How To Palm Mute A Guitar

When you hear songs like Basket Case, All The Small Things, Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion, Master of Puppets you start thinking about how to get the heavy chugging guitar sound. The chugging sound is a result of the Palm Muting guitar technique. Let us learn how to palm mute a guitar.

What Is Palm Muting

Palm-muting is a picking hand guitar playing technique used to dampen the sound of strings. In palm muting, you use the outside fleshy area of your picking hand palm to mute the strings. This stops the guitar strings to vibrate freely and produces a damped or muted string sound when you pick them.

What Does Palm Muting Do

Palm muting produces a dampened/muted/muffled guitar string sound that is widely used in nearly all music genres. Palm muting gives the guitar sound a staccato feel. Palm muting sound is also used to accent the strumming/ picking patterns or to make the guitar chug.

How To Palm Mute

To Palm Mute A Guitar:

  1. Place the outside fleshy part of your picking hand palm across all the strings of the guitar near the guitar bridge. Make sure you apply adequate pressure.
  2. Make sure you angle your picking wrist a little outwards so that it becomes easy to palm mute.
  3. While keeping your palm down on the strings, strum guitar strings normally. This will produce a dampened/muted sound.

Steps To Palm Mute Guitar

Important Palm Muting Tips

To properly palm mute guitar with proper technique:

  1. Make sure you are applying adequate pressure with your picking hand to dampen the strings. If you apply too much pressure, the strings will not resonate at all. If you apply too little pressure, strings will buzz when you pick them palm muted.
  2. Your picking hand should be positioned near the bridge to get proper palm muted sound.
  3. Tilt your picking hand wrist outwards, so it becomes easy to pick the guitar while it is palm muted.

How To Strum Guitar With Palm Muting

You can combine palm muting with normal strumming to produce accented strumming patterns. Just palm mute the guitar strings on the beats that you wish to accent. Combining palm muting with strumming makes strumming patterns more interesting and appealing to the listener.

Here are some commonly used palm muting strumming patterns:

  1. DXDXDXDX - Here X represents a palm muted Up Stroke.
  3. D DX XDX - Spaces Represent a Rest Half Note Beat.
  4. X X X X - This is all downstroke Palm Muted Pattern. Widely Used On Electric Guitars While Playing Power Chords.
  5. XXDX- All Down Stroke Palm Mute Strumming Pattern.
  6. Dxx Dxx Dxx Dxx - This is a Gallop Rhythm Pattern used widely by artists in Rock and Metal Music. Gallop Rhythm is a triplet pattern in which the first Downstroke is an Eighth note, followed by two Sixteenth note muted alternate down and up strokes.
  7. xxD xxD xxD xxD- This is another Gallop Rhythm Pattern widely used in chugging and metal music.

Muting Using Fretting Hand

You can combine palm muting with your fretting hand muting techniques to make even more and bouncy guitar riffs. To mute a guitar with your fretting hand, all you need to do is choke the strings on the fretboard with your fretting hand. This will also produce a dampened/muted sound when picked.

Fretting hand and palm muting combination is widely used in metal music with heavily distorted electric guitars.

Importance Of Palm Muting

Learning to palm mute will make your playing more interesting. You can add different sound pallets to your playing. You can also add in accent patterns using palm mute, making your guitar riffs sound a lot more dynamic. Interesting rhythm techniques like a gallop, chugging can also be achieved using palm muting.

How To Practice Palm Muting

Here are some palm muting exercises that you can do to practice palm muting. Start with all downstrokes and slowly move onto complex strumming patterns. I suggest you watch the palm muting video lesson to practice along with these strumming patterns.

Exercise 1 Palm Muting

Practice Exercise Palm Muting
practice Exercise palm Muting Page2
practice Exercise palm Muting Page3


Click Here To Download Palm Muting Exercise PDF


Where Should You Position Your Hand To Mute?

To Palm mute guitar, the outside fleshy part of your picking hand palm should be rested near the bridge of the guitar. Make sure you are applying adequate pressure with your picking hand to dampen the strings. Also ensure your picking hand is tilted a little outwards so that you can easily pick and palm mute a guitar.

How Can I Improve My Palm Muting?

To improve your palm muting, learn to play songs that incorporate a lot of palm muting techniques. A lot of songs by Metallica, Megadeath, Avengesevnfold, Tool, Blink 182, Greenday, Korn and other rock and metal bands incorporate palm muting. Try learning these songs. This will help you improve your palm muting.

Best Songs That Use Palm Muting?

Best palm muting songs on guitar are:

  1. All The Small Things - Blink 182
  2. Basket Case — Greenday
  3. The Pot — Tool
  4. Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion - Royal Blood
  5. Master Of Puppets — Metallica
  6. The Anthem — Good Charlotte
  7. Holy Wars — Megadeath
  8. Walk — Pantera
  9. Blind — Korn
  10. Metalingus — Alter Bridge:

Can You Palm Mute An Electric Guitar?

Yes. You can palm mute an electric and also an acoustic guitar. Palm Muting is more common with heavily distorted guitars. When you palm mute an electric guitar, it produces a chugging effect which can be heard in songs like — Basket Case by Greenday.

Is Palm Muting and Chugging the Same?

Palm Muting is a technique that results in chugging, a sound when plam muting is done on a heavily distorted guitar. Chugging is a result of palm muting a heavily distorted guitar. You can use palm muting on an electric guitar to produce chugging riffs like the machine gun, gallop, build up, getaway, train effect, breakdown and a lot more.


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Udeeksh Sood on

Udeeksh is an Audio Engineer. He loves to produce music, research music gear, play guitar, go on treks and road trips.