Q&A: 8 Tips to Avoid Muting Strings

Lesson #543 • Mar 6, 2024

Today I’ll answer a question that came in twice (!) this past week from members of the Song Notes community. The topic is muting strings while playing chords – and how to stop doing this in situations where you don’t intend to. I’ll give a bunch of finger placement tips to keep in mind playing chords, and it’s my hope that at least some of them help any of you who struggle with unintentionally muffled or muted strings.

Let me say – there’s likely no immediate fix to this issue. But! Don’t let that get you down. Keep these suggestions in mind during your practice, and with consistent effort I do believe you’ll make the progress you want to see. As I note in the video, a lot of this comes down to the finer points of muscle memory and precise positioning of your fretting hand fingers. Keep picking up the guitar – even if a few minutes every day – and the progress will assuredly come. With that said, let’s get to it! Here’s what I cover in this video:

  • 0:00 Lesson Overview
  • 1:17 Arching Your Fingers
  • 2:01 Fretting with Finger Tips
  • 2:59 Calluses Will Help
  • 3:33 Finger Position Within the Fret
  • 5:01 Avoid Pushing Too Hard
  • 6:01 Developing a Sense of “Feel”
  • 8:45 Playing One String at a Time
  • 9:44 Practicing Chord Fragments
  • 11:09 Summary & Final Advice

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Questions That Inspired This Video

Exercises for Playing a Cleaner G Major Chord?

My question is about the G major chord and being able to play it cleanly. No matter which finger positioning I use, either my middle or ring finger on the low E string also pushes down the A string a bit. I’m guessing it probably has to do with my finger strength or dexterity, but is there an exercise or exercises you would recommend in this situation? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much! – Lindsay I.

Always Looking Down at Strings…

I haven’t played for years. My brother lent me two different acoustic guitars but they felt too big. Tried my grandson’s electric and thought it might work, so I bought one to get started and limbered up on. But my fingers are still fat and short, so I mute strings. I need to look down to see the strings and where to place my fingers. Any suggestions to eliminate this issue? I joined because of how well you explained in the YouTube lesson I found. Thanks, – Tayna C.

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