Learning how to palm mute is essential to many guitar-playing styles – here’s how it’s done…
There are some guitar-playing techniques that are appropriate in just about any musical style. Palm Muting is one such technique.
Used for everything from lightly dampening the sustain of played notes to give a more staccato feel, to creating the powerful, steam-roller attack of heavy rock and metal power chords, this is a pretty universal technique.
Thankfully, this useful trick is also very straightforward, too. Here’s how it’s done…
Muted (but not silent…)
The key to palm muting is to dampen the strings such that they still have a little bit of sustain, but are not completely deadened.
1. Rest the outside of your strumming hand (the area at the edge of the palm, on the same side as your little finger) across the strings to be played, just next to the bridge.
2. You only need to rest this hand gently on the strings- too heave and you’ll deaden them too much. Plus, you still need to be able to play the strings with this hand…
3. The closer it is to the bridge, the more sustain the notes will have. The closer it is positioned to the neck, the ‘deader’ the sound will be.
4. Play the muted strings, making to sure to leave your muting/ strumming hand in place, muting the strings.
Easy, eh? If you don’t get it right at first, try moving your muting hand closer to the bridge. This is probably the most common mistake, and as guitar bridges (and players’ hands) differ, so does the ideal position to place your hand.
As mentioned, you can use this technique in all sorts of musical situations. Try using it to subdue a strummed chord pattern on an acoustic for added dynamics and drama.
If you’ re playing an electric, turn the gain up on your amp, switch some distortion or overdrive on, and mute some power-chords. You’ll get that distinctive ‘chugga-chugga’ effect you hear used extensively in heavy rock.
So there we go- how to palm mute in four steps. It’s incredibly easy, but incredibly useful.
If you liked that, then you might like this
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, then check out our guide on “How to Sweep Pick“.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.