Looking for simple tricks about guitar palm mute technique?
You’ve heard the expression”What you do not play is equally as important as what you do perform,” right? You probably thought it applied to know when to leave breathing space in your audio and when to predominate in the 64th-note flurries.
Well, it will, but it can mean something else too. Ever heard a guitar player who just somehow appeared…noisy? Someone who could maybe play some pretty fast licks and remarkable tricks, but who also displayed an intangible funk (the bad type ) that held them back from total rockworthiness?
Yeah, I’ve heard them also, usually at a music store on a Saturday morning. A lot of players spend a great deal of cash on sound gates to solve the issue, and while sound gates are indeed an extremely handy tool to have, this is a problem that will not go away by simply throwing money at it. However, you can fix it for free by simply paying attention to what your hands are doing. What is it? Muting.
What is Palm Mute?
That’s right, muting. It is simple, it’ll make you sound infinitely better, and on top of that, it’s totally, completely free. Now, like most things in the world of guitar, there are various sorts of muting, and they all have their particular uses. Let’s look at some.
The most elementary kind of muting is the easy palm mute. Besides being a handy way to muffle unwanted strings between chords, this technique can be employed in rock and metal to add a huge chunkiness to chords and single notes and is achieved simply by resting the border of your hand against the strings directly where they leave the bridge.
You might find that if you mute a lot away from the bridge, then the result will probably be more choppy and abrupt. Mute too far back and you’ll lose the clear definition around each muted note. Both of these’wrong manners’ can be used to creative effect, but it’s important to come up with your palm muting technique to the point of instinct so that those creative moments happen where you need them.
Perfect Palm Mute
What some players do not seem to realize is that your picking hand, including the ability to palm-mute, is the guitarist’s equivalent of a trumpet player’s breath. You can vary the quantity and fullness of this note by altering the ability of your pick attack, and you could also expand this to various levels of palm muting.
Mute heavily and your notes will likely be thick and chunky. Mute lightly and they will be a little bolder. Stop palm-muting altogether and they’ll shout. You can use this as a different phrasing element alongside bending, hammer-ons, vibrato, and all that other fun stuff. The 3 techniques below shows you an example of how to get it done. It’s a really straightforward, Satriani-Esque lick in the key of Em. The first bar is with no phrasing at all. Play it rather evenly and you’ll hear… well, maybe not a lot, actually. It’s kind of boring.
The next bar, however, includes some phrasing tricks, with particular emphasis on the muting in the first four notes. The Crescendo above those four notes indicates a change from heavy muting to light muting, with an emphasis on the fourth notice to actually play up the dynamic evolution of the phrase. For the last three notes, you won’t mute at all, but you’ll get to apply a slip and vibrato into the final note. The contrast between a) the different levels of muting( b) the emphasis on the fourth notice ( c) the full-volume unmuted notes and ) the slide make for a fairly interesting little snippet.
Simple lick without palm muting (Bar 1) and with (Bar 2)
Another form of muting takes place together with all the fretting hand. It may not be as glamorous as palm muting but it’s much more useful, especially if you end up in a professional position like a recording studio laying down some riffage onto somebody else’s dime. My favorite means of left-hand muting is: when I’m playing with a notice to the low E string, I use the remainder of my index finger almost — but not very — like I am playing a barre chord. See?
Fretting the low E but muting the rest of the strings
Rest the bottom of your index finger gently on another five strings. When done right you should hear a muffled’thunk’ if you pluck each muted series, rather than a solid note. Once you do it correctly you’ll be able to hit that note on the minimal E as ferociously as you like without extraneous sound. You can even strike all six strings, even though you only actually require that one notice since the five muted strings won’t ring out (and actually they can add a really solid ker-thunk into the front of the notice ).
If I’m playing a note on another string I use a variation on this technique. Whatever I am doing, I’ll fret with my index finger but also put it slightly flat along whichever higher-pitched strings put below it. This mutes any extraneous strings on the’floor’ facet of the string you are playing. But what of the strings on the opposing side? If you are playing with a C on the 5th fret of the G series and muting the B and higher E strings with the underside of your index finger (as in the pic below), then what do you do about the E, D, and A strings?
Well, guess what: callback! That is where palm muting is useful! Angle your hand so you grab those strings too and you’ll automatically be muting each and every string except that the one you’re playing. You will soon notice that no matter which string you’re enjoying, the natural motion of your picking hand when angled just so, will accompany your picking hand all the way down until you get to the high E and no more need to do the index-finger semi-capo thang.
Muting the B and higher E when fretting the G and then muting the remainder with the ideal hand
There is yet another little muting trick I want to say, and it is something that will prevent a lot of cringing on this Saturday morning at the guitar store. Wanna pull off a wild open-string legato lick without scaring away neighborhood cats? Just select the series you’ll be using then place your hands over the rest strings for it:
Use this technique for open-string legato licks
Then let loose with your open-string lick. I’ve included a tiny tabbed lick below to get you started but develop your own. Additionally experiment with switching into other strings (and if you by chance understand’Thunderstruck,’ try this procedure for cleaning up the intro). Soon you’ll be an open-string-shredding, extraneous-note-muting ultra system of doom.
Simple open series lick for training your muting technique.