Anybody wanting to learn to play blues guitar is going to have to get their head and hands around damping eventually, even those that have their sights firmly fixed on becoming an outstanding lead player and soloist will find themselves beginning to start dampening naturally eventually, due to the fact it makes the guitar an incredibly diverse instrument in the process. By playing dampened strings, we are able to create a driving rhythm, almost percussive in the way it sounds, combine damping with some pinch harmonics for some real attitude. There are two main ways to dampen a string that people who want to learn to play blues guitar are going to need to master.
Right Hand Dampening
Most often the heal of the hand will be used to dampen with the right hand, although some people find it more comfortable to use the edge of their hand. Right hand dampening produces the most percussive, staccato form of sound, great for those down and dirty shuffle rhythms, and for blues rock inspired rhythms. Right hand dampening also works extremely well for acoustic players, as the resonance in the hollow body allows the note to sound out fully, although with a dampened tone.
Left Hand Dampening
I am going to admit right now that I am terrible at this technique, I am far too sloppy, and left hand dampening is primarily about precision. By using the fingertips or edges of the fingers to damped some strings, whilst allowing other to ring out clearly, you can play a combination of driving rhythm and complex treble loaded passage. I contrast, if you are playing barre chords, you can simply lift the bar slightly to damp the entire chord, even I can manage this! A technique much loved by the rock players.
Dampening for perfection
Here is a very cool tip for all your people who want to learn blues guitar. Dampening can hide your mistakes! Personally I developed this habit very early on, I naturally dampen anything that is not supposed to be happening, by this I mean that if I am playing a series of complex double-stops on the top 3/4 strings, I will automatically damped the bass strings so that even if I strike them by mistake, they will not ring out. With a little practice this becomes second nature, and can really tidy up your playing.
If you are serious and want to learn how to play blues guitar, then jump on these techniques straight away, incorporate them into your personal playing style as early as possible, so that they become a natural thing to you. Most players begin to dampen automatically, without being taught, it is far from easy but it is a very natural thing to do. If you are having problem with your dampening techniques, try a shuffle rhythm, testing out the effects of both right and left hand dampening, and the sounds.
Learn more free blues guitar tips: Learn To Play Blues Guitar
Mac Wheeler is a contributor to http://www.learntoplaybluesguitar.net where he provides blues guitar tips and advice.