New to guitar - tips on palm muting please

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by AndyPanda, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

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    I'm a long time musician but new to guitar. I've had my tele for about two weeks and have been loving it. Practicing scales and chords and getting my picking and fingering down. I'm trying to understand right hand muting and, so far, what is working best for me is to get the fleshy heel of my hand right over the bridge and find the sweet spot where the note sounds but is damped so it dies when you move to the next string.

    My question is a "is this normal for all beginners? Or am I a mutant" type question. If I get my hand positioned on the wound E string (what's the naming convention when talking about strings "low" vs "high" or "first" and "sixth" (and if 1st and 6th, which is 1st?) Anyway .. if my hand is positioned for good muting on the wound E .. as I get to the G-B and unwound E string my hand has moved behind the bridge and isn't muting. SO I have to consciously move my hand forward (or it feels to me like I'm moving forward just to stay straight I'm guessing) as I go up the scale and then consciously pull my hand back as I come back down the scale.

    Any tips on this are much appreciated. Would a video help? I'm guessing it may be because I like to have the neck angled up so the guitar is at an angle and my picking hand probably goes straight down - that would explain why it feels like I have to bring my picking hand forward as I move down towards the G-B-E strings. But if I bring the neck down so it's horizontal, that forces my fretting hand wrist into an uncomfortable bend --- and as I get older (I'm 65) I find I have to keep those wrists really straight.

    I'm guessing this is just a "keep at it until it becomes second nature" type thing.

    OH .. also, when I watch videos I see picking hands open with third, ring and pinky fingers on the pick guard below the strings - and I find this seems to make it easier for me to palm mute (especially the G-B-E strings). But I had thought that keeping those fingers together to support the forefinger in gripping the pick was good (from a brief attempt at learning mandolin - that pick grip is Chris Thile's recommended method).
     
  2. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    "Low" and "high" refer to relative pitch, so "low E" is the fat one, aka the 6th string. "High E" is the skinny, 1st string.

    In my experience, you're going to shift your hand every time you change what string you're palm muting on. Perhaps less so on adjacent strings, and more so the farther you get from whatever string you're already on. It also depends on how much "mute" you're going for, which can change case-by-case, string-to-string, riff-to-riff...

    There are probably videos and such, and others here may have more tips. But I really think it's a matter of doing it and paying attention to getting the sound you intend until it becomes second nature. We already make all kinds of unconscious adjustments while playing, with both hands. Bending, vibrato, strumming, pick attack. Palm muting is just another one of these.

    Since you mention your guitar angle, one other thing I would suggest is to play with your strap length and the angle you keep your guitar at. Speaking for myself, I found that I like my guitar sitting a touch higher than I initially thought I would, but I also move it around like crazy. I move the body from directly in front of me(mostly South of my belt buckle) to a "45-degree angle" to right at my hip with the neck pointing in front of me. Admittedly, part of it is having fun and playing the "rock n' roll" part, but it also has to do with what's most comfortable and allows me to best play whatever I have to play. I'm sure I do a lot of unconscious neck-angle adjustment, as well.

    Many of us forget that playing an instrument can be an athletic activity, albeit less obviously so than others. If you're not used to playing and moving around with a hunk of wood hanging from your neck, that's going to affect your playing until you do get used to it.
     
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  3. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Muting is an acquired thing; just like a good cigar. You must develop different approaches to the mute, depending, also upon whom you are trying to emulate. The palm heel is the correct technique, but, other factors enter into the equation.
    The rhythm of the song especially. Sometimes it’s a bounce, or even a double-bounce, or a bounce with or without a rest. It almost depends on the nuances of the song.
     
  4. Luthi3rz

    Luthi3rz Tele-Meister

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    You know what makes you really good at Palm muting out of necessity? Play Arpeggios.

