#1
So as everybody knows most people palm mute with their pinky-side of their palm, but I palm mute with my thumb side while having my hand placed almost 100% horizontally on the guitar. I've played the guitar for about 10 moths now and used this technique for about 8 months so changing it will not be easy.

I tried my best trying to palm mute the "normal" way with various possible variations and picking grips, but I just can't find the ideal for me. My pick grip seems too weak and not powerful enough when I don't have that thumb support and I can't manage to quickly swap between normal play and palm mutes without mistakes or extra strings ringing (hardest are the songs where one string is muted, the other is not and you have to quickly go between them).

Now getting to the point, I have made made it so that my palm muting technique sounds 1:1 to the standard one, but there's only one problem: playing standing up is not as comfortable unless I move the guitar more to the neck side to give my right hand more space or if I lower the neck (by rotating it).

The question is: Is it worth the hassle changing my picking technique and will I encounter any songs where my palm muting is just not suitable?



EDIT (actual grip):
Last edited by vladas.zvonkus at Aug 14, 2016,
#2
Yeah, you need to change that technique. That's just bad right hand technique in general, not just when it comes to palm muting. If you're doing it right, going from palm muting to not palm muting should be a nearly imperceptible shift of the wrist, maybe a couple millimeters. I can't even comprehend how playing the way that you are could possibly be comfortable or effective. It also looks like your pick grip is awkward as hell. You're holding the pick between the knuckle of your thumb, and the knuckle of the first finger, with the finger curled all the way in, like you're making a fist. No bueno. Use the tips, of both the finger and the thumb. That'll make a proper palm mute technique feel better. Then it's just a matter of practice. With less than a year of playing under your belt, you shouldn't expect it to be easy. Work on picking with a better pick grip, and a proper arm angle (NOT coming up from the bottom of the guitar, with a straight arm parallel to the strings), and don't worry about palm muting until you feel comfortable playing like that.

And don't worry about changing your technique after using it for 8 months. You haven't been playing anywhere near long enough to be concerned with whether it's worth it to invest the effort in breaking a bad habit. That might be a legit concern for someone who's been playing with a bad habit for a decade or more, but not a few months.
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#3


I was trying to make a picture so I accidentally made the grip look worse than it did. Don't know if it actually changes anything, but this is how I play.
#4
that looks horrible to be honest, just start practicing regular palm muting with no weird hand placement, it will become second nature in a month.

also, why is so much of your pick sticking out? You should have barely the tip sticking out, no wonder you don't have a good grip
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#5
The difficulty in fixing that technique is insubstantial compared to the trouble you'll save yourself by developing a usable technique. The previous responses have you covered on what you should focus on adjusting, and if you want to develop as a player it'll be worth the effort - you've already clearly identified the issues with what you're doing so you really just need to get to work on it.
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#6
Some friendly advice that I learned the hard way - take some lessons so that the teacher can fix your technique and accelerate your development.

I was self taught for years which in hindsight translates to I couldn't even hold the guitar correctly (learn the classical position over your left leg with your left foot up on a rest) and my fretting hand thumb position was so bad once I fixed that I was able to actually progress.

Even just a few lessons on the basics are SO worth their cost more than any piece of gear.
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#7
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Some friendly advice that I learned the hard way - take some lessons so that the teacher can fix your technique and accelerate your development.

I was self taught for years which in hindsight translates to I couldn't even hold the guitar correctly (learn the classical position over your left leg with your left foot up on a rest) and my fretting hand thumb position was so bad once I fixed that I was able to actually progress.

Even just a few lessons on the basics are SO worth their cost more than any piece of gear.
Agreed. Try to find a teacher who has (ideally competent) students to vouch for them, though - there are some crap ones about.
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#8
You do need to change your hand placement ... if nothing else to reduce the arm and shoulder tension (or worse)

It's hard to explain in words what you need to do, and really simple when you're sitting in front of someone that knows.

The basic idea is for the forearm to come over top edge of guitar body at roughly 45 degrees to neck, and rest foreaem flat on the body, and your hand (palm, not pinky) rests lightly on bass strings when muting, and is raised fractionally (by wrist rotation) when not. Both these positions are tension-free.

