Palm Muting Guide

author: metalfan123 date: 02/21/2011 category: for beginners
rating: 7 / votes: 1 
Muting is an essential part of the guitarist's armoury, especially when playing high gain rock and metal styles, as it helps with note separation and clarity. There are two ways of muting strings: palm muting and fretting hand muting. Palm muting involves laying the edge of the palm of your picking hand near the bridge of the guitar across the strings that are being played. The positioning of the hand is crucial, as if the hand is directly across the bridge the strings won't be muted, and if it is too close to the neck then the strings wont be able to ring properly. As a rough guide try to keep the edge of the palm between the bridge and the bridge pickup. An excellent example of this is the main riff from Metallica's Master Of Puppets. As these are eighth notes played at 210 beats per minute, this riff would sound a lot messier without palm muting.
  m m   m m   m m   m m   m m     m m   m m   m m   m m   m m 
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------4------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------4------|
|-----2-----3-----4-----3-----2-2-----2-----3-----4-----3-----2------|
|-0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1-----0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1--------|
Try playing this first example with palm muting, and then without, as in the second. Sounds much less focused, no?
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------4------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------4------|
|-----2-----3-----4-----3-----2-2-----2-----3-----4-----3-----2------|
|-0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1-----0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1--------|
This next example is from Van Halen's Ain't Talkin' Bout Love. This is the intro, and the palm muting can clearly be heard here. The muting makes the notes sound more staccato, and they don't ring into each other as they might if this were played without palm muting.
    m m   m m  m m  m  m    m  m    
e|-------------0-1----------3-------------------|
B|--------1---------1----------3----------------|
G|----------2----------2------------------------|
D|----2-----------------------------------------|
A|--0-------------------------------0--3~--3~-2~|
E|----------------------------------------------|
Palm muting can be applied to both downpicking and alternate picking, but for some reason it always sounds more powerful to me when downpicking. Alternate picking generally uses palm muting to achieve a machine gun pick attack: check out Zakk Wylde to hear this sort of thing. Please review and comment, this was my first lesson and I receive constructive criticism happily.
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