    What you can do is when you pick across the strings from Low E to high E is move your arm forward so that as you are picking
    your hand is moving away from the Bridge or try and keep it parallel to the bridge. I have to do this because I naturally want to
    bend at the elbow and then I am over the bridge and in my case with a Stratocaster hitting my hand on the Volume Knob.
    You dig what I'm saying? You have to force yourself to not bend your arm or move towards the bridge as you go across the strings.
    This is going to keep the fleshy part of your hand on the strings to palm mute.

    And BTW its not easy, it take practice. A lot of practice. Like everything else on guitar.

    Also there is another way to pick that doesn't require you to swing your hand back and forth at the wrist like a Pendulum.


    You Rotate your forearm back and forth.
    Imagine you are holding a lite match between your finger and thumb and you want to put it out.
    Rotate your forearm really fast to put it out. It's like that only you are holding a Pick.

    Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  5. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

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    Yes this is exactly what I was trying to describe in my OP. And playing arpeggios is something I've been working on in addition to scales (also just picking out tunes that cross strings a lot and trying to keep the identical amount of mute on each note). Also finding that setting a metronome to a slower click rather than trying to play as fast as I can - that seems to help as I'm working more on consistency and getting that muscle memory.

    One thing I'm noticing is that my forearm gets stuck on the thick clear coat (new guitar) and so I've been trying to get my arm to hover over and just brushing the surface - tempting to break out a scotchbrite pad and satin up the finish there
     
  6. Grant Austin

    Grant Austin Tele-Meister

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    If your forearm is pressing hard enough to stick, I would suggest lightening that pressure before going the scotchbrite route. I think leaning on your forearm like that can cause injuries.
     
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  7. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

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    Yep ... as I said:
    I'm 65 and have been playing lots of other instruments before starting on guitar. I have to be conscious of wrist angles and pressure or the pain will show up pretty quickly.

    These modern finishes are much stickier than the old Nitro finish though - the clear coat on this G&L is really thick too. The way I'm practicing, now, is to just feel the hairs on my arm brushing on the surface and that allows me to more easily move forward and backward as I'm picking to try and keep the tone consistent across strings with the palm muting. It's going to take a little time and practice to get used to - especially when crossing one or more strings with the pick and not having any anchor point to reference ... but it's coming along.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
  8. matmosphere

    matmosphere Tele-Holic

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    So the strings are number 1-6 from thinnest to thickest. So the low E is string 6 and the high E is string 1. B is two, G is 3, D is 4 and A is 5

    The position you play makes a big difference here as well, especially when you are developing these skills. Look up how classical guitarist position themselves and the guitar. I believe it’s the “proper posture” and what guitars are ergonomically designed for. They use a small stool under their left foot and rest the guitar on their left knee. It points the neck if the guitar up and makes everything a bit easier on your wrist. It also forces you to develop better habits, like keeping your fretting hands thumb behind the neck (something I don’t do unless I’m forcing my brain to let me). vs holding your thumb up by the sixth string or wrapped around making some chords much harder to finger well.

    If you’re coming at this with some wrist problems just pay attention to ergonomics and try things out to find what is the most comfortable. Wearing a les Paul down by your knees like Jimmy Page does looks cool as hell, but it makes it harder to play. And I don’t think you’d want to try and learn like that. Find what’s most comfortable for you, build up some skills, habits and muscle memory, then you’ll find playing in other positions much easier.

    I’m sure there are many that might disagree, but I will say, having played with my guitar strapped pretty low for over twenty years I’m still a pretty terrible guitar player :)

    Really though. Figure out what works for you and have fun.
     
  9. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    It just takes time. But I will say, the Tele bridge seems makes it a bit harder than some guitars.
     
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  10. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

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    Mine is a G&L so individual saddles and no screws poking up.

    I'm getting used to it the more I practice ... E-A-D are easy to manage but G-B-E feel like I have to adjust and where I'm unsure is that there are two methods I've come up with and not sure if I should just practice both and know when to use which. Or pick one and master it.