Advance muting can introduce the pinky, so you are forming a tunnel in which one string can vibrate cleanly, and all others are muted.

But see someone that knows. And definitely fix your style.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 14, 2016,
#9
Quote by vladas.zvonkus


I was trying to make a picture so I accidentally made the grip look worse than it did. Don't know if it actually changes anything, but this is how I play.


Na, it actually looks even worse in this picture.
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#10
Guess the same goes to you guys. It's my second day while using the "normal" technique and I just can't understand some stuff. While the guitar is sitting on my lap I get the feeling that it's constantly falling to the body side and if I try to tilt it another way then it's falling into the neck side (because my previous right hand placement was locking it in place and I had no problems. Also I have to apply more pressure with my right hand so it won't fall so the guitar is awkwardly rubbing against my rib which is quite painful after a while. When lifting the palm mute tons of notes ring out while I'm playing and I have to stop playing just to fully mute them. Taking the pick close (less of it sticking out) makes my fingers hit the strings (and if I'm careful they still hit while they're ringing). Just the weird feeling of not feeling the strings being fully strung against my pick makes the playing even more awkward (it's like you're gently stroking them and not actually playing them). Also when I'm playing I tend to scratch my pickups which is even less satisfying and I have to curl up my hand weirdly so it's even weirder to play (the pick positioning gets messed up too). Not really seeing how this is going to work out.

Can somebody please give me some tips on these issues and tell me the actual reason why my last hand position was bad, without saying that it's just a bad way to play or something like that. Right now I just feel that my last position was 1000x more comfortable it was extremely easy to mute individual strings and there were no balance issues or anything like that, changing into something new that makes all of the good go away just seems weird doesn't it?
#11
A good wide strap should cure the guitar balance issue, and stop you having to lock the guitar body with your picking arm. The strap height should be enough to take the weight even when sitting.

Picking: are your fingers curled up (the ones not holding the pick), or sticking out? If curled up, then they shouldn't be catching the other strings. Are you picking from your wrist? Is your forearm resting on the body? May be the angle of attack is causing issues. Need to experiment, especially with the plane of your hand. Imagine having your hand palm down, resting on a table surface, Then rotating your forearm to alter the plane of the hand, so its no longer flat, but slighlty tilted to one side or the orher. That's what I mean by experimenting withf plane of hand on guitar.

If you're hitting the pickups, then you're digging too deep, but also you can shift your hand so the pick isn't over a pick up. Experiment with how far along the strings you place your fretting hand.
#12
jerrykramskoy it appears that the extra ringing comes from lifting the hand up from the palm mute position (not the fingers touching the strings). I'm also holding the hand as far from the neck as possible (again, just where the strings start for palm muting).
#13
The strings are ringing because you don't know anything about fretting hand muting. just keep your fretting hand in light contact with the strings and you don't need to mute them with your picking hand. The guitar tilting is a complete non-issue: your fretting hand should be 100% enough to keep it in balance. If you're not getting enough strength with just the tip of the pick, or your fingers are scratching the strings, you just need to practice more. you're still a complete newbie, so of course a lot of things will feel awkward and sound bad. Just keep practicing with a proper technique and you'll get better.

Honestly, your picking technique is just wrong in every way. your hand is angled in a really really silly way, you have an awkward grip on the pick, the tip is sticking out wayyyy too much, you're apparently playing with way too much force, and you don't know much about muting excess noise. if you can't get a decent palm mute sound with a relaxed flick of the wrist and the very tip of the pick, you're doing something wrong. Just use a proper picking technique and you might someday become a decent musician.

and get a goddamn teacher.
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#14
Kevätuhri
My epiphone sg suffers from a condition well known as "neck diving" so I guess it kindof is apparent while comparing my guitar with others. Normal positions feel out of balance compared to other guitars. Kevätuhri
#15
Honestly the first picture is similar to how I hold the pick, though my fingers aren't curled in quite as much and my hand is very relaxed. The reason the grip you use in the second picture doesn't work is because you have too much of the pick sticking out. There is no way you can pick like that without having a death grip on the pick with your thumb and finger. Think about how you hold a pencil... You don't hold it all the way towards the eraser do you?

