Why String Noise Makes Your Rock Guitar Riffs Sound Bad (And How To Fix It)

by Tom Hess

Your rock guitar riffs sound like a mess when you are unable to eliminate unwanted string noise from your playing. This noise blends together with the notes in your riff, making it impossible to hear it clearly. When you don’t get rid of excess noise in your playing, your riffs become nearly unlistenable.

Your rock guitar riffs sound intense, badass AND clean at the same time when you follow the approaches in this video:

You play clean riffs consistently by doing these 4 things (at the same time):

Rest Your Pick On The Next String – After you’ve played a string, mute the string below it (lower in pitch) by resting your pick against it.

Muting With Your Thumb – Use your picking hand thumb (as seen in the video) to mute the string below the string being muted with your pick.

Muting With Your Fretting Hand Index Finger – Use the side of your fretting hand index finger to mute any unplayed strings above the one(s) you're playing. For example, if you are playing a double stop on the second and third string, lightly place the side of your index finger on the first string.

Muting With Any Free Fingers On Your Picking Hand – Use any free fingers on your picking hand to mute unwanted string noise by lightly laying them on any strings above the ones being played. This serves as extra protection against string noise in addition to your fretting hand index finger.

This exercise helps you master these muting techniques:

Think of three very short rock guitar riffs that are different from each other in some way. For example, using double stops versus single notes, using two notes per string versus three notes per string, etc. Then practice using the muting techniques above on each one. When you can do this, think of three more riffs and repeat the process. This helps you master these muting techniques in different situations so you never play sloppy.

Learn 4 things you must know in order to become a great classic rock guitarist.

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