How To Mute Guitar Strings While Playing

Muting is a strategy that you will utilize throughout your guitar playing journey. The purpose for muting a note and the technique you use to mute your strings will vary from piece to piece. Over time guitarists develop the experience required to make proper judgments about which muting technique will best serve the requirements of the song or musicality they want to express. To begin, palm muting and left hand finger lifting are most used in rock and pop music. But in other genres, it is almost a necessity such as with classical music which requires a lot of dynamics, or with heavy metal which produces a booming “chug” effect. In this article we will show you how to mute guitar strings while playing in several different ways & answer from FAQs.

how to mute guitar strings while playing

Related: How To Use A Capo On Guitar

Palm Muting

Palm muting is muting using the side of your right hand. Most often palm muting is used to add texture and variation to our lines. Classical guitarists also utilize this technique, but it is often called Pizzicato, where your thumb plucks the strings low towards the bridge. Classical guitarists also palm mute to silence the strings at the end of a piece.

Palm Muting Technique

Place your right hand lighty above the strings near the bridge. You do not want to suppress the sound completely. Use your pick to pluck the strings. Your left hand should play as it normally would.

Finger Muting

There are different methods for muting your strings with your fingers. Also, these techniques vary depending on which hand you are using. Which technique you use depends on the context of the song you are playing.

Left Hand Finger Muting Technique

String Lifting: Lifting off of a single note with your left hand is common in classical music. This is because every note must only ring its value and be released in time for new notes. In pop music, left hand lifting is used to mute whole chords to create a sense of rhythm.

String Stopping: Another method used by the left hand is stopping a string with a finger on the left hand. This is especially true when you only need one note ringing, and to prevent buzzing.

String Muting: One extra way we might mute strings is when we want to play a chord but we don’t need the lower strings, so we might use our index finger to prevent a string from buzzing.

Right Hand Finger Muting Technique

Palm Muting: As mentioned above, palm muting is a muting technique achieved using the side of your right hand. It can create a muted and rhythmic style to our sound, kind of like a bass. Using your thumb or pick, you pluck the strings low towards the bridge. Palm muting can also be used at the end of a piece to silence ringing strings.

Right Hand Sting Stopping: Right hand string stopping is only used in fingerpicking styles of guitar. You might strike a string and then immediately mute it as you pluck a new string. Right hand exercises are really important for building up these skills, but when mastered don’t require any thought whatsoever.

Karate Chop: This technique is called the karate chop because you use the side of your flat right hand to mute the strings. Despite its name, you want to be very slow and gentle on your guitar. This is a method of slowly getting your strings to fade out. Some classical guitarists prefer this technique more than the standard palm mute for ending a piece. Again, it really depends on your preference.

String Muting Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You NOT Mute String While Playing Chords?

While playing chords, palm muting is a technique you do NOT want to use as it requires too much movement and is completely uneconomical. It is perhaps better suited for muting individual notes or parts of a chord.

How Do You Mute A Guitar Strum?

Lifting up all the fingers of your left hand is a great way to mute a guitar strum. It is utilized to create a sense of rhythm in your playing. Think pop and funk music with a percussive grove. Another way is to lay one of your fretting hand fingers across the fretboard lightly.

What Is Muted Strumming Called?

Muted strumming is when you are plucking strings while your right palm is lightly rested on the strings. It is synonymous and better known as palm muting.

What Is A Ghost Strum?

Ghost strumming and left hand finger muting often go hand and hand. To create a sense of rhythmic variation, you are not going to want every single stum to ring out. Ghost strums are the strums that exist for keeping a steady tempo, but are not meant to ring out. Practicing ghost strumming is also great for learning how the right hand rhythm should be strumming in a song.

How Do You Strum Without Buzzing?

To avoid buzzing, make sure your left index finger has extended to mute the top E string on chords where it is not necessary. Also making sure that you are applying the right amount of strength on every note to make sure it is ringing out properly can help you avoid buzzing.

If all of this is in check, then you might want to look into some guitar maintenance. You might need to check the height of the guitar strings, do a truss rod adjustment, or inspect the bridge for proper settings.

How Do I Practice String Muting?

For palm muting, I would try playing my scales while keeping my right hand in place. For left hand string muting, you can’t go wrong with learning some catchy funk or pop tunes. Playing covers is a surefire way to get these techniques under your fingers.

girl holding an acousting guitar - article about ghost strumming muting & mute techinques


For acoustic and electric guitar players, left hand finger lifting and muting and palm muting will be the majority of muting techniques you will use. If you are a classical musician, more techniques exist because of the importance of note values. You might use techniques such as pizzicato, string lifting, and string stopping. Which technique you use will depend on the context of your piece. It may seem like a lot to learn, but eventually becomes second nature.

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