It's hard to tell by these photos, but judging by the angle of your legs and the guitar body you seem to be holding it wrong.
#16
cujohnston how do you even hold a guitar correctly while taking a picture from a good angle to show the hand?
#17
vladas.zvonkus Truth.

We might be able to help more if you can get someone to the pictures for you.
#18
cujohnston well now I'm playing the "normal" way. Alternate palm mutes are hard to do fast for some weird reason, but it's a small problem. Right now I'm trying relearn the songs that I knew so that could actually play the properly. I think I'll be just fine in a few weeks or so. But playing the guitar feels kind of weirdly unsatisfying for some reason, like I don't "feel" the guitar that much.

But I hope everything will go back to normal in time.
#19
Kevätuhri Btw, when I was playing with my old technique notes weren't ringing because I used my right hand AND left hand to mute strings (depending on the situation), but now that all of my focus has gone to retraining my right hand my left hand can't play on sync with my right hand as it did before so my muscle memory doesn't connect the palm mutes with my right hand playing.
#20
I'm not sure I understand the OP's problem correctly. Not that I'm a "technique" guy (far from it: I'm self taught and have terrible technique), but I rest my palm on the bridge of the guitar (which is a 'bad" thing!). My palm also lightly makes contact with the bass strings. I thought it was incorrect, but noticed Doc Watson doing the exact thing (and explaining it kinda like I did).
#21
TobusRex well the problem was the question whether or not it's worth changing back. I'm currently in my 5th of playing the "normal" and I can tell that I play worse and better at the same time. I've noticed that my right hand feels more agile in that position and also that I'll have to relearn muting.

Honestly it depends on the technique. Then I could definitely feel a smaller playing speed (which could've been improved), but now I know why this technique is called "normal". You can definitely get Pro with any technique, but not with equal difficulty. For now I'm quite uncomfortable with the playing but comfortable with the position.

BTW I'm interested in how your technique looks. Can you send a picture?
#22
Quote by vladas.zvonkus
Guess the same goes to you guys. It's my second day while using the "normal" technique and I just can't understand some stuff. While the guitar is sitting on my lap I get the feeling that it's constantly falling to the body side and if I try to tilt it another way then it's falling into the neck side (because my previous right hand placement was locking it in place and I had no problems. Also I have to apply more pressure with my right hand so it won't fall so the guitar is awkwardly rubbing against my rib which is quite painful after a while. When lifting the palm mute tons of notes ring out while I'm playing and I have to stop playing just to fully mute them. Taking the pick close (less of it sticking out) makes my fingers hit the strings (and if I'm careful they still hit while they're ringing). Just the weird feeling of not feeling the strings being fully strung against my pick makes the playing even more awkward (it's like you're gently stroking them and not actually playing them). Also when I'm playing I tend to scratch my pickups which is even less satisfying and I have to curl up my hand weirdly so it's even weirder to play (the pick positioning gets messed up too). Not really seeing how this is going to work out.

Can somebody please give me some tips on these issues and tell me the actual reason why my last hand position was bad, without saying that it's just a bad way to play or something like that. Right now I just feel that my last position was 1000x more comfortable it was extremely easy to mute individual strings and there were no balance issues or anything like that, changing into something new that makes all of the good go away just seems weird doesn't it?


the guitar tipping over is just something you have to put up with in some guitars. when holding it up, try to use ways that give you efficient leverage (for example, if you're using your fretting hand to keep the neck level). you shouldn't have to really use your picking arm just to keep the guitar up - stand the guitar on your thigh until it sits up against your torso on its own and leave it there. also, i think "leave it there" is a generally good philosophy, as opposed to "keep it there by force".

lifting a palm mute can certainly leave strings ringing, that's part of the technique you have to work on. you shouldn't mash your palm onto the strings, just touch it. and don't tense up your palm, have it so that there's a bit of give, while still holding the pick firmly.

holding the pick really close to the tip takes a lot of time to get used to. but the only thing you need to know is that if you keep your picking movements small, controlled, and relatively parallel to the stringbed, it's very possible. think one-inch punch. when you pick a string, you don't need much wind-up, and you don't need much follow-through. initiate the picking motion from the wrist and just let the tip of the pick fly through the string, then stop the pick on the other side.

there's a reason why most people use a certain technique. classical technique is strict because all of it is time-tested by people who have gone from beginner to pro. this guitar stuff might have little to do with classical technique, but the same thinking still applies. basically, everyone knows more than you and it's foolish to think that you're the one person who has stumbled upon a superior technique that suits your special hands. you're just like everyone else, and everyone else is suggesting that you'll go farther with the more common technique.

none of this is supposed to feel natural. guitar playing is not natural. you made your weird thumb-muting natural through practice - just do it again with palm-muting so that you're not limiting yourself in ways that you can't imagine yet.
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#23
Your technique just looks painful to play...

