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Fretting Hand Muting Techniques (Guitar Lesson)

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Dan Sugarman

Fretting Hand Muting Techniques

Switching our muting attention to the fretting hand, Dan gives us the essential techniques we need to get the cleanest result.

Taught by Dan Sugarman in Sugarman's Shredding Revolution seriesLength: 14:52Difficulty: 2.5 of 5

Fretting Hand Muting Techniques

You might think we’re done with muting techniques, but we’ve only just begin! Up next is “Fretting Hand Muting Techniques”

After learning ways to clean up any noise that may be coming from the picking hand, let’s discover ways to minimize and mute out any noise that may be coming from the approach or escape in our fretting hand… These two hands working together to keep things under control is EXACTLY what 2 hand sync is about, though this is the piece that I’ve not heard enough people talk about. With that being said, let’s dive into the Fretting Hand Muting Techniques.

In the last lesson, we focused solely on things that our picking hand could be doing to help better our chances at cleaner sounding playing… Now I want to focus on the ways that our fretting hand can help aid us in this. These exercises will help you master the sensation of all 6 fretting hand muting techniques in one simple and short riff idea… Then I’ll expand that into a second riff that will include all 4 of the previous picking hand muting techniques into the mix as well resulting in 9 muting techniques happening within 4 measures of music.

As a point of reference, here are the fretting hand muting techniques we'll be talking about and using in this lesson:

  1. Finger Fat: using the underbelly of the index finger to mute out strings above (in pitch). This usually creates a new type of relationship with the strings, make sure your fretting hand index’s fist knuckle is magnetized towards your headstock for optimal placement and leverage).
  2. Squeegee: using a finger (usually index) to mute out unwanted string noise usually during a bend or vibrato.
  3. Sloppy Joe: using the upper side of the index to be placed sloppily on purpose so as to mute the closest string below you in pitch.
  4. The Pulse: using the speed of light pulse idea to create a pulsing clean staccato note, or used effectively to kill any note in any setting.
  5. Click Picking: used mostly in the metal world for rhythm intricacies and interior beats, you can create some cool rhythmic effects with this idea - you could look at it like a playing application for the pulse technique… you’re essentially “playing” the notes in the rest position to create a click sound rather then going to the rest position for silence.
  6. The Roll: using the finger like a rolling pin - with only one small edge pressing a note in playing position while it is essentially in rest position around it, as your roll through it.

First, we’ll be on fret 1 on the A string, using the pulse to get the exact note value we want, we’ll be pulsing 16th notes, and then I’ll remain in contact with the string in rest position and fill in some of the interior beats by striking the string with my picking hand to make a click sound… This is a really cool way to create a percussive interior rhythm to your riffs, as well as a great way to practice 2 hand sync with these new muting techniques. I’ll also be using the underside of my index finger to mute out all the higher strings - I call this finger fat muting.

Then I’ll hit fret 4, open string, and then use same techniques as before on frets 1, and 0 on a down-stroke followed by a second downstroke for the click pick, and then we close it out with a index finger roll from the A string, rolling back to the E string… when playing the A string, the E string is essentially muted by the sloppy joe, then we roll on the round-ness of our finger to the E string, thus muting out the A string with our finger fat. Then fret 4 and then an open string It sounds like this slowly, and then up to speed.

For Measure 2: I want you to notice the way that I’m strategically placing my index finger as I strum these first few octave chords… I have my index finger slightly placed sloppily so that the top of it is touching the string above it (the string lower in pitch)… I call that the Sloppy Joe… there’s tons of applications for it, but this is a great intro to it.

You may have noticed that we’ve changed keys here - we’re now playing in G harmonic minor, another one of my favorite keys to play in a drop tuning. Also, notice the way that it changes the way that my index finger arches so that I can use the underside of my index finger to mute out all the strings higher in pitch to the note that I’m playing… This means that I am virtually muting out all the strings with one finger (string all 6 strings playing only 1 note) I call this Finger Fat muting. Note, There is still a curve in this, but it is small and designed this way for a reason - So know that it isn’t a broken arch - that looks like this but it isn’t our typical arch that the other fingers have as well - this is something I am doing strategically and on purpose so take note!

The first 3 octave chords in measure 1 use the sloppy joe and finger fat to mute out everything, but on the 4th chord, I remove the sloppy joe so we can get that low note droning over our octave, but I’m still using the Finger Fat to mute the highest strings - then I slide up to fret 19 with my 3rd finger on the G string, using my thumb butt to mute out the lower strings as I ascend up this D major b6 by rolling on fret 19, then a hammer pull on fret 17, 18 on the high e string, then rolling back down 3 strings - notice the way I roll to mute the notes I’m passing, then supplementing with excess fingers on my picking hand, while using the finger fat on my fretting hand to bring it all home. Play this slow and make sure everything is lining up nicely!

