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Old 10-25-2020, 10:36 AM
jabyrd jabyrd is offline
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Default Sub-bass string muting technique

Hi all, I've recently started playing the harp guitar, and am wondering how others manage muting the sub-bass strings. Of course, if you have several ringing at once it's going to sound like mud, and you're limited to your plucking hand with which to mute the strings.

If I'm only plucking the bass strings infrequently (slow tempo, chords that stretch over many bars), then I find you I often get away with not paying much attention to muting, as they die down enough before you need the next one.

Also if I'm playing something more Michael Hedges/Andy McKee style, were the left hand is doing some legato ostinato sort of thing, and I have my entire right hand for the bass strings, then it's not much of an issue since I have 5 fingers to manage the strings.

But if I want to play lots of shorter bass notes on different strings, I have to mute the previous ones appropriately. For a descending bass line, this is pretty easy, because you can just use rest strokes, but what do you do otherwise?

Do you mute strings with your thumb right before/after the next note? This is what I initially tried, but it doesn't work so well if the bassline is quick (such as quarter notes), and can require moving your thumb a lot. Changing the how stretched out your hand is so much/fast can also make it hard to keep your fingers on the right guitar strings (although maybe I'll just get better at this as I practice).

Do you mute them with your palm/wrist/heel of your hand? This works pretty well if I want to mute all the strings at once. It feels tricky (but I think doable) if the string I want to mute is right next to the one I want to ring. It also feels a little more tricky if I want to mute a higher pitch string while letting a lower pitch one ring. This still doesn't work to well for quick basslines as you have to sort of bounce your wrist with your thumb which makes it really difficult to play the guitar strings with your fingers.

If the bassline is ascending, maybe you could mute them with the top of your thumb immediately before the next one? Or play a sort of upwards rest stroke?

I'm curious how others manage this. Do you primarily use one technique, or are there a couple you switch between? Do you use one of the methods I mentioned or something else?
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:22 AM
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Teleplucker Teleplucker is offline
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It is a topic of much conversation in the HG world. It also becomes a real problem when you start amplifying your guitar. Unmuted subs ringing out through a PA is a real bummer.
It depends on the guitar also, some are super responsive and some are not. Andy Walberg says he doesn't really worry about muting because the notes on his Dyer die off quickly. Stephen Bennett has spoken about muting many times and considerers it essential.
I use palm muting most of the time, but depending on what you are playing on the guitar neck it is more like muting the subs with your wrist.
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Old 10-31-2020, 12:48 PM
j3ffr0 j3ffr0 is offline
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Welcome to he wild, wonderful world of harp guitar.

I use anything from the palm to wrist to lower forearm. The side of the thumb can work to dampen a lower string and a rest stroke with the thumb can work to dampen I higher string as well.

Iím still a relative noob to the instrument, but itís a lot of fun. Enjoy!
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Old 11-18-2020, 06:36 PM
Jim85IROC Jim85IROC is offline
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what about stealing a trick from the high gain crowd and putting some kind of damper on the strings, either at the nut or foam near the bridge like the bass guys do? It will damp some of the plucked string's resonance, but it'll keep the non-plucked strings quiet too.
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harp guitar technique, mute, muting, sub-bass

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