String dampeners – sometimes you just need a little extra assistance to help keep those unwanted notes from ringing out and ruining a take. For years guitarists have been making do with hair ties and other DIY solutions, but finally someone has come up with a simple product which works perfectly. Say hello to the Gruv Gear Fret Wrap professional string dampener!
For the past year I’ve been using the hairy side of a strip of velcro slid under the strings for dampening duty – and to be fair that solution did work very well, apart from the fact that it was a pain to get on and off and move around. So it has been a bit of a luxury to finally replace my homemade remedy with a slick and simple purpose-made product.
Gruv Gear Fret Wraps
Each pack comes with three wraps in three different colors – black, orange and brown. As you can see in the image above, the design is a simple black velcro strap with a soft fabric pad in the middle. The fabric section has some stiffening in the middle, allowing the pad to perfectly follow the curvature of your fingerboard and therefore dampen all strings with equal pressure.
The adjustable velcro strap allows you to fine-tune the pressure exerted to enable the wrap to work flawlessly with your specific guitar. The straps are well made and should potentially last a lifetime given the right care. Three different sizes are available to accomodate most neck widths:
Small - Fits 4- to 5-string basses, 6-string electric and acoustic guitars
Medium - Fits 5- to 6-string basses & 6-string classical guitars
Large - Fits 6- to 7-string basses & 7- to 8-string guitars
The simple design means that a strap can be on your guitar in seconds. Once you have one on a guitar there really is no reason to take it off again, as it will easily slide over the nut allowing you to resume normal playing. When slid past the nut it is very unobtrusive.
Very little pressure is needed to adequately mute the strings – this isn’t a capo, so don’t overtighten! The degree of dampening can be varied depending on where you place the fret wrap. Position it just past the nut inside the first fret and you can still play open strings with minimal muting, but slide it up the neck and dampening becomes increasingly more noticeable. It’s very easy to reposition on the fly whilst playing for the ultimate in control.
As expected they work fantastically well when playing – especially when doing tapped licks, as literally no muting is required at all. This eliminates not only sympathetic string vibration, but also the scratchy noises your palm can unintentionally create when trying to mute. It really is a perfect solution for super clean playing.
Advantages Over DIY Solutions
Most guitarists who need a string dampening solution will opt for the DIY hair tie option. The problem with this is that hair ties were not designed to be used as guitar accessories. Hair ties do not produce even pressure on strings, they stretch out over time, they’re fiddly to get on and off (especially if your guitar has a large headstock!) and they’re not exactly durable either.
If your playstyle involves a lot of tapping, or you need a little help taming your guitar during live performances, or you just want to ensure that you get that perfect take whilst recording then you absolutely need some GruvGear FretWraps in your life! These haven’t come off my guitars since I got them and have quickly become an indispensable part of my toolbox. (They also look pretty snazzy on my guitars!). Of course you shouldn’t use these as a substitute for poor muting technique, but for the times when a little extra help is required these really are a definite must have.
My only gripe is that I have more guitars than FretWraps, so I will need to buy more! Oh, and I wish they were all orange…
FretWraps come in three different sizes and at the time of writing are $30 for a pack of three with free worldwide shipping.
For more information:
Gruv Gear Website
Also, many thanks to Bass Gear UK for supplying the product!