This video is a pretty good starting point


While there isn't one correct way of playing guitar, if it's physically uncomfortable or borderline painful then your technique is definitely wrong/bad. And frankly, the way it looks like you're palm muting just looks uncomfortable and painful.
#24
Quote by TobusRex
I'm not sure I understand the OP's problem correctly. Not that I'm a "technique" guy (far from it: I'm self taught and have terrible technique), but I rest my palm on the bridge of the guitar (which is a 'bad" thing!). My palm also lightly makes contact with the bass strings. I thought it was incorrect, but noticed Doc Watson doing the exact thing (and explaining it kinda like I did).
Simply resting your palm on the bridge isn't a bad thing by any means. The distinction between that and the frowned-upon "anchoring" - a distinction which is, in all fairness, often overlooked - is that the latter involves actively putting a downwards force on the contact point between your hand and the guitar (be that your pinky or your palm). If you press down, you create tension and you limit your range of movement. If you're simply resting your hand there, it's not an issue as long as you're able to shift it as necessary without compromising your ability to play.

Quote by vladas.zvonkus
Can somebody please give me some tips on these issues and tell me the actual reason why my last hand position was bad, without saying that it's just a bad way to play or something like that.
It may be that you've figured it out for yourself by this point, but I'll give a few thoughts on the matter:
First of all, the pick sticking out that much means your hand (i.e. the bit you're actually in control of) is further from the point of contact with the strings, which means you have less control over the tip of the pick, and you also have to deal with the flex of the entire pick rather than just the last few millimetres, which means it won't necessarily be where you want it to be when you're trying to pick fast. You may want the pick sticking out further for strumming and stuff, to put less stress on your fingers, but if you start by holding it close to the tip you can learn to adjust how much is sticking out more easily on the fly.
The angle of your hand there means that the transition from regular picking to palm muting can't be made as quickly as you'll be able to do once you've practiced with "normal" technique, as there's a big shift in position involved. With "normal" palm muting technique you can pretty much switch to palm muting in the middle of a phrase, because there's no substantial change in hand position. It also means that when you play standing up your wrist will be bent at an awkward angle, which'll pretty quickly become uncomfortable, and may increase your risk of injury but I couldn't say that for sure without having tried it for a while.
Also, definitely see what you can do to mitigate the neck dive of the Epiphone, be that by means of weights or moving strap buttons or more grippy straps. A G-400 was my only guitar for about three years and while I loved the thing (and I do still think it was a great guitar), the neck dive was a constant issue. I coped by resting my forearm on the top of the body and holding the neck up with my picking hand, which habits I stopped noticing after a while, but when I bought a more balanced guitar later on it was surprisingly liberating not to be holding it in place at all. The classic solution to really "solve" the SG's balance issues rather than just minimise them is to stick fishing weights on the body end, either in the control cavity or hanging from the strap button.
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#25
Arron_Zacx any technique that you get comfortable with will not be painful to play. Also you gave a starting point when I already updated to I'm a few days in the change.
#26
Apart from the whole palm muting thing, I suggest you also get a new pick, that looks really worn out.
And for the 8 months being too long for learning something again, I held my pick with 3 fingers for 4-5 years and then started to play more and learned to hold it with 2 fingers (also the hand position changed quite a lot) and within a month or so it became natural.
So you could just keep on playing the way it feels most comfortable and if you face obstacles change it. Lots of pros have weird picking styles (Marty Friedman for example)
#27
Vladas, the reason people will tell you to change your technique summed up is that it isn't economical. We like being economical playing guitar. You look like you're uncomfortable with your geetar. You should scrap all bad habits because they do hold you back, mainly screwing with your play speed. Watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, while they might've been almost comically too high, Harrison and McCartney have real correct posture. When you play relax your hands as much as possible. The frets have dots atop the neck, so you can see where frets are, don't use the fretboard. Learn stuff fluently and slowly. Read a lot of stuff about techniques. <~
#28
I've been playing for 11 years now, just to give some weight to what I'm advising, and I would say change that technique early, try conform to the "normal" way of playing while you're a beginner, set up good habits for the future. Also things like repetitive strain injury and tendonitis are more likely if you're playing in a strange way.

