If you want some chug in your life, then you need to learn to palm mute.
And even if you don’t want chug in your life, then tough, learn palm muting anyway.
It’s probably the guitar technique you’ll use more than any other.
Riffing, strumming, self-defence – you name it – learning to palm mute on guitar will be invaluable.
So today I’ll be going over how to palm mute on electric and acoustic guitar so that you can play better stuff.
The Palm Muting Technique
At its core, palm muting is very simple so within a couple of minutes you’ll be muting away.
But for that to happen, you need to know how to do it.
Start by taking the karate-chop portion of your hand and lying it gently on top of the strings, just in front of the bridge.
It should look like this:
Have a go at playing the low E string a bit from this position.
It should feel as comfortable as a seagull in a jacuzzi, so it’s alright for your palm to come at the bridge from a slight angle if that feels better.
Just make sure that the low E string remains muted.
Next, you’ll want to practice getting the right amount of mute.
If your palm is too close to the neck, it’ll sound too clicky, if it’s too close to the bridge, it won’t sound muted enough.
I tend to have the back of my karate chop portion touching the bridge, with the palmy-front bit lying in front.
And that’s always a good rule of thumb to have.
Experimenting with different amounts of mute and see if you can find a balance.
But you can always use a more clicky, percussive palm mute or a slightly less dampened mute for effect when it feels right.
Bands like Metallica do stuff like that all the time to break from the norm a bit. E.g. In the bridge of The Wait from Garage Inc.
And that’s it. You can now officially palm mute. *Cue party popper sounds*
Riffing vs. Strumming Palm Muting
So how does palm muting change when it comes to strumming?
Riffing palm muting is the kind of muting we’ve just looked at.
We mute 1-3 strings at one to give us a tight, machine-gun, you-listen-to-me-or-i’ll-unfollow-you-on-instagram kind of sound.
But that doesn’t really work with clean tones or on acoustic because we don’t have any gain to boost up that muted sound.
So palm muting is mostly used as a tool for rhythmic strumming patterns instead.
The concept is basically the same, except you’ll need to mute more than 3 strings at once, and get good at integrating this with strumming swings.
Take this example here:
On the third swing, I mute the strings with my palm shortly before the pick hits them.
I’m not changing the movement in any way, my pick is just tailing behind my palm slightly so that it hits the strings after my palm has got there.
If this pattern feels a bit difficult in the beginning, then practice hitting muted strokes on their own whilst maintaining a slow swing.
To help with this, release pressure with your fretting hand to make sure that no essence of a chord rings out.
And once you’ve got good at this, you’ll be able to play loads more strumming patterns, and even styles like funk will become accessible to you.
Palm Muting Practice Exercises
Boom! You know now how to palm mute on an electric and an acoustic guitar.
So I’ve made some riffing exercises to help you put it all into practice.
I know, I know, I’m pretty epic…
Here’s the first one:
If you see P.M. above a note, unsurprisingly it means to palm mute that note.
(Sometimes if there’s a lot of palm muting, you will see P.M.- – – – – – -] instead, with the dotted line indicating to keep on palm muting)
But anyway, that one’s nice and simple. A good one to get used to the technique and get you chugging.
Once that feels comfortable, you can have a go at this one, and get going with an actual riff:
Pretty badass, right? Feels cool to be able to palm mute now, right?
Mmmm hmmm, thought you’d like it.
It’s great to be able to palm mute on electric and acoustic guitar when down picking, but you need to be able to do it when alternate picking too.
And that’s why I’ve created this one for ya to help with that:
If you don’t know how to alternate pick, then click here to view my post on how to play electric guitar notes, so you can play faster licks like the one above.
And here’s a wee strumming pattern to practice too:
And if you can play all of that, then you’ll be good to go.
Wrapping it Up
Palm muting is something you are definitely gonna use time and time and time and time and time and time again.
Such as, when the TV is too loud…
You can mute it!
When your sibling won’t shut up…
You can mute ’em!
When your best mate unfollows you on instagram…
You can disown them as any kind of friend!
Anyway, practice your palm muting and your rhythm guitar skills will level up in no time.
A whole new array of songs you can play will open up so enjoy that good feeling.
I’ve been Sam Olverson…
P.S If you want to learn the pentatonic scales positions on guitar so that you can begin to improvise like a beast, then click here to view my post on that.