One of the most popular and incompletely unclear questions in guitar playing is – how to palm mute guitar strings? It is a very logical question that still can’t be clear enough.
Today I’ll explain tips on how I came to this question and how I use my hands to do it. There’re many videos on Youtube about palm muting, but my job is to try to explain how it looks in theory and practice. I’ll hope that after reading this post, your understanding will be much clear and you’ll be able to improve your playing skills. Palm mute is one of the guitar position points and is also covered in this course.
First, let’s look through the bough hands technique and understand the role of each.
Guitar palm muting with both hands
Please understand that muting guitar strings are done with both hands. Left-hand plays its own role and the right hand here also plays its role.
Left-hand covers fretboard from the bottom and the right hand is lying on the deck from above.
From this point of view, we can say that high strings are muted with left-hand fingers and low strings (mostly E, A and D) are muted with right-hand palm.
To understand better, look at these images below. Look at the position of the left hand and the palm of the right.
In my playing practice, I’ve discovered that muting strings left-hand play a big role. Remember that when you’re playing fast licks or going from string to string (skipping), then both hands are going up and down on the deck and the fretboard.
For example, playing major or minor arpeggio from low E string to high E string, the right hand is going down parallel by deck. Right-hand palm only touches (not lays down) on strings on the bridge. Here it’s muting low strings.
The left-hand push low string notes and goes to high ones. While playing low notes, fingers easily touch high strings which mute all unnecessary sounds.
Play Am arpeggio real slow and try to feel every move in both hands. This will show that every hand does its own role in palm muting strings (not just one).
Usually, the right hand just touches strings on the bridge. You don’t need to push hard, just touch them. This is done with the palm of the right hand.
It’s used on clean tone muting and every time playing on overdrive. Playing muted strings really sounds well on a clean tone and makes more clear sound on overdrive.
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- Clean tone with no muting
- Clean tone with muting
When playing fast licks or string skipping, right-hand moves a little bit from left to the right side. Moving right hand closer to nearest pick up, you can control the sound. It can be muted a little or severely. Here you can experiment with it and it’s quite interesting to combine both soundings.
It’s quite hard to explain how to palm mute strings in theory. This post is dedicated to showing the mostly theory point of view. It explains that both hands does it, and not the only the right one. It takes some time to “get” this feeling. Just keep practicing and pay attention to it. It comes in one single moment. Your playing grows to the new level.
The best way to understand is to take some private lessons with a teacher. I recommend you to do this if all written above doesn’t make clear enough.
Take your time and keep practicing your guitar position skills.
Ok, next time we’ll cover such an interesting and my favorite point in this course that is pick holding and how to change your sound with it.