Palm Muting Intro
Ok, so if you’re like me then you love the electric guitar for one thing in particular: distortion! And let’s be honest here: it’s pretty freakin’ cool! Playing with a lot of gain (distortion) on your amp makes it react to the guitar in a different way from using the clean channel, a more responsive way (if I can get away with saying that!) This increased response allows you to get away with a variety of techniques, the first of which—and my personal favorite if I do say so myself—is the palm mute.
What is a palm mute? It’s muting the strings with your palm! The sound is dramatically changed when this is performed: a bassy, percussive quality is added to the muted note because all the high-end of the chord has been scooped out (absorbed) by the palm. Adding palm-muted notes can easily create an interesting, expressive riff out of an unchanging chord–a favorite among rock players like myself
How do you do a palm mute? Lots of practice! This muting is done by using the base of your picking hand on the pinky-side, at the heel where it meets the wrist. Sound complicated? Yeah, I know, just watch the video for help! You’ll need to rest your heel right in front of the bridge, just before the point where your string meets the saddle. In time you will know exactly how to mute strings by feel alone, but for now just be patient and trust your ear. Listen for bass response from your amp. Play with a lot of gain. Start this exercise with the low E string because it is the easiest string to mute and it will give you the most noticeable response when you mute it correctly. Strike the E string open and listen, then strike it muted and hear the difference–it should be dramatic. The goal is to get the note muted, but note too muted. The note needs to ring, muffled by the flesh of your picking hand, but not too much or it will loose tone. The string needs to vibrate strongly underneath your palm–move too far out (towards the neck) and the tone will start to fade. Press very lightly at first and try different areas around the bridge until you find the sweet spot.
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