One of the main reasons why your playing doesn’t sound professional is that you’re muting sucks. Use these four amazing guitar muting techniques to improve your playing and sound by 1000%…
Ever wondered why your guitar tracks sound messy? Or, when you plug into an amp, everything just sounds like a big hot mess, lacking clarity and punch? There is a good reason for this: your guitar muting technique sucks. And fixing this will make you sound better overnight.
The Different Types of Guitar Muting
I’m not talking about palm muting either. That’s just one kind of muting. Or, as it is sometimes known: right-hand muting (if you’re right-handed). The other type of muting is known as left-hand muting and, the combination of the two is without question one of the most important techniques a neophyte guitarist can learn.
And the reason for this is simple: you’re reducing noise, improving the clarity of your playing, and these two things combined make you sound like a better guitarist. Your lead parts will sound better and your rhythm guitar will have more presence.
The War On Sympathetic Vibration
One of the easiest ways to test out this form of muting is to play a lick that you know backward and forwards without any proper muting and then, redo it, with correct muting techniques. I guarantee the difference will be like day and night.
For instance, if you play an E note on the D string, both the top and bottom E strings will sympathetically vibrate. And this creates noise – and noise is the enemy for good-sounding guitar work. To stop this noise from occurring, you need to mute the top and bottom E strings using a combination of left-hand and right-hand muting.
With the correct muting technique, you effectively mute ALL the strings you’re NOT playing which stops them from sympathetically vibrating or making any other sounds while you’re playing. This will make your guitar parts sound tighter, more detailed, and generally speaking more professional.
Learning correct guitar muting techniques is the quickest way to make your playing sound more professional. In fact, I would say it is important for any new players to spend at least a week learning these techniques. Once you have them down, you’ll automatically sound about 60% better than before – I know, I know, that sounds crazy. But it is 100% true.
Rolling Palm Muting
You already know how to palm mute, right? If not read this guide on palm muting first. Once you have that down, you can progress to what I call “rolling palm muting”, whereby you use your palm in increasing increments to mute out strings as you move down from E, to A, to D, to G, and to, B, and then E.
For instance, say you’re playing a lick on the D and G strings. With the palm on your right hand, you’ll be muting the E and A strings. If you move down to the G and B strings, you simply slide your palm down to mute out the E, A, and D strings.
You WILL need to change the placement of your palm, however, this isn’t the same as the type of palm muting you use for chugga-chugga riffs.
With rolling palm muting, you’ll want your hand placed in and around the bridge pickup area. Placing your palm here (and not on the bridge itself, as you do with palm muting) makes it easier to slide downwards and mute out individual or a series of strings.
Is this hard to do? At first, yes, it can be a little tricky. Eventually, it becomes second nature. I think it took me about a week of focussed practice, incorporating it into all my playing ALL THE TIME, to finally get it down. It’s all about being able to feel each string under your palm, to instinctively know which is which, and when you can do this things really start coming together.
The best way to practice right hand rolling palm muting is to take a run that you know, something like the A Minor Pentatonic, and just practice it over and over again. Once you have that down, try a song you know – something that uses all the strings. Do this for a week or two. By the end, you’ll have rolling palm muting down to a fine art.
Left-Hand Muting – The Easy Way
Sadly, right hand rolling palm muting is only one part of the equation when it comes to proper guitar muting technique. The best way to think about it is like this: the right hand takes care of the strings ABOVE where you’re playing and the left-hand takes care of the ones BELOW.
For instance, if you’re correctly muting the E, A, and D strings while playing a lick on the G string, you’ll still get sympathetic vibration on the high E string or the B String whenever you hit an E or a B note. That is unless you correctly mute these strings using left-handed guitar muting.
What is Left Hand Guitar Muting?
Your right hand is taking care of business up top, muting all the strings above where you’re playing. You’re riffing on the D string, so your right hand is taking out the E and A strings. With your left hand, you’ll want to mute the E, B, and E strings. But how do you do this?
It’s actually a lot simpler than rolling palm muting. You simply flatten out your fretting finger, so that it dampens the strings you’re not playing. For instance, if you’re playing on the D string, your left hand – or fretting finger – will rest on the G, B, and E strings, muting them.
As you move down strings, you apply the same technique as above: if you’re riffing on the B string, your fretting finger will rest on the E string, muting it out, while your palm muting is taking care of everything else. This will ensure that you ONLY hear the B string and nothing else.
This left-hand muting technique isn’t just for lead guitar, however, it will also tighten up your rhythm playing too. Try it with an E power chord. First, play the E power chord without left-hand muting. Then try it with left-hand muting. Hear the difference? One sounds like James Hetfield, the other sounds like a bag of feral cats. And THIS is the power of correct muting technique.
Combining Right And Left-Hand Guitar Muting
And now comes the HARD PART – combining the two methods described above into one seamless technique. This takes time. You will not get it down overnight. As I said earlier, it took me a solid couple of weeks before it became second nature. But the effect it had on the overall sound of my playing was incredible.
When you’re doing it properly, you’ll know: all you will hear is the strings that you’re playing. There will be no additional noise, no sympathetic vibration. Your lead guitar will scream and your rhythm guitar will be tighter than goldfish’s arsehole. But it will take time, so just make sure you stick with it – the benefits are just too good to miss out on.
We don’t have a YouTube channel yet. We are working on getting one, but for this last tip, I will have to refer you over to the one and only, Uncle Ben Eller – AKA one of the best YouTube guitar teachers on the planet.
His video covers most of what we’ve discussed above. But it has one last trick at the end which you will definitely want to see – it kind of blew my mind the first time I came across it. Check out the video in full below.