Muffle and Mute

by Will Landrum

Palm muting is a very popular and essential guitar technique
that spans many styles including rock and metal.

Although this technique is frequently called palm "muting",
I prefer palm "muffling" because muting implies the complete
absence of sound.

The effect we're aiming for here is a "deadening" of the notes
that still retains the tonality of those notes. This is yet
another way to create dynamics in your playing.

No doubt you've heard this technique before but may not have
thought about it too much. Here's how you do it:

Your rhythm hand position is crucial. The key is to rest the
pinky side of your hand on the guitar bridge where the strings
are riding.

Resting your hand too far forward will kill the tone of your
notes so you don't want that.

Resting your hand too far back will allow the strings to ring
out too much and the effect is diminished.

So what you need to do is just rest your hand on the bridge
and pick your strings. Move your hand forward and backward to
"home in" on the optimal spot.

Here's a quick exercise that I've put together for you. As
you can see and hear, you can muffle chords as well as
individual notes.

Play this until your muffling sounds similar to mine in the
audio and be sure to remember exactly where your hand is

Practice raising and lowering your hand to get a feel for the

Need help reading tablature?

The audio for this example is at

m = muffle

      m  m  m     m  m  m     m  m  m
E --------------------------------------------------
B --------------------------------------------------
G --------------------------------------5--7--------
D -2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2---5--7--------
A -2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2--2---3--5--------
E -o--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--o---------------

      m  m  m
E --------------------------------------------------
B --------------------------------------------------
G --------------------------------------------------
D -------------2------------------------------------
A -2-----------2------------------------------------
E ----5--3--2--o------------------------------------


Another essential technique that you must posses as part of
your control is the ability to mute your sound. Yes, this
time I mean actually silencing your guitar completely.

This time your fingering hand gets the call.

Basically, all you do is gently lay your fingers on the
strings on the neck and silence all sound. Obviously if you
squeeze too tight, you're going to fret a note somewhere.

Since you're moving from "sound" to "no sound", the first
stage of this technique is fretting a note or chord.

The second stage is lifting your fretting fingers away from
the neck quickly, but not so much as to lose contact with the

As soon as you lift away, lay the rest of your fingers on
the strings so that there is no sound coming from the guitar.

Now, if you're ending a song or your silence is needed for a
few bars in your music, The best thing to do is follow the
steps above and then turn the volume knob on your guitar all
the way down. That way you can relax if you want and don't
have to worry about accidentally making a sound where it
doesn't belong.

In the following example, I'm simply muting an A power chord
in a manner that you might play during a song.

The audio for this example is at

m = mute

         m   m   m       m  volume down
E --------------------------------------------------
B --------------------------------------------------
G -2---2---2---2---2---2----------------------------
D -2---2---2---2---2---2----------------------------
A -o---o---o---o---o---o----------------------------
E --------------------------------------------------

Again, techniques like muffling and muting, create more dynamics
in your playing, and ultimately your music.

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