Muting Strings Deliberately

Thank you for your explanation. So I am not doing anything wrong and it is just a matter of practice. like most problems on the guitar journey.

What is meant by ‘single lines’? Justin refers to it in the video at 2:00. Does it mean any time an individual note is played on it’s own that it’s played for an exact count? Have tried Googling and not really found an explanation but found this further forward in Grade 5 -

A single line is just a sequence of notes played individually.

Oh ok - so it’s any note played on it’s own rather that how long a note is played for? Thank you.

Yes, single note lines refer to melodies where one note is played at a time. As for “how long a note is played for”, check the time signature of the given piece.

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Just curious - what advice would you give when using the picking hand to mute the highest strings (i.e., G B E) on a stratocaster-shaped guitar? Reason I ask is because I notice the volume knob gets in the way as I manuever my hand to mute.

I tend to mute the higher strings with my left hand and lower strings with right hand.

The riff in The Black Keys’ Lonely Boy uses the E minor pentatonic as well. Fun one to practice for sure!

When i was watching the previous video practicing the scale I was doing it with my fingers flat and thought man this is probably wrong I better do it with the tips of my fingers, then i watch this video and turns out i was actually doing it right lol

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Is it ok just to mute the two strings next to the one you’re picking or you need to mute all of them? I can mute those strings with my left hand but it’s difficult to mute EAD with the picking hand while I’m playing GBE.

Hi @CarlosAP, you want want to mute all the strings when you are not playing them. Because:

  1. Unmuted strings always make a sound. It may not always be noticeable to your ear, but they will show up on a recording, or they will be audible with high-gain equipment.
  2. When you play a note, it makes other strings ring a little bit.

Geekery: The more frequencies the note you played have in-common with the unmuted string, the more it will start ringing out. For e.g. try leaving the A string open and play the 5th fret on the E string, or the 7th fret on the D string. You will see that the A string will start ringing out. Or when you play the perfect 5th of an open string, it will make the open string ring out a little bit (e.g. playing an A note somewhere will make the D string ring a little bit).


When you play an E, A or D note on those strings, the three low strings may vibrate due to sympathetic vibration. It really depends on the circumstances if that’s something you want to avoid or are not bothered by.

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Thanks for the help! I think I will connect my guitar to the amp while playing the scale so that I can hear the noise. It’s hardly noticeable while playing without the amp and I didn’t think it was a big deal.

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You can notice it without the amp too. Make sure your guitar is tuned, then leave a string unmuted and play the same note on another string. Then gently touch the unmuted string with the tip of your finger, you’ll notice that it is ringing.


Thank you for explaining that. I was getting impatient and was also wondering why we need to mute every string. That makes total sense tho thanks

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While picking I rest my pinky, sometimes both pinky & ring fingers over the body of the guitar to get a better control. Is that bad habit? Will it hinder me from playing fast later on?

Anchoring your pinky on the guitaf is personal preference. Personally I don’t but Tommy Emmanuel uses an anchor finger and it hasn’t slowed him down at all. So if you’re comfortable using an anchor finger it shouldn’t do any harm.

In a previous lesson by Justin: [Guitar String Muting Techniques - How To Play Guitar - Stage 3 Guitar Lesson [IM-134] He suggests muting the unwanted strings by using your first finger, but in this lesson he is using his middle and ring finger to mute them. I am confused on what situation would I use my first finger to mute as opposed to the other fingers. In the original lesson, the first finger was muting the notes even when he was using his other fingers which weren’t flattened. Any help would be appreciated.

Hi Matthew @Djangology, and welcome to the community! Being a beginner currently consolidating Grade 2, I don’t have any technical guidance to offer. I understand, though, that Justin’s current curriculum is significantly different from the old course: some skills and knowledge are now introduced in a different sequence, and in some cases Justin has evolved the way he teaches skills. The previous lesson you cite is from his old curriculum, at the intermediate level. It would appear that string muting is now introduced much earlier! I’d suggest following the current lessons to avoid confusion. Even if you already have some intermediate-level skills, most of the advice from more advanced players on this forum is to follow Justin’s current curriculum in the order presented. Experienced students will progress quickly, even while picking up some great basic skills and information they haven’t been exposed to previously. Not sure that’s helpful, but hopefully another person can more directly address your question!

If you have a minute, consider popping over here to introduce yourself to the group. :smiling_face:

I’m not an expert on muting, by any means, but one difference in the 2 lessons is that the Grade 2 lesson is using the open Em pentatonic, where you aren’t using your index finger on your fretting hand and therefore it’s not in position to mute any strings.

The other lesson is using the G major scale, starting on fret 3, string 6. So, the index finger is used to play the scale and therefore can be used to mute.

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