‘Ukulele Chord Shapes eBook
“If you have questions about ukulele chords, Chord Shapes has the answers.” ~ James Hill

Muting Chords and Notes

Muting your ukulele playing at the right times can really change the feel a song, and that can be important. You can mute notes and also chords. When I say “mute” I mean stop the note or chord before it would normally trail off. Muting can also refer to cleaning up your playing by holding unused strings so they don’t make noise. If that is the kind of muting you are looking for, check out “Playing Clean“.

Lift Muting

Muting a chord is especially important if you want to play reggae on the ukulele. You wouldn’t hear Bob Marley letting his chord strikes go away on their own – choke off those notes! This is also great for adding “pop” to picking pieces.

It’s easiest to mute a chord if you are using a closed position shape or “barre” chord. This allows for all of your strings to be covered by your fingers. Now to mute the chord, just strum and then lift your fingers up enough to stop the notes. It’s going to take some practice to get a fast strum-lift which turns into a quick “pop”. Instead of holding the chord and only lifting off for the mute, it’s easier to think of it as holding the mute and then just adding the chord when you need it. So you keep your fingers right over the proper frets for the chord, but don’t push down except when you want to sound the chord.

Try this reggae beat with a mute after every chord (upstrums are widely used for this kind of playing). You will be playing on beat 2 and 4. The numbers above the tab are the beat counts.

.....1  2  3  4    1  2  3  4    1  2  3  4    1  2  3  4
A |-----3-----3-|-----3-----3-|-----5-----5-|-----5-----5-|
E |-----3-----3-|-----3-----3-|-----5-----5-|-----5-----5-|
C |-----4-----4-|-----4-----4-|-----5-----5-|-----5-----5-|
G |-----5-----5-|-----5-----5-|-----7-----7-|-----7-----7-|

Of course, you don’t have to use this muting technique just for reggae. This can add definition and control to any style of music.

Pinky Muting

The next way to mute is with your pinky. With technique, instead of lifting your fingers, you just let your pinky fall and silence the strings. If you learn this, you can play some pretty funky stuff.

How to pinky mute:

  1. Pick something that doesn’t use your pinky and hover your pinky over the strings in standby.
  2. When you want to mute, let it drop onto the strings.

You have to work a little harder at this muting technique, so it’s not practical all the time for muting closed position chords. Use it instead for open chords and weird rhythms. You can practice on the same chord pattern as above, just play the open form chords (C – 0003, Dm – 2210).