To mute or not to mute?


New member
hi guys, got another problem.

all along i was taught to play my open chords all 6 strings, regardless of what chord it was.
Then recently i realized that the 'correct'(i won't say its the correct way since i can't hear much difference whether or not if i play all 6 strings) way to play the open chords is to strum the strings that are only needed (e.g 'D' Open chord starting from the 4th, D string).

After doing some google, i found out that there are two ways to play open chords.

One, is to mute strings that aren't needed with the thumb. I tried doing it and found that my thumb often exerts too much strength, causing the string to press on the fret instead of muting it. Two, don't strum/touch the string at all. Found this even more difficult since its hard to estimate which string i'm supposed to start off with.

sorry if i'm asking something very basic but i'm confused as to which to follow. So guys please do tell me which is the right way to play the open chords. thanks.
Like you said, there is no right way. But I think it is a good habit and very useful, although subtle, skill to be able to control exactly what notes you want to play instead of blindly strumming away. You may not hear "much difference" now but the way a chord is voiced differently definitely matters, even if as a listener you don't exactly know what is different but you can feel it.

If your thumb is exerting too much strength, fixing it should just be a matter of practice. I use my thumb and index finger a lot for muting. Right hand technique is also important. One way to practice this is to strum the bass or root of the chord separately from the higher notes. Not very sure how to explain it but an example that comes to mind is the intro to John Mayer's "My Stupid Mouth".
in music theory, chords are made up of a series of notes that sound harmonious together with different degree of intervals in between them,

If strictly theory wise, chords are just this series of notes being played together, no other notes should be in it.

When comes to geetar playing, if we were to follow strictly with thereotical formulas of chords, we be prolly screwed in the playing being too robotic at times

Imho, its good practice to work on muting strings thats not needed to ring out. Since extra note ringing out will add another note to the series of notes that make up the chord, if it sound harmonious in relative to the rest of the instrument, chords/scale progression of the music, its prolly no big deal. But if that extra note is causing dissonance, then its prolly good practice to mute it.

Other then the thumb, we can also practice muting strings with the picking hand as well.
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