#1
Yeah, it's basically like the easiest beginner chord. But just recently (in my second year of playing) I'm aware that i'm not really just strumming the top four strings. one song I play in particular I notice has a very undesirsble low buzzing sound throughout from me least brushing those low strings.

So my question is, what should I do to fix it? I know some guys on this site have said that they mute the bottom two strings with their thumb. to me that seems really difficult and awkward finger positioning, and would slow down my play considerably at this point. However, would anyone recommend that I take the necessary time and setbacks to get used to doing this?

What about muting it with pinky? That seems easier to me right now. I don't think just learning to be precise tho and not hit those bottom two strings is very realistic. Any help would be appreciated
#2
I'm probably about as far along as you are panman. If I'm playing a 4 string chord I'll "nudge" the 5th string with my ring finger to muzzle it. Careful that you don't bend the 4th string while doing it or your chord will sound funny. On 5 string chords I'll "nudge" the 6th string to muzzle it in a similar manner.
#3
Quote by panman36
I don't think just learning to be precise tho and not hit those bottom two strings is very realistic. Any help would be appreciated


Why not? I had to pick up the guitar and see how I handle it, and yeah I can play the chord easily without hitting the bottom strings. I tried some fast strumming and chord changes from 6 to 5 to 4 string chords and yeah, there's absolutely no problem not hitting the lowest strings. Of course, I'm much more experienced than you, but I'm still only an intermediate player at best. I don't think you can mute the strings without some very silly techniques, and it's not worth it. Just practice it properly.
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#5
I'm with Kevätuhri on this one - you just need to practice.

I don't understand how'd you'd mute with your pinky...?

I've seen people hooking their thumb over, but I think it looks clunky and leads to bad habits that ultimately just make your life more difficult. If you're wanting the F# in the bass, I'd recommend using your index finger on the low E, then make up the D shape with your other 3 fingers.
#6
Quote by Forsythed
I've seen people hooking their thumb over, but I think it looks clunky and leads to bad habits that ultimately just make your life more difficult. If you're wanting the F# in the bass, I'd recommend using your index finger on the low E, then make up the D shape with your other 3 fingers.

I'm going to have to very strongly disagree with that.

The majority of us are blessed with 5 digits and might as well learn to use them properly. It might not work for everyone, but learning to hook the thumb over to mute is, for the most part, the most sensible way to prevent unwanted bass notes ringing out. Learning to fret notes with the thumb is also a very useful skill, though, again, not for everyone.

The idea that removing the thumb from the back of the neck at any point is a "bad habit" is nonsense, and bordering on myth status for the number of times it's repeated (which gets very tiring to watch, knowing that ever more people are going to think it's a rule). Keeping the thumb planted on the back of the neck is something from classical guitar, where it makes lots of sense because you have the right hand fingers to mute with. On electric, it's great for most lead parts (obviously especially shredding) and necessary for barre chords (and, usually, for anything involving single notes on the bass strings). Completely useless for decent bends and vibrato, and applicable about 40% of the time when left-hand muting is needed (depending on genre, of course). Fretting with the thumb is useful in, I would say, relatively few situations (putting an F# on the bottom of your D major is an example of somewhere it works very well), but has its uses and is very much worth learning, especially alongside barre chords.

Is it possible to play a D chord without hitting the bottom two strings? Yes, perfectly! Is it sensible to refuse to learn a widely applicable technique - and the D chord is a relatively basic example of left-hand muting - because it's easier to learn "never do this" than "learn how and when to do this"? I would argue no. If all you ever aspire to play is metal, then fine, you probably won't use your thumb much except for leverage for vibrato/bends. For cowboy chords like this, it cuts one thing from your list of things you need to focus on and frees up your strumming dynamics.

I feel like there's an assumption made by a lot of metal players on here that the techniques used for metal are applicable and ideal universally; it gives me a headache.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Jan 5, 2016,
#7
Is it just me or does the A string sound okay played open during a D chord? I routinely pick the open A string when fingerstyling the alternating bass on the D chord and it sounds groovy.
#8
Quote by TobusRex
Is it just me or does the A string sound okay played open during a D chord? I routinely pick the open A string when fingerstyling the alternating bass on the D chord and it sounds groovy.

Yup. It's the fifth of the chord so it gives a relatively tame inversion, with much less potential to get gnarly than most. Depends if you want it more textured or cleaner.
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#10
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Yup. It's the fifth of the chord so it gives a relatively tame inversion, with much less potential to get gnarly than most. Depends if you want it more textured or cleaner.