Up next is a riff that will include ALL 10 muting techniques we’ve discussed into a 4 measure riff that loops. Measure 5 is in rhythm playing position, we’ll be up-stroking the first note so that we can accent it - notice the way that I’m also using my upstroke to tilt on the axis of my 1st point of contact to open the string up EVER SO SLIGHTLY so that it isn’t palm muting at all, then when I do my down strokes, or double down strokes on the low E string, they are palm muted and heavy - thus making my accented melody popping out on the A string that much more in your face.

I’ll be using the finger fat and sloppy joe on the first note, and then using the finger squeegee with my index at the very same my that I put my pinky down on fret 12. Then I’ll hit 9 again with the same techniques, and then do a cool little half picked half legato line to close out the measure - this line includes hammer ons, pull offs, sloppy joe, finger fat, and then closes with a squeegeed note on the g string, fret 11.

Then measure 6 is in lead playing position so that all my notes get their full tonal value. This is a cool legato line, starting with the first 6 note legato pattern we learned with the stow away going on, but I pick once with a pull off, then click again to start it up on the hammer to give a unique accent. I then descend down a 3 NPS line, before moving to the position behind it and do a pattern of 5’s with a double pick again for the accent with a stow away below, so its cocked and loaded for me to descending down fret 7 on the b, g and d string with a roll and excess finger muting.

Then we go back to the same riff idea that was in measure 5 with a slight variation, because we ended in this position we’ll use our 3rd finger on the first note, then continue the same way until we get to the legato line… this time we’re going to alternate pick it back down, with a heavier palm mute (rhythm position digging) and then we’ll do almost the exact same riff as measure 1 of this whole lesson, with the click picking/pulse idea, ending with a directional line with a thumb mute to close it - notice on the loop that you’ll need to mute that open G string with your finger fat or else you’re in the mud zone!

Right now, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed realizing there could be more then 1 muting technique - take these exercises slow, taking into account all the notes and details… Practice connecting them in your own creative ways, with and without my riff ideas so that you can perfect it in your own voice. Marinate on this one, and review this lesson again if you need it!

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Sugarman's Shredding Revolution

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Sugarman's Shredding Revolution is all about discovering and creating ways to develop a new and unique level of understanding of two-hand synchronization, which is one of the core foundations of clean playing.

Series IntroductionLesson 1

Series Introduction

Dan Sugarman gives us an introduction and preview to his series - Sugarman's Shredding Revolution.

Length: 5:13 Difficulty: 0.0 FREE
The Speed of LightLesson 2

The Speed of Light

Dan begins his series by revolutionizing the way we approach our instrument. In this lesson, Dan shares a concept he calls The Speed of "Light".

Length: 10:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The PulseLesson 3

The Pulse

Finding the "Goldilocks" zone is key to getting your hands in the best position possible to shred, by finding the right amount of pressure to apply to the strings. Dan helps us find the touch that's "just...

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Speed of Light Application ExerciseLesson 4

Speed of Light Application Exercise

In this lesson, we put into practice what we've talked about so far in this series. This exercise is designed to help you find your Goldilocks Zone, and practice it enough to put it on auto pilot!

Length: 7:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Perfect Practice PostureLesson 5

Perfect Practice Posture

Contrary to what some say, good posture feeds into good technique, which feeds into great guitar playing. In this lesson Dan gives us examples of good posture for two different ways of holding the guitar.

Length: 5:21 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
50/50 Finger FrenzyLesson 6

50/50 Finger Frenzy

Distributing the right amount of pressure throughout your hand is a key foundation to achieving two hand sync. In this lesson, Dan analyzes this concept and helps to get us on the right track.

Length: 12:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chromatic Finger CrawlLesson 7

Chromatic Finger Crawl

This lesson is designed to work on the hand to brain connection during the string change, and to help you "fall" into position as opposed to "flail" into position.

Length: 2:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Finger IQ: Hammer-OnsLesson 8

Finger IQ: Hammer-Ons

Now it's time to sprinkle some legato playing into the proceedings. Starting with hammer ons, Dan shows us how to use "weight" not "strength" to achieve this technique.

Length: 6:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Finger IQ: Pull OffsLesson 9

Finger IQ: Pull Offs

Now Dan shows us the next element of legato playing: Pull Offs.

Length: 3:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
True Legato: Three Notes Per StringLesson 10

True Legato: Three Notes Per String

Using hammer-ons and pull-offs that we learned in the previous lessons, Dan now gives us an introduction to true legato - using three note per string patterns.

Length: 5:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Home PositionLesson 11

Home Position

Now that we've spent a good deal of time on the fretting hand, it's time to turn our attention to the picking hand. Dan starts with examining how to get the best tone from our instrument, using what he...

Length: 11:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Home Position ApplicationLesson 12

Home Position Application

In this lesson, Dan helps us apply some exercises to the home application that will help it become second nature in no time!

