By: James Duclos
As an early bassist, you may have trouble with unwanted notes ringing through and making your sound somewhat muddy and offensive. Learning to mute the strings your note is playing will help you produce a more clean sound, which will be more pleasant to the ears! Bass players use various techniques to ensure there are no tones ringing through to “mud” the waters they are swimming in.
Left–hand muting is one way to mute those unwanted tones, the other method obviously being right–hand muting. To mute with your left hand, you can play the note with your pointer finger, and then lift up slightly so that the note is no longer ringing through continuously. You can also lay your other three fingers across the string to stop it from vibrating. Add Insert and Videos
Right hand muting techniques are a little different. Using your thumb, you can mute the lower strings while you are playing the upper string. Basically, you use your strings as a thumb rest while you are playing the other strings. Also, when you pluck with your right hand, you can pluck past the string and rest your finger against the next lower string until you are ready to pluck again. Add Insert and Videos
Practicing these styles will help you to play more staccato, or short, detached notes. This will help contribute to your “funk,” but it will also help you to play those long droning notes cleanly and clearly, and most importantly, you will hear only the ones you want to be heard.
While you are playing slap bass, you will primarily want to use left–hand muting; you simply lift up slightly on the string so that your finger is not fretting the note but is on the string just enough to stop it from vibrating. If it is convenient to use right–hand muting, then go for it. Add Insert and Videos
Practice these two methods with scales and arpeggios. Play each scale up and down short, and then alternate one long, one short, one long, one short. Make up your own exercises and practice them until you can play them at a moderately brisk pace cleanly and crisply. It will also help if you can practice these exercises with a drummer. Focus on what his bass drum is doing: bomp, bomp, bomp, bomp, then do the same thing short and in unison. Bomp, bomp, bomp, bomp. The next step is to add syncopation between the bomps, maybe even skip a bomp every once in a while to add interest. Take these suggestions and incorporate them into your daily practice and jam habits. Remember, have fun!