String Bending and Muting on a Guitar
String Bending On The Guitar
Bending strings is used to give the guitar a more personalized and harmonic quality. The technique is used mostly by lead guitar players but is also applied in all styles of playing. String bending and vibrato techniques are two large components in making up a guitar player's style. The combination of these skills more or less defines a considerable part of what makes your playing different than the next guy.
Bending the strings far enough to reach a desired pitch is the goal. One of the keys is to use three fingers to bend the string, instead of just one finger. Use your third finger on the fret you're bending and place your first and second fingers on the frets behind it, and use the strength of all three fingers when you do a bend.
Fret the note on the 7th fret of the third string with your third finger. Your other finger should follow on the 6th and 5th fret. Our goal is to bend this note up one step (the equivalent of two frets) and then release the note to its original pitch. Before you do your first bend hit the note on the 9th fret, this will be your reference note. When you do your bend the goal is to make the tone of your bend "reach" the tone of the reference note. Repeat: hit your reference note, then immediately jump to the correct position and play a bend until to can consistently match the reference note.
The length you hold the bend, how quickly you release it and any vibrato you add to the bend will define a large part of playing your style. It's good to just have fun and try doing a number of bends and releases to hear all the different sounds you can generate. Try bending the note before you strike it so you just hear the release, or try using a wide or narrow vibrato so act character and color to your bends.
Be patient you haven't used these muscles before, and is will take time to strengthen. Keep practicing, and you'll get the hang of it eventually.
String Muting On The Guitar
String muting is a technique that can help you define your own personal style, whether you are learning to play an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. There are two types of string muting, the palm mute with your picks hand and the string mute with your fret hand. They serve very different purposes, but both are important to good guitar playing.
Fret-hand muting is particularly important when playing chords and power chord. The purpose is to use part of you finger tips and fingers to mute the strings you don't want to include in the chord being played. For example the C majors chord is played from the 5th string to the first, your are not supposed to hit the 6th string. I use the tip of my 3rd finger that is holding down the 5th string 3rd fret to rub up against the sixth string thereby muting the string. I use this same technique with power chords, but in addition I use the fat part of my index finger to lightly lay across strings 1,2,3. with just enough pressure to mute the strings. The beauty is if you get a little wild with your pick it still sounds right. Fret-hand muting is used extensively.
Palm muting is more commonly used in distorted rock songs. The technique involves resting the heel of your pick-hand palm on the strings as you pick. Most people rest it directly over the bridge, but you can experiment with different positions for different sounds. Also try different levels of pressure to regulate the level of muting. This technique creates a percussive, muffled or chunky sound. Combine fast down strokes with palm muting in various patterns with moderate distortion for sounds similar to Metallica or other metal bands.
Both fret hand muting and palm muting are very individual and stylistic techniques. Incorporate practicing this technique every time you pick up your guitar and before long you'll master this necessary skill.
Article written by Bill McRea
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Bill McRea is the publisher of www.guitarwarehouse.com and www.kansasfans.com . Bill has been an owner of a successful guitar retailer and a guitar teacher