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Muting And Percussion

May 23, 2008
Awwwww, this is our last content. Keep up the practising now, you hear? You owe it to the kind trees that made your guitar! In this content we're going to look at some muting techniques and see how to get a bit of percussion out of the guitar - after all, that big soundbox is a bit like a drum.

THEORY

Spaces are just as important as notes when it comes to making interesting rhythms. Both hand can be used to control the length of time that a string vibrates. Releasing the finger pressure in a chord will lift the strings off the frets and stop them ringing.

The fingers of the fret hand can also deliberately rest lightly over the strings to halt the sound, just as we did in the strumming content. Likewise, the pick hand can rest over unwanted strings - perhaps in the middle of a strumming pattern - to create a gap.

I know! You spent the last nine lessons trying to make a noise and now I'm telling you to stop it! However, muting is extremely important and the control it bring will move your playing onto the next level. It may seem like a lot to think about at the moment, but it dose become automatic after time and you won't even realise that you're doing it - I nearly forgot to mention it to you actually!

We can also take these muting techniques to create more distinct rhythme. Instead of resting a hand lightly on to the strings, come down quite hard so as to create a percussive sound like banging a drum. Try this out on different areas of the guitar and see what noses you can create. Have a go with different parts of your hand - knuckles or fingernails - to create different effects.

Percussive sounds are marked on the TAB notation with an 'X' symbol instead of a fret number.

IN PRACTICE

So, now we'll have a go at taming those wild strings.

Step#1

Choose an open chord and give it a full, loud strum. You should hear that the strings ring for quite a long time before they finally die out.

Step#2

Strum that same chord but quickly after it, rest your pick hand down over the strings. They will stop vibrating and be silenced.

Step#3

Now, try same again, but this time mute by releasing your fret hand in the chord and resting the fingers lightly on the fretboard.

Step#4

This time try both techniques again but, rather than resting lightly on to the strings, experiment by hitting down harder. This will make percussive sounds and hence create additional rhythms after the initial strum.

Step#5

The percussive sound that you get will vary according to where you hit the guitar. Knocking on the soundboard will give a bassy boom. Tapping the side of the body will sound a sharp snap. Hitting the strings down on the fretboard will give a metallic click.
About the Author
Sin Nana is the professional freelance writer. He's also the webmaster of Guitarclassicguide.com
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