That being said, some of the greats had different picking techniques which involved attacking the strings from a weird angle, like it looks you are in that photo. Marty Friedman, for instance almost attacks the strings from underneath.

But again, I'd say learn the rules properly before breaking them!
#29
I think it's hilarious how the entire spectrum of techniques is represented by a hundred years of successful guitarists yet everyone still believes there's a right and wrong way to do things. While they may be the minority there are still plenty of people who encourage people to anchor, and pretty much everyone encourages some palm resting in general.

A lot of guitarists you'll see will move among many different techniques. And the more challenging stuff you play in front of people the more you start having to concede some bad technique.

There are multiple extremes and you'll find most people are somewhere in the middle though. You'll hear people say elbow movement is bad, and so is finger movement, and everything should be done at the wrist. But why not learn everything? There's no reason not to learn how to play like Steve Morse or Marty Friedman or George Benson or Michael Angelo Batio or Al DiMeola or Tom Hess or Jimmy Page or Kerry King or Wes Montgomery or anyone else.

My opinion is if you can't play anything with any technique you've got something to work on. They made it work so it can be done. They all have different timbres and combined with all the possible techniques you have hundreds of ways to play something. You gotta open your eyes to what's possible. It's possible in fact to play without even touching the guitar at all and it's done all the time with strumming and no one thinks it strange. But can you tremolo or even alt pick without touching? Of course. And it will sound way different than if you were doing something else. The freedom to play as you wish comes from learning a variety of skills.

I don't think your technique is inherently bad but it's on the 'bad' end of the spectrum for some things. One of those things is palm muting. It can be done but your technique lends itself more to just muting entirely. If you changed your angle but kept the thumb side down, that's how Tom Hess completely mutes lower strings while he's playing other strings. It works great and lends itself to fast finger movement but it's not good for palm mutes. To be able to palm mute at all requires you to change the angle of attack to what yours is by sitting down or by raising up the strap. And even then it's not ideal.

So to answer your question well I think you answered it yourself. No it isn't suitable. However changing to the pinky side doesn't have to be dramatic. Palm muting the right way is a totally different game than what your doing. You have to just put in the time to some extent. Do your best to get the technique right then just play. Rinse and repeat until you're playing effortlessly with the right technique

There are multiple ways to tackle the intricacies of palm mute passages. You mentioned you have trouble when one string is muted but another isn't. A lot of chuggers will play almost like George Benson but without the cocked thumb (or with it), so their pinky side is all down and their palm is facing straight leftward. With this you need to position your palm so that when you move up a string your wrist moves just enough that you aren't muting anymore. Or you have to actually lift up off the strings. This is usually coupled with a light anchor and gives a slightly more percussive sound.

But another option is to keep your palm flat toward the guitar like it is now. All you have to change is move your hand slightly up so your pinky side is the one muting. This lends to wrist shifting motion (translation, as opposed to a twisting or knocking motion) or elbow motion, while the knocking motion is used for moving in and out of the strings. It's actually easy as fuck, in my opinion, to play pretty much anything with this style. If you're doing palm mutes, you just need to change your angle just a little bit. Your hand will cover the strings on the pinky side but you won't using the side of your palm. It should be easy to either do a 'bounced' pick to hit higher strings without muting and if you're doing multiple notes you just twist your wrist a tiny bit to get your palm off the strings.

Comfort comes from relaxing and focusing on the music. Get your hand right and try to forget about what you're doing while still doing the right thing
#31
kmepie Not exactly. He practically attacks the strings from under, then mutes with his forearm. Regardless of your picking technique, you should never be trying to pick like Marty.