How Palm Mute - Learning To Control The String Vibration

How to palm-mute strings on the guitar is a very standard skill that every beginning guitarist should know since it's so fundamental in its inclusion of most guitar tunes. As fundamental as it might appear however, how to use palm-muting efficiently and tastefully might be a little harder to grasp than the actual execution.

I don't think there are hardly any tunes created recently where palm-muting hasn't been used. It's a very popular skill to fit into any song, and lucky for you, palm-muting is not difficult learning how to do it.

What is guitar palm-muting?

Palm-muting is the idea of using your strumming hand to strike the strings on the guitar while preventing a full vibration at the same time. It's a very distinct sound how the strings create a short staccato-like hit when used with an electric guitar.

Most of the time, palm-muting the strings is easier to distinguish on electric guitars because of the amplification of the equipment, but acoustic guitar players that value a very percussive aspect of their performance figure ways how to fit palm-muting into their live shows to keep better time.

Where is palm-muting used?

It's almost impossible to think of how palm-muting isn't used actually. This technique is used in verses, choruses, mellow introductions, and even bridges and codas of almost any song that you listen to involving a guitar.

This goes for just about any genre as well. It's obviously prominent in rock and metal, but I've heard it used in jazz, blues, gospel, and even classical guitar tunes.

Now, there's no hard and fast rule about how palm-muting should be inserted into any created song, but using it tastefully is key. If an entire song contains palm-muted sections, the song lacks some luster and appeal by losing its surprise factor.

So, how do you do it?

How to palm mute is actually very easy.

Take your strumming hand and place it near the pickups, but resting on the strings that you intend to play for the moment. Then simply take the pick and sweep through the muted strings.

It's a pretty distinct sound when you execute it, but again... not difficult. There are a number of ways how palm-muting can be altered by increasing or decreasing the pressure on the muted strings, but that only really applies to electric guitar.

Learning how to palm-mute is a fast skill that you can pick up in seconds, but don't wear it out. If you're a songwriter, place it in your guitar tunes tastefully so as not to lose your song's appeal.

But, be excited that you've learned a new skill because this one is in about 99% of songs!


Angele Martin said...

Being able to play the guitar is a great skill you can learn and one of the most enjoyable to learn as well. If you love music, the guitar is one instrument that you can easily learn, not just for playing your favorite songs, but also a great way to compose music. However, if you want to learn and master the guitar, playing by ear is also one of the great skills you can learn.

How To Guitar Tune said...


Very well put. Learning by ear can open up many doors on new techniques and skills and amp up your improvement rate.

Thanks for the comment!


Anonymous said...

all you guys said is just so great .. THANKS BTW .. but the point here is to really point out palm muting EXERCISES that help beginners ( they might not be guitar beginners HOWEVER beginners in learning how to mute ) .. if any knows how to point that out CLEARLY or recommend any instructional DVDs. just pointing out the MUTING FUNDAMENTALS .. plz dont hesitate .. THANKS.

How To Guitar Tune said...


Finding a good set of exercises pointed at those without any palm-muting experience might be difficult, but I wouldn't stop there.

You make a valid point.

Personally, some good strategies to attempt for palm-mutes would be:

* Start with single strings (each one) strumming downwards only in a slower 4/4 time signature. So maybe four hits on 'E', then four on 'A', etc.

* Then do the same method each single string by double-picking this time however. (up & down). Eight hits on 'E', then eight on 'A', etc.

* Then heading into palm-muting chords is probably a good idea. Chords that are on the low 'E' string anyway for the most beginning convenience.

These are just some personal suggestions, but maybe I'll come around and write a new post with these exercises and get more detailed.

Thanks for the comment!


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