Natural harmonics causing legato to be dirty in certain regios of the fretboard

That’s the problem I’m facing now. When I’m doing pull-offs, especially between the 12th to 15th fret, it causes a lot of unwanted noise with distortion. I know I can kinda make it better by resting my other picking hand fingers on the strings as I descend, but is there anything I can do to completely get rid of the noise? Something with the fretting hand maybe?

Thank you


get a fret wrap and see if that cleans it up if its harmonics it should deaden them or go old school and wrap your picking hand behind the fretting hand and just use your left hand legato. or if you lay your first finger fret hand flatter across the strings not played it should deaden them too unless your over nodes and then thats not gonna work either


A fret wrap of sorts will definitely help (I had shoulder surgery about two years ago and grabbed a few during recovery so I could at least continue to practice soloing legato, without a fretting hand), but you can do a LOT just working on muting technique on your own.

Watch a few Satriani live videos - the guy is super clean, with no fret wraps or anything.

Basically, yes. You can mute with your picking hand, but you can also accomplish a lot muting with your fretting hand, so when you descend from, say, the G string to the D string, allow the fleshy part of your finger to also rest against the G string while fretting the D. Sort of tough to describe, but definitely doable in practice.

I’m not as good as this as I’d like to be or should be, and as I’ve really grown a lot in the last two years as a player I’ve become more cognizant of this in my own playing and have been more conscious at stamping it out, less harmonics than just sort of background rumble from adjacent strings being unmuted. It takes some thought at first, but it CAN be done.

EDIT - one other observation- harmonics become a lot more pronounced at higher gain levels (as does sympathetic vibrations of unmuted strings). Lots of gain can therefore make for good muting practice, but on the flipside becoming too reliant on gain for compression and even note-to-note response in legato playing can make it awfully hard to keep your playing audibly clean. It’s definitely worth rethinking how much gain you’re using - I’m generally around 1 o’clock on a Mesa Mark V myself, and don’t go for a totally saturated sound, which makes it a little easier to manage this stuff (though it takes pretty consistent dynamics). I’ve paradoxically found practicing legato unplugged to make sure I was really getting cleanly articulated notes really helful for smoothing out my legato and getting me to a point where I didn’t need a ton of gain to make it sound musical.


Mate, I have similar problem, especially when using pinky. Since it lacks some tendons I use it more as a ‘stick connected to my palm’ ) Which leads to innacuracy, which in turn leads to that pull-off sound even when I don’t need a pull-off ((
In some cases I use tricky position that allows me to mute the string with index or middle fingers. But sometimes it’s not an option.

By the way, if you have any way to share some video, this would probably help a lot. :+1:

I use my index finger on the fretting hand to mute the string directly below the one I’m doing legato on (as well as actually fretting the note on the string I’m playing) it also mutes all of the higher strings.

For example if I’m playing on the G string I will concentrate on muting the B string (during practice), muting on the high E string then sort of takes care of it’self. By concentrating on this you can get it all sounding real quiet. Also it then doesn’t matter if your pinky or other fingers hit the B string as it’s already muted.

I use my picking hand to mute all the lower strings

Personally, and I know this may sound counterintuitive, but with really high gain, I find the amp does the noise suppression for me. We posted an example of this yesterday to the Instagram account. There are no fret wraps here:

I know this is a picking lick, but I get the same effect with legato sequences. As long as the notes are loud, they will hit the gain circuit in the amp and the noise floor is immediately pushed down. You only hear the noise again when you stop playing.

For sure, you can’t be banging into surrounding strings really hard. But you’ll notice I’m using a flexed wrist form here where I’m not touching them at all. So if I’m playing descending lines, especially, they stay nice and quiet. Also, as you descend lower, your fretting hand automatically shuts off all the upper strings. At least mine do, and I don’t do anything conscious to enable this. But if you don’t notice the noise shutting off dramatically as you descend, then lay the fingers a little flatter.

On a related note, I’ve noticed recently while filming these types of clips that I do pulloffs with a lot of pluck, almost like left hand pizzicato on violin. There’s some slow motion in this clip where you can see close up how hard the string plucks, even though I’m not actually picking it at that moment:

I never noticed that before, and it was cool to see. By contrast, my girlfriend is a violinist and I’ve noticed she can’t do pulloffs. The ‘pluck’ aspect, because they don’t learn it that way during legato playing, only during pizzicato playing. the bow supplies all the energy so they just lift straight up. And that doesn’t supply enough loudness on guitar to keep the string going.

Point being, doing ‘loud’ legato via pull-offs, especially during descending lines where you have lots of pull-offs, can help make your lead lines louder than the noise, giving you more of the gain-circuit noise reduction effect.

Can’t get on IG from work, but if you’re describing what I think you are, I do the same and this is one of the reasons I’m a fan of spending at least SOME legato practice time unplugged - getting a really clear and articulated “attack” to your pulloffs really helps even out the note-to-note dynamics in legato runs without forcing you to rely on gain or some other source of compression to keep things “even.”

Yes I do plucky pull offs, in fact this is the only way I can keep it going for long periods, so when it starts fading ‘pluck’ a bit more on your pull offs!
It’s true I don’t really have to concentrate/practice muting high strings with the fretting hand it just sort of takes care of itself but it did really help me practicing muting the string directly below the string I’m playing with my index finger on the fretting hand since this is the string you are most likely to bang into.
Just checked and I definitely mute the lower strings with the palm of my fretting hand, but only very lightly.

Sorry for taking so long to reply to this thread again, I injured both my wrists and got somewhat depressed that I couldn’t practice.

The noise issue only happens when my index finger, which is supposed to be muting the higher strings, is touching them at harmonic nodes. In other situations the muting works fine, but it isn’t enough when there’s harmonics.

I’m gonna try using my right hand to mute in these specific scenarios, grabbing the neck with it behind where I’m fretting, but I think it’s possible to not do that and still get a sufficiently clean sound, it’s just that I’m not accurate enough yet.

Thanks for the suggestions!