Palm muting involves the dampening of the strings on your guitar with the edge of your picking hand.

Palm muting is a technique used by rock and heavy metal guitarists, since doing palm muted plucks with high gain (distortion) brings out a thick, rhythmic punch sound, to the extent of making it sound percussive.

Check out this video lesson on palm muting, it explains and shows the technique in detail.

Palm Muting How to

  1. Place the edge of your picking hand palm onto all 6 strings (yes, onto the strings, as if you wanted to mute them) between the bridge and the first pickup, close to the bridge
  2. Use your pick and pluck at a given string or power chord. You have to pluck semi-strong, a light brush will not do in this case. Not Superman strong though, you don’t want to break your strings.
  3. Experiment with accenting every other, than every third pluck. Listen to the drum-like rhythmic effect it creates.

Aspects of Palm muting

Hand position
You can get different sounds, depending on how from the bridge you are palm muting. Experiment with it. The further you are from the bridge, the more you will mute the strings, which has a more percussive, drum-like feel. Moving towards the bridge, or even resting part of the edge of your palm on the bridge, makes the muting effect lighter.

Applied pressure
The amount of pressure you apply onto the string with the edge of your palm greatly influences the sound. Experiment with it, notice how you get fuller sounds with a lighter palm mute, and more percussive sounds with heavy muting.

Turning up the gain on your distortion effect really brings out the crunchy sound of palm muting.

Muted chords
As you will probably have experienced, playing chords under distortion will sound really bad due to the overlapping overtones caused by the distortion effect. You can use palm muting to alleviate this problem, try it out.

The Net Effect
The above aspects all have an effect on each other as well, so just mix it up and experiment with the gain level, hand pressure, etc.

Changing Between Strings While Palm Muting

You will want to pluck more than one string while you are using palm muting. When you change strings, try not to move the edge of your palm out of place, just your plectrum and the fingers you are plucking with.

You can mute at least 4 neighboring string without having to move your palm. Keep this in mind, not moving your palm will make your palm muted plucks more fluent.

Palm Muting Stops and Starts

You can vary between using and not using palm muting at any given point in the riff. This can be used to increase the rhythmic effect as well. All you gave to do is raise your palm slightly, than lower it back onto the strings when appropriate. This is a very important technique that is used in pretty much every rock song.

Palm muting is also very effective when you want to abruptly halt the vibration of the strings, and move into a rhythmic beat.

I would advise you to watch our video lesson on palm muting, it’ll be very helpful in learning this technique.