In this lesson I'll be going
through some effective palm mute guitar techniques that will get you
with expert timing and accuracy.
First though, I'll just give a little
intro for people not sure about what this... is.
is palm mute guitar?
Palm muting is a guitar
used in all forms of music, but by far most religiously in rock and
It involves dampening the strings, not
with your palm as
the name suggests, but with the edge of your hand,
and when coupled with high gain or distortion from your amp or effects
pedal, you get a thick, percussive punch when you strike the strings.
Here's how to execute palm mute guitar...
Hand positioning for palm
the bridge is on your guitar. It
will be around the place my hand is rested on the left.
You should first rest the meaty part of
the edge of your picking hand between
the bridge and the first pickup - you should be able to feel
all 6 strings along the edge of your hand.
holding the plectrum as usual, pivot your wrist so
your plectrum is touching the low E string.
I say pivot, because your "palm"
should stay fixed on that bridge area, only now angled around
What I tend to do is rest my pinky/little
finger on the pick guard (you can just about see this in the photo on the
left) to ensure I have all strings muted between the bridge and pickup.
With your picking hand, you
want to strike the strings firmly to get a clean punch. Just a quick,
sharp, percussive down picklike
That's a simple 4/4 timing there and you
can just play the bottom E
string to start with to find your sound. Of course, a metronome
will help you to build up your speed gradually.
How positioning affects palm muted tone
There is a way to define the
"texture" of your palm muted riffs - how far your "palm" is positioned
away from the bridge of your guitar. The further towards the guitar
neck you mute the strings, the shorter and more percussive the mute
pretty much over the bridge pickup, gets you a sharper, more percussive
sounding mute - Click to hear
I mostly prefer a thicker sound, so my hand will rest almost on the
bridge, but touching
the strings just enough to partially mute them.
up and finding your palm mute tone
Once you feel you're up to speed with the above, take a look at the exercise
below which is a little faster.
Click on the diagrams in this lesson to hear
The exercise above should have helped you to get that initial timing. But
obviously if there's going to be any sort of movement in your music, you
will need to change between different strings using this technique.
to another string (e.g. changing from a powerchord on the 6th
string to a
powerchord on the 5th string), you need to keep your hand in the
position, partially muting the strings.
Only the joints in the fingers holding the
pick will move to target the right strings.
Try this palm mute exercise with string
Remember, the edge of your palm muting hand should hardly move whilst
changing fretboard position.
Onwards and upwards!
inventive with palm mute guitar
As well as changing chord/strings whilst palm muting, you also need to be able
to stop and start the muting in a riff to create more rhythmic effect.
Listen to the clip below and
try and pick out when the muted downstrokes are applied and lifted
This technique requires you to raise your hand off
the strings at the appropriate time and then place it back in the same
spot to mute.
To make sure this is accurate,
only lift your muting hand off ever so slightly, but enough
so you aren't muting the strings anymore.
Also, you need to synchronize
removing your muting hand with a downstroke, so you hit the strings and
pull your hand away almost at exactly the same time.
Try the exercise below...
So on the diagram above, the red dots
indicate where you need to lift
off (unmuted) and downstroke. Follow it slowly, and use a metronome
build up your speed gradually. It's the only way to nail it at speed!
Palm muted stops
If you hit the strings whilst palm muting normally, the chord or string
will still ring for a while, so to cut this off and create a stop we
need to fully mute
The best way to do this is to
bring your fret hand into the action. You can
use the fingers on this hand to simply lift off the fretboard but still
touch the strings that were in the chord. As soon as you
fingers to just touch over the strings, they will be fully
If, however, you are playing
an open string (not fretted) you will need to bring
down some available fret hand fingers to touch the strings and stop
So again, we're using that muted/unmuted technique from the exercise before.
If you speed that up you get a
better picture of how it works (click tab to hear)...
You can just about catch a deep punch effect when the muting is applied, which gives the riff a real
Start slow with a metronome
and build up gradually.
Palm muting on single strings
Although this will be covered in more depth in the lead guitar
it's important to be able to palm mute more than just power chords.
Looking at the simple lick below, the
symbols show you, just like before, where muted
strokes are played. Listen to the audio and get a sense for the rhythm
You'll want to try the above lick, or similar, using alternate
lesson!), because as you speed up it'll be the most efficient way to
play it (as will most lead phrases).
So there's a beginner's guide to palm mute guitar!
I hope you've learned a new technique that will stay with
you throughout your guitar playing life. There are more advanced palm
muting lessons back in the main section, or see the links below.