If you want to take your guitar playing to the next level then mastering the palm mute is a must.
The palm mute is a technique that uses the side of your hand to deaden the vibration of the strings.
This allows you to add depth to your playing style by muffling or choking different elements. It shortens note length and completely deadens the note removing the lingering reverberation that you get without palm muting.
It is great for epic power chords or for just playing around with the rhythm of a piece.
Palm-muting is commonly used to:
- Making notes sound shorter.
- Reduce string reverberation.
- Make your guitar sound quieter.
To take your guitar playing to the next level follow these steps:
1. Sit the side of your strumming palm against the strings.
Normally when you strom your palm doesn’t make contact with the strings, just your fingers, nails, or plectrum.
In palm muting your need to ensure that your palm is in contact with the strings.
Despite the name you do not actually use the flat of your palm to mute as this would make it awkward to strum effectively.
Instead use the side of your palm, where your little finger is.
This side of the palm should be lightly covering all strings when you are palm muting.
2. Strum while keeping your hand in contact with the strings.
It will take time to adjust to strumming your guitar like this.
If you haven’t done it before, moving between strings will feel awkward to do while keeping your hand in contact with the strings.
Practice with just one or two strings initially to get to grips with the technique before bringing in the other strings.
3. Try applying different amounts of pressure with your hand
The harder you press your palm into the strings the greater the dampening effect will be.
Experiment with light pressure, medium pressure, and hard pressure so that you get a feel for how different pressure variations will sound.
Be aware that you shouldn’t apply so much pressure on the strings that all you hear is a completely damp plucking noise, you should still be able to hear the correct pitch clearly.
4. Adjust your hand position up or down the guitar.
Moving your palm up and down the strings also has a big impact on how the dampening will impact the sound of your guitar.
The closer your palm is to the fretboard the more the sound will be dampened.
This is because the closer your hand is to the fretboard the shorter the strings effectively are giving them less space to vibrate in.
5. Practice lifting your palm off different strings.
This can be tricky to learn but you can palm mute certain strings and leave others to resonate fully with a bit of practice.
Try lifting your palm off the first one or two strings initially.
With practice, you will be able to dampen specific strings at will.
If you want to dampen just one string it is easiest to do this with your fret-hand as your palm is too chunky to just press one specific string.
Just press on the string with any free finger (or thumb) to dampen it.
We hope this guide helps you to begin to get to grips with palm muting so you can take your playing to the next level.
For more help with this here is a really helpful video that breaks the technique down for you.