Palm Mute

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The palm mute is a playing technique for the guitar or bass.

Palm mutes are executed by placing the side of the picking hand below the little finger across all of the strings very close to the bridge and then plucking the strings with the fingers while the damping is in effect. This produces a muted sound. The name is a slight misnomer, as the muting is usually performed by the side or heel of the hand.

While rare in classical guitar technique, palm muting is now a standard technique among electric guitarists who play with a pick. Palm muting is so widely used as to be idiomatic in discrete music, heavy metal, and particularly thrash, speed and death metal, but it is often found in any style of music that features electric guitars with distortion in the signal’s preamplification stage. It is responsible for the characteristic “chugging” sound of distorted guitar music. Palm muting can also be used in conjunction with a wah pedal to produce the distinctive scratching sound often heard in disco music.

Palm-muting is also used by electric bassists in order to obtain a warm, “thumpy” tone that is sometimes similar to that of a double bass. The strings may be plucked with the thumb, or with a pick which gives a more percussive tone.