and and mute the 5th string with that same finger, or open D chord where you mute the 6th string with your thumb).

    Already mentioned, but the closer towards the nut the less harmonic overtones and the more muffled it will sound. But there will still be a tail to the mute. To get a really staccato mute you also need to use your right palm.

    Also, the more you slide your right palm forward onto strings the more you will mute. Hence how you can get staccato muted lines (but not fully muted) by playing a lead with your hand partially muting the strings (e.g., Victory by Rick Graham - he plays the same run several times with various muting).
     
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  10. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent SS.org Regular

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    My suggestion would be to look at a video of a guitarist playing the track and try to mimic the technique.

    @USMarine75 the seriousness of your post is suprising.
     
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  11. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Colorless green ideas sleep furiously Contributor

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    *surprising
     
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  12. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    The riff at 0:50 is probably the classic staple for abuse of this sound and a great one to practice. Make sure you pick like a motherfucker
     
  13. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    this is the correct answer. to me anyway

    best example i can think of right now is the "chika " in the Killing In The Name Of riff
     
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  14. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    The "X" can mean either a mute or ghost note. You can hear a note still within a ghost note and less/nothing with a mute. These terms are used interchangeabley for the most part. You have to hear the track to know what's really going on, or have an idea what it should be. I'd argue to say most the time you hear palm muting it's actually ghost notes because of the note being determinable. A lot of palm mutes are notated this way but also have a P.M. most the time whereas ghost notes don't have the P.M. THere's also a lot of wrong tab that doesn't put the P.M. when it should be there etc.
    Almost everyone knows what a palm mute sounds like and how they can chug it etc.. but for a ghost note chord example you can lossen the left hand pressure so it's firmly on the strings still but not allowing the strings to buzz out or make harmonics and then strum/chug the chord. It won't sound totally muted but will have some note/ chord quality in there still. Experimenting with left/right hand how already explained above will get you there. You hear this stuff all the time once you hear it.
     
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  15. landmvrks

    landmvrks SS.org Regular

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    Thanks a lot for the explanation. I honestly think in this particular song it's just a kind of mute with the strumming hand, and not the fretting hand. When I wrote this post I was assuming the "x" was being made by the fretting hand, hence why I was having trouble with it, but when I just kinda half palm mute/block the note with my strumming hand instead it sounds spot on.
     
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  16. fantom

    fantom Misses his 6 strings

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    Keep in mind that even professional publication companies print official tab books with tons of mistakes. Unless the tab you have was written by the artist to indicate left hand muting, you should play whatever sounds good to you and matches the recording to your best ability.

    In other words, it is safe to assume the tab is wrong and the "x" is the best way the person writing it could express their interpretation of the song. I'm not saying it is true in this instance, I just don't understand the fixation on the "x".
     
  17. CanserDYI

    CanserDYI Beauty can't be seen through the eyes

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    The x's are a muted picked note. Just drape hand over strings on the left, and rake the strings with your right, creating a percussive effect.
     
  18. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace $$60,000,000,000

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    Looks like it'd be a fret hand mute, using multiple fingers like in Smells Like Teen Spirit.
     
  19. Calibix

    Calibix 16.666% more string

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    I was just going to mention this song as a very obvious example of left hand. I'd use my right to get the same effect in say a Ska style syncopated rhythm like Sublime Date Rape.
     
  20. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace $$60,000,000,000

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    Ska, reggae, and Sublime are major NOs to me.
     

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