    One method is with a closed hand (my middle, ring and pinky are curved and supporting my forefinger) --- this way I have to move my hand towards the neck as I go to the unwound strings. (this method is where I need to make sure my forearm isn't sticking to glossy body because I need to slide my forearm down and forward)

    the other way is to open my hand so middle, ring and pinky are open and the fleshy part of my palm under the pinky is now able to mute the three unwound strings --- when I do this I almost have to pull my hand back towards the bridge as I get to the unwound strings. This might be more natural if my elbow bends and naturally brings the hand back and I don't notice the forearm sticking to the body finish as much.
     
  11. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    You're thinking too much.
    Leaving your hand in one place to mute the low and high E strings is no better an idea that leaving your hand in the same place to pick those strings.
    Just move your hand to where it needs to be.
    Or am I missing something?
     
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  12. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

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    I'm not saying I hold my hand in one place or same place (aren't both of those the same things anyway? o_O)

    What I'm saying is open hand gives me more fleshy area to mute with and I find I move differently.

    The only reason I had for using a closed hand pick hold is from Chris Thile's YouTube video (I once thought I could learn mandolin - it may not apply to electric guitar). On Mandolin the strings are much higher from the body. On electric guitar the strings are close to the body and a closed hand pick grip doesn't allow the palm to get to the strings as easily (at least not for me)


    But most of the YouTube videos I watch about beginning electric guitar I see an open hand pick hold.

    Here is a picture of what I was trying to say in the earlier post ... I hope this clears up what I am asking.

    PickHold.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
  13. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    Palm muting is kinda like a third hand.
    Don't even think about it, just listen for it.
    (It's the only trick I've got)
     
  14. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

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    Thanks! Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm doing. But always curious, when I find two ways to do the same thing, if there are long term advantages to focusing on one over the other -- or if there is more advantage (versatility) in having both tools in your tool kit. I generally lean towards the more tools in my kit, the better.
     
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  15. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Consider spending a few bucks on lessons. A good teacher who knows what you are trying to do and sees how you are doing it can give you some very specific advice. Money well spent to jump up the learning curve.

    I've been playing over fifty years, and I rarely palm mute. I do a lot of muting with my left hand using the sides of my fingers to silence adjacent strings.

    You are just getting started, so just playing a lot and experimenting is probably the best thing to do. A lot of things must feel awkward now, but that will pass.
     
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  16. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I, and most other electric guitar hacks, use an open hand grip.
    If I discipline myself to use a closed hand, I can actually pick faster and more precisely.
    I also think it makes an acoustic guitar a bit louder and fuller...really...try it.
    It's a damn sight less subtle than nitro vs. poly.
    If you REALLY want to experience closed hand, try it with rhythm sticks.
    Hold your palm up and curl your fingers toward the heel leaving just enough space so the stick won't fall through; now lie the stick along the space and hit it with the other stick.
    The difference between that and any other methid is huhe.
    But, I digress.
    I suppose Al DiMeola is the king of the palm mute with speed..
    Check if he has any videos.
     
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  17. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Try different approaches till you find what works for you ... It will come naturally, but not instantly ... No substitute for practice ...
     
  18. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

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    I'd love to spend a few bucks on lessons. Where I live, guitar lessons are $80-100 a lesson. I'm getting more mileage with online resources at this point. I appreciate the responses I get here in these forums, I learn a lot here:D
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  19. SuprHtr

    SuprHtr Tele-Meister

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    YIKES!!! Cost of living has a knock-on effect! Guitar instructors have to eat, but, wow... I pay $25 for a 1/2 hour lesson. I get a good boost from each lesson but I sometimes go as much as three months between lessons due to my work schedule. My work schedule also robs me of practice time. Retirement can't come soon enough.:(
     
  20. Luthi3rz

    Luthi3rz Tele-Meister

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    Some people like to use a 6' forearm sweatband wristband or long sleeve shirts to stop their arm from sticking on the body.
     
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