Palm muting is a guitar technique where you use the palm of your picking hand to dampen the vibrations of the strings on purpose.
This creates a heavy and chunky sound which makes your tone extra edgy when combined with distortion effects. While it is commonly found in rock music, the palm mute can also be applied to any other style of music too.
One great feature of palm muting is the precise control it offers. Depending on how you execute the palm mute and how much pressure you apply, you can achieve different sound tones easily.
In general, the palm mute is denoted with a “P.M.” or “PM” in guitar tablature. Sometimes, a dashed or dotted line indicates the duration in which the notes are palm muted and you can see this in the example below.
Palm muting is most effective on the lower strings and as the “chunky” sounds can easily be amplified. All you need to do is to rest the heel of the picking hand lightly on the strings near the bridge as you attack the strings.
Tip #1 – Make sure your picking hand isn’t placed too far away from the bridge as it causes excessive muting.
Tip #2 – The amount of pressure applied by the picking hand can create distinctly different tones. Experiment around to find the optimal pressure and see what works for you.
Tip #3 – Turn on the overdrive/distortion effects with your amplifier or pedal. You will find it easier to hear differences.
Tip #4 – Use only the heel and not other parts of the picking hand when muting the strings. This will keep your hand positioning in an ideal position to pick the notes.
Tip #5 – Practice a lot!
We will end the lesson with a simple practice exercise by learning how to play a song called Krytonite by 3 Doors Down. In the chorus section of the song, the rhythm guitarist utilizes intensive palm muting which sounds really awesome.
Palm muting is a super versatile technique which can be integrated with other techniques like sweep picking. You can even try playing palm muted riffs and solos and explore the various types of rhythmic sounds. For more exercises to practice with, you can check out our lesson on power chords!
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