Woot!
#11
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I feel like there's an assumption made by a lot of metal players on here that the techniques used for metal are applicable and ideal universally; it gives me a headache.


As long as someone doesn't tell me to play fusion with only downpicks I'm good.

I think it's okay to use your thumb, but in this case I'd say it's worth it to just do it properly and accurately. The strings might still resonate and murk up the sound a bit regardless so muting them is beneficial either way, but why not both? Being accurate and knowing how to mute properly are both pretty good skills.
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#12
Quote by Kevätuhri
As long as someone doesn't tell me to play fusion with only downpicks I'm good.

I think it's okay to use your thumb, but in this case I'd say it's worth it to just do it properly and accurately. The strings might still resonate and murk up the sound a bit regardless so muting them is beneficial either way, but why not both? Being accurate and knowing how to mute properly are both pretty good skills.

I think you and I have a different idea of what "properly" means here, but yeah it's worth learning to do both things. However, if I'm playing a cowboy chord like this the chances are it's going to go with big strums from the elbow or (much more likely in my case, but not necessarily overall) something more percussive. Muted strings will aid either cause. And, especially in the strumming situation, the muted strings give you more to work with dynamics-wise, since you then have the possibility of strumming all six strings and getting a more powerful sound, among other things.
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#13
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I think you and I have a different idea of what "properly" means here, but yeah it's worth learning to do both things. However, if I'm playing a cowboy chord like this the chances are it's going to go with big strums from the elbow or (much more likely in my case, but not necessarily overall) something more percussive. Muted strings will aid either cause. And, especially in the strumming situation, the muted strings give you more to work with dynamics-wise, since you then have the possibility of strumming all six strings and getting a more powerful sound, among other things.


Maybe "properly" is the wrong word, but anyway, if TS feels like he doesn't want to use his thumb, he should just learn it the other way. Neither option really is better than the other. Good point on the dynamics, the problem I have with the D chord is that the high range means it might turn out thin. Depends on your style and equipment, of course.
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#14
With a pick, I would just strum the strings I want to ring, or maybe mute with my palm. But you can fret a D chord in open position in such a way that only the low E is free to ring open, and then just mute that.

It would probably be tricky for you to do though. It's a bit more tough of a grip, and you'd definitely have to practice it a lot before you could fret it cleanly in timely fashion.

You could also just play it in the other grip rooted on the A string, the open A major style grip. It's not really that far away. I find it's better to know as many ways to quickly and easily play what you want, so it's always on demand for what you want, whether you want proximity, or a different timbre or whatever.

So, you should sort out what you are trying to do, if you really want to be a flexible player. And that to me is picking practice.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jan 5, 2016,
#15
Quote by fingrpikingood

You could also just play it in the other grip rooted on the A string, the open A major style grip. .


This to me, answers my question in a sense. I have never taken a guitar lesson. And just been playing a bit over a year (I do have serious goals though as performer/ artist). I am completely unaware there is such a thing as different grips. Perhaps that explains why I see muting with the thumb as practically impossible. Because it seems to be with the grip I use (the way I taught myself to play)
#16
Oh well it's good to know that accurate strumming is indeed possible with time, as I thought it wasn't with where I am with the guitar right now. I felt I was aiming lower than I would on a G or C chord. But when I paid close attention, I noticed that the low strings were still in fact sounding much of the time.

by the way I am a pure strummer (at this point) who doesn't use a pick
#17
By the way, playing the chord with fingers 2,3,4 seems like it would have a lot of merit as it would allow the first finger free to mute. But I don't see a lot of support for that. Is there any reason?

Personally, I used to practice d with that fingering quite a bit. Prretty much gave up because I was so often not getting cooperation from my pinky and playing a sloppy chord. Perhaps should keep at it tho?

D is undoubtedly my most played chord, so I figure it's a good one to get right
#18
Quote by panman36
This to me, answers my question in a sense. I have never taken a guitar lesson. And just been playing a bit over a year (I do have serious goals though as performer/ artist). I am completely unaware there is such a thing as different grips. Perhaps that explains why I see muting with the thumb as practically impossible. Because it seems to be with the grip I use (the way I taught myself to play)


I have at least 3 different chord shapes for every chord, and for some of them, they would look the same on a basic diagram, but I have multiple fingerings for those which are handy depending on the situation.