Length: 8:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm and KonokolLesson 13

Rhythm and Konokol

A solid rhythmic foundation is a must when addressing the basics of good technique. In this lesson, Dan shows a very fresh and cool way to approach rhythm, with the ancient Indian method: Konokol.

Length: 7:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Time and Rhythm TableLesson 14

Time and Rhythm Table

Now, Dan moves the Konokol rhythm system that we looked at in the last lesson to the guitar, exploring different rhythm configurations along the way.

Length: 3:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Polymeter and PolyrhythmLesson 15

Polymeter and Polyrhythm

When it comes to complex rhythm, understanding the difference between polyrhythm and polymeter are very important. In this lesson, Dan gives us a crash course on how to tell the difference.

Length: 3:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 1Lesson 16

Sync or Swim Part 1

Now it's time to put our hands together (so to speak). We're bringing what we've worked on for the left hand, and what we've worked on for the right hand together to get a firm grasp of our two hand sync....

Length: 8:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 2Lesson 17

Sync or Swim Part 2

In this lesson, Dan continues to emphasize two hand sync, adding the new ideas of inside picking and outside picking.

Length: 10:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 3Lesson 18

Sync or Swim Part 3

Now Dan introduces some 2 string patterns into our two hand sync exercises. In each lesson, he's ratcheting up the difficulty level!

Length: 3:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 4Lesson 19

Sync or Swim Part 4

In this lesson, Dan explores more two string patterns, this time emphasizing odd two string patterns. Finger twisters and brain teasers for sure!

Length: 8:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 5Lesson 20

Sync or Swim Part 5

Endurance is the name of the game in this lesson. Dan shows us one of his favorite techniques he calls "Phalange Laps".

Length: 4:04 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Rhythm vs. Lead PlayingLesson 21

Rhythm vs. Lead Playing

Subtle hand positioning can go a long way in determining the proper position for lead playing or rhythm playing. Here, Dan analyzes this concept in great detail, getting you on the right path and putting...

Length: 4:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Picking Hand Muting TechniquesLesson 22

Picking Hand Muting Techniques

Now we get to muting techniques. Starting off, Dan gives us all the details on muting techniques for the picking hand. These are a must if you want to truly reign in that beast of an instrument!

Length: 12:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Fretting Hand Muting TechniquesLesson 23

Fretting Hand Muting Techniques

Switching our muting attention to the fretting hand, Dan gives us the essential techniques we need to get the cleanest result.

Length: 14:52 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Learning to Fish for OurselvesLesson 24

Learning to Fish for Ourselves

In this lesson, Dan teaches a great way to analyze our own playing, focusing in on our mistakes and how to correct them. It starts with quarantining our playing.

Length: 9:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
NuancesLesson 25


What gives you your unique voice on the guitar? Well, there are a number of things that go into that equation. In this lesson, Dan takes a look at some of the key techniques that will go a long way in...

Length: 18:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 1 - Rhythm vs. Lead PlayingLesson 26

Substrate 1 - Rhythm vs. Lead Playing

Now Dan will help us focus on growing our weaknesses. First up is Rhythm vs. Lead Playing.

Length: 5:28 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 2 - LegatoLesson 27

Substrate 2 - Legato

Up next in working on strengths and weaknesses? Legato.

Length: 3:49 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 3 - Alternate PickingLesson 28

Substrate 3 - Alternate Picking

Up next in the world of substrates - Alternate Picking.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 4 - Directional PickingLesson 29

Substrate 4 - Directional Picking

The last substrate Dan takes us through is Directional Picking.

Length: 7:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Creative Application of All TechniquesLesson 30

Creative Application of All Techniques

In the last lesson of the series, Dan gives us a musical, full band exercise that ties in all of the techniques that we've learned throughout the series.

Length: 6:25 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
JamPlay Interview with Dan SugarmanLesson 31

JamPlay Interview with Dan Sugarman

Who is Dan Sugarman? Get to know a little about Dan - his background, his music, and what drives him to excel at guitar in this JamPlay interview.

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Dan Sugarman

About Dan Sugarman View Full Biography

Dan Sugarman is a 26 year old guitarist, producer, teacher and songwriter hailing from the South Bay of Los Angeles, CA. His tenacity and dedication to the art of music and guitar led him to the lead guitar position in the internationally touring band, As Blood Runs Black. Now as a solo artist, Dan continues to work on his original music being released through Patreon, and is currently producing and engineering other bands & artists at Sugartone Studios, and composing for film & television. He also maintains an ever-growing student body as a private guitar teacher, mentor, and educator in the crafts of songwriting, creativity, and modern day recording techniques.

Dan is currently working on his "living album", Inside Out - Part I, available on and completing an album for his new group A Mind Made Me, featuring singer//actor Sarah J Bartholomew.

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