Muting vs Missing strings - question for more experienced players

In the early beginner lessons, Justin talks about strumming so you miss the thicker strings when playing D and A chords. He later introduces muting with the ring finger for the C chord. But I don’t recall him talking about thumb muting much in the early lessons…if at all.

I struggled with this “miss the strings” technique…it really messed up my strumming. I could never get a good solid strum while also avoiding the E and A strings. Things started going much better when I learned to thumb mute.

My question…for the more experienced players…

Do any of you consistently use the “miss” technique in most of your playing? Or is that more of a transitional technique for beginners?


This question assumes that “experienced” players continue to play open chords but by Grade 4 you move on to barre chords where all 6 strings are played. So it depends on your level of experience. For some barre shapes, Justin teaches to actually play some of the strings that are muted in the open position; none of them are actually wrong in the chord.

To answer the question directly: at an advanced level it is quite possible to miss a string and/or a number strings whilst strumming. It’s also possible to hit just one string whilst appearing to strum. If you look at videos of Jimmy Page playing riffs he looks as though he is strumming but he’s playing a riff not chords.

Why Justin teaches for strings to be muted is a question best directed at him.

Edit to add video

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Well, I don’t see him on the forum much, so…

I always assumed he found that it was easier to teach beginners that way. Beginners have a lot to deal with already, without adding thumb muting to the mix. Just me speculating, of course.

Interestingly, I saw Rick Beato say he taught his beginner students to thumb mute right from the beginning on one of his videos.

Thanks for elaborating on the more advanced techniques - I wasn’t aware of them.

It’s not for me to question Justin’s teaching methods here but if beginners have a lot to deal with, why teach them to mute at all. I’m self taught, have always played the open E on the 6th in an A chord for example. I don’t thumb mute - I use the thumb to play barre chords all over the neck. I play the F# on the 6th string with my thumb for an open D chord. When you get into Power Chords you will only be playing the lower 3 strings. All these techniques develop over time.

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I’d think it depends a lot on the hands of the player. If you have small hands then thumb muting is going to be a problem so teaching people to miss strings is probably a more universal approach and just plain old good practice (in my opinion).
My hands are big enough so I’ve used thumb muting pretty much from day 1 as a bit of a safety net and to mute strings that are still ringing after a chord change such as E to A, but I do aim to just hit the correct strings anyway. At some point you’re likely to want to be able to pick individual strings so the act of missing strings also probably helps with the spacial awareness needed to do that well when it comes up


I regularly miss the E and A strings when strumming.

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Missing the A string is a nightmare for me, cause my thumb doesn’t reach it and I got used to mute the thickest string instead of missing it, cause I find it much easier/safer.

I used to play in a punk rock band and we mostly used power chords. Now, each time I face a simple D chord, I wish we played more varied stuff xD


After nearly 3 years of playing, my tendency is to use both. It has been taught to me that way, and think its a good practice. Mute and miss. The missing becomes pretty natural after a while, but 'Im of the mindset that whatever I’m not playing, I’m attempting to mute with either hand.
At reasonable gain levels on electrics too youre going to get strings making noise if you dont mute them.


I’ve been playing for 10+ years and rarely if ever use the thumb muting technique (it doesn’t feel comfortable). I think regardless of experience there will be songs you play with open chords, songs that use barre chords and songs that use power chords OR all three (rarely though). I can play A, D etc. and consistently miss the low strings. It becomes second nature after a while.


I mute strings and also target strings while strumming. So both, all the time.

Muting, I use either thumb or other fingers. Not muting is less of a problem for some chords where the notes are in them (open C, A, etc) but can sound quite bad with some chords. Some chords need muting on other strings, eg an open D5 muting the high E.

As a beginner I couldn’t wrap my thumb around but can now.

Targeting the right strings is also a thing. Even specifically targeting bass notes or the high strings for feel in different parts of the song. In grade 3 that levels up a bit to practice targeting specific strings, eg to pick out a melody while strumming.


he says several times its for strengthening and stretching your fretting hand in the beginning, not for long term. he also says don’t sweat hitting the E and A strings in the beginning.

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Great clip on the yardbirds! Thanks for sharing!

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