Guitar is a lot of things that are difficult that you need to make easy. So, workarounds can be ok, but if you are aiming for a certain skill level, you'll need to sort it out eventually anyway.
#19
Quote by panman36
By the way, playing the chord with fingers 2,3,4 seems like it would have a lot of merit as it would allow the first finger free to mute. But I don't see a lot of support for that. Is there any reason?

Personally, I used to practice d with that fingering quite a bit. Prretty much gave up because I was so often not getting cooperation from my pinky and playing a sloppy chord. Perhaps should keep at it tho?

D is undoubtedly my most played chord, so I figure it's a good one to get right


I never use that fingering, because it's a dead end. I could mute with the index maybe, but I could muting so many ways anyway, and I can develop control that needs less muting. There is no alternative to being able to play notes higher up the neck. So, all of my freedom to embellish or solo, or whatever, is all gone with that fingering.

There are a couple I use for that shape, but that's never one of them.
#20
Quote by panman36
Oh well it's good to know that accurate strumming is indeed possible with time, as I thought it wasn't with where I am with the guitar right now. ...

by the way I am a pure strummer (at this point) who doesn't use a pick


Not sure if this will work as well strumming with fingerpicking (I use a pick), but here's an exercise that my instructor had me do that I thought helped me with my 'strumming accuracy'. He called it a 'split strum'. Using an open G and/or E chord, strum a 1+2+3+4+ pattern (One and Two and... etc...), with the 'ands' being upward strums. But, here's the catch - Alternate between strumming just the top 3 and bottom 3 strings. Start with one chord and do the first 2 beats on the top 3 strings, then the last 2 on the bottom 3 strings, with the up-beats starting at the D string for the first 2 beats and the high E string for the last 2. Mix up the pattern and switch chords as you get more comfortable. The (basic) idea was to get your hand to do the smaller/finer movements and your arm to move your hand into the position it needs to be in.
#21
I never really noticed how I played it, but looking at it now, I tend to mute the 6th string with my thumb and just ignore the A string. This also allows me to add in a low F# on the 6th string with my thumb easily.
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#22
Learning to mute strings with your thumb is invaluable. I know it seems hard right now but later on you'll be so glad you went the extra step.

It might be helpful to practice playing an F chord that isn't barred.
EABDGe
133511

Use your index finger to hold down the 1's on both the G and e strings, and wrap your thumb around to hold down the 1 on the E string. This can be difficult but it'll help you get used to your thumb wrapping around the neck more to get into a position where it can mute strings.

I hope this helps! Good Luck!
#23
As others have said, you just need to practice and get more accurate with your strumming. It's not unrealistic at all. With a decent amount of practice, you should be able to strum without even looking, and only touch the exact strings that you want to. But also, muting the closest non-used string with the same fingers you're using to fret the chord is a very good habit to get into. At this point I don't even think about it, but just by reflex, any time I'm fretting a chord that has unused lower strings, the lowest finger in the chord is making solid contact with the side of the closest unused string, keeping it from moving at all.

Regarding the thumb thing. Personally, I'll lay my thumb over to mute the low E string, if it's really needed and my hand position for whatever chord I'm playing makes it feel convenient and natural. But I've never been able to actually fret notes with my thumb. I've been playing for over ten years, watched dozens of instructional videos, have had other players try to help me with it, and tried it countless times, with several different neck shapes and sizes, even. My thumb knuckles just won't let it get that far, even with the most simple and common thumb chord fingerings, such as the F that jacksonw94 described. With my other fingers in position fretting a chord, I can't get enough pressure down with the thumb to fret the low string. My thumb seems to hit a wall, and I feel like I'll break it off before it frets the note cleanly. But that's just me. I've seen countless other players do it with apparent ease, so it's definitely doable. Maybe my thumb is just too long. Or maybe it's not as flexible as it should be, having never really healed properly from an injury sustained playing basketball in middle school. Who knows? Anyway, rant over. Just keep practicing.
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#24
I appreciate the advice. A lot of it seems to be that just strumming the top four or 5 strings is possible with practice but that practicing muting the bottom couple strings is also good practice? I feel like incorporating my thumb at ALL would set me back with what I am able to play smoothly right now (mostly open chords, top of the neck). but i'll keep that in mind. thanks
Last edited by panman36 at Jan 16, 2016,