Muting misery, is this normal?

Sorry not sure where to put this one.

Just a general question to those that can play pretty well.

Does everyone hit a bit of a wall of suddenly becoming aware of all the extra noise they’re making?

I’m trying to start to “clean up” what I’m playing but it seems like I’m having to change everything to do that. Left hand and right and it seems very demoralising.

It’s like you spend your first year trying not to touch the strings then you need to touch all the strings you’re not using.

Is this normal and does everyone just kind of get used to doing it?

Any advice?


Liz x

Sorry Liz. I think it’s just practise, practise, practise. :smiley:

Don’t have a problem with practice, just not completely sure what or how really? Just trial and error to some extent I suppose as everyone has different sized/shaped hands etc

You’ve got it pretty much spot on Liz, it’s just a question of time playing as opposed to anything specific to practice I think. If you’re not playing to a backing track, or if you’re using the app, then maybe slow the tempo down a touch to allow you to focus on the “cleaned up” playing.
I think we mostly all catch strings we shouldn’t but in many cases it still sounds good so take heed of Justin’s comments of if it sounds good it is! :slight_smile:


Hi Liz, I’m definitely working on the noise.

What I tend to find is that I can learn a song to a ‘reasonable’ standard fairly quickly. But there maybe that one transition that always catches me out, or loads of other strings ringing out. - I hit a bit of a plateau I guess.

Over time though, if I keep them in my practice routine, as the fingers find their way around more easily and naturally I can clean it up, even if it’s just one chord transition at a time. It’s lots of little subtle things like how your fingers leave the string between chord changes etc as well as getting the actual ‘taught’ techniques down for both strumming hand and fretting hand muting (which I am by no means there yet).

I know Justin mentions in a few of his videos that he can tell a ‘new guitarist’ by the sloppy string muting, but I tend to focus more on getting the tempo and feel right and worry about the noise less.

Worth noting, for me time to clean up is in months/years rather than weeks/months. :slightly_frowning_face:

Try recording yourself and then play back a few days later, sometimes it’s too easy to be self critical too. Try and think of the noise as making your sound ‘authentic’. “True perfection has to be imperfect” - or so Liam and Noel sing :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi Liz
I agree with one of the last points made by Dave in that recording yourself and looking back is a great way to notice and pin point subtle elements of your playing that otherwise go missed. At first it is not easy to listen to or watch yourself playing however the benefits are really worth it.
Since I started recording myself I have noticed so many little areas to clean up in my playing, little things that make a big difference.
Hope this helps.

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I definitely noticed this problem when I’d been practising a lot with the electric guitar unplugged - with the amp cranked up suddenly there was a lot of noise from strings that weren’t meant to be sounding.

The causes were a combination of bad strumming, clumsy chord changing resulting in accidental “flick-offs” and then just times when a string needed to be muted - a change from an E to a D chord, for example, when you can’t just leave that E string ringing out.

I haven’t cracked it yet, and have been playing with sneaking my thumb over to mute that E string when needed, but mostly just working on accuracy and playing with the amp nice and loud more often so I can hear the mistakes better! (and recording myself, that helps too)


The more you play the more your ears become aware of how things should sound. The good news is becoming aware of the extra noise is the first sign your getting better. You’re now in the how to fix the problem. Don’t get frustrated, this is all part of getting better. You’ll find once you clean up one problem it will automatically clean up other problems at the same time.
Keep in mind that knowing something is not right means your listening to what your playing which mean your on the right track.


In the classical guitar training, there is a lot of up front time spent on technique to get tone just right. This makes the learning a little dry at the beginning.

I think in the electric and steel world, the emphasis is on playing music, with more forgiving technique of strumming and cords. It may be one of the reasons finger-style training also is a later add on more often. It is less forgiving, especially if you do it on an amplified guitar.

In any case, I would suggest that you are making progress and have gotten to a level where muting and attention to the more subtle aspects of the music and sound you make are becoming important.

So now is the perfect time to slow down and refine what you play. Work on adding the muting techniques to what you already know. Seems natural to me. It would have been really hard before you got there.

Edit: like stitch said while I was writing this!


The past couple of songs I’ve been working on have a lot of muting and I feel the same exact way. For me, it feels like a much slower and more frustrating process as it feels really unnatural to mute. Especially in higher BPM with quarter note rests.

No advice other than I’m also dealing with this as well and my plan is to just keep practicing it and hopefully it will work itself out.

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Thanks, nice to know it isn’t just me :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks, that is helpful, It can get really frustrating. Just when you think you’re getting somewhere…

Yes it can be a right pain because there’s no right and wrong way of doing it, it’s all to do with working with what you’ve got and adapting to what suits you best.
I’ve got really small hands so where some curl their thumbs over the fretboard to mute the low E and A strings I can’t so I have to use my first finger most of the time, there are lots of situations where I can’t do what a lot of players can so have to find a way out, it can be very frustrating!

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Yeah, I’ve got tiny hands too

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Sometimes it happens but not as often as before. With me, dead(ish) strings can be more of an issue.

Have you checked this lesson out?

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It happened to me when I bought an audio interface and started recording, and listening back to, the guitar as a pure signal. I found out the hard way that just jamming chords through an amp along to a backing track can be quite forgiving by comparison!

Suddenly I could notice all those strings I didn’t mean to strum, all the unintended pull-offs, knocking into strings by accident when changing chords, strings ringing out after a change that really shouldn’t be, etc.

It can be demoralising, for sure. I thought I was starting to sound pretty good but realised actually my playing is a whole bag of ass. Oh well, it is what it is. We can only work on improving the things we dislike about our own playing, right?

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oh I came to that conclusion in a very late phase and I’m still not there.

I learned myself to hit only the right strings and that got me far.
Chord grips where you HAVE to mute a string somwhere in the middle were a big turn off though :smiley:

My tip; incorporate one thing at a time and stick to that for a while.
like, “using the tip of an index finger to mute the thickest string”.
practice and incorporate that for a week or two without focussing on something else. Adjusting that existing muscle memory will be less discouraging than trying to do everything at once …and failing miserable :wink:


It’s good to know I’m not alone, we can do this (maybe :joy:)

Thanks, that sounds like a plan :+1:t2:

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