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Old 12-10-2018, 10:57 AM
raduray raduray is offline
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Default Beginner palm muting question

I'm taking David Hamburger's Beginner Fingerstyle Blues course on TrueFire.com. He teaches using the first three fingers on the picking hand to play melody on the three high strings and the thumb to play rhythm on the low three strings. The thumb notes should be palm muted.

I'm having a hard time finding a single picking hand position that mutes all three low strings without muting any of the three top strings. Should I just get used to having to change the palm mute position as the thumb moves from one string to another, or should I keep experimenting with different positions that mutes all three low strings? I would hope to accomplish the latter so as to minimize hand movement, but am curious to find what others do.

BTW, David Hamburger's course is excellent. Starts basic, with simple chord voicings, and slowly works its way up in complexity.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:13 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Originally Posted by raduray View Post
I'm taking David Hamburger's Beginner Fingerstyle Blues course on TrueFire.com. He teaches using the first three fingers on the picking hand to play melody on the three high strings and the thumb to play rhythm on the low three strings. The thumb notes should be palm muted.

I'm having a hard time finding a single picking hand position that mutes all three low strings without muting any of the three top strings. Should I just get used to having to change the palm mute position as the thumb moves from one string to another, or should I keep experimenting with different positions that mutes all three low strings? I would hope to accomplish the latter so as to minimize hand movement, but am curious to find what others do.

BTW, David Hamburger's course is excellent. Starts basic, with simple chord voicings, and slowly works its way up in complexity.
Don't take the 'palm muting' thing too literally.

I don't rest on the bass strings with my palm, but the side of my hand down from the pinky. Why is that? It's because everyone is built differently, holds the guitar different ways, sits or stands, etc.

Muting should always be available, like the brake in a car. Don't engage it as if it were a parking brake, and then try to drive away.

Subtle application is all that's needed, as needed.

Let your ergonomics & ears dictate the best way to accomplish what David is teaching you. He's fabulous player & teacher!

HE
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:31 AM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Easier to get your picking hand in the correct muting position when using a thumb pick. So you may want to try that if you are currently not using one.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:42 AM
raduray raduray is offline
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Don't take the 'palm muting' thing too literally.

I don't rest on the bass strings with my palm, but the side of my hand down from the pinky. Why is that? It's because everyone is built differently, holds the guitar different ways, sits or stands, etc.

Muting should always be available, like the brake in a car. Don't engage it as if it were a parking brake, and then try to drive away.

Subtle application is all that's needed, as needed.

Let your ergonomics & ears dictate the best way to accomplish what David is teaching you. He's fabulous player & teacher!

HE
Thank you for your response. I do understand that "palm" muting is achieved by resting the side of your hand on the saddle, slightly overlapping the vibrating strings. When you do that, do you cover all three low strings, or do you need to shift your hand as the base line changes strings? I'm willing to keep working at trying to achieve that, but I want to know if that's achievable given a normal (actually I have relatively small hands) anatomy.
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Old 12-10-2018, 12:53 PM
SunnyDee SunnyDee is offline
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I'm confused by palm muting instruction myself. Mostly, I don't understand why I'm trying to mute strings that I'm not hitting, anyway. This usually seems to be when people are strumming. Why am I muting then? But this one, does this mean, I am playing those strings, but I want them to sound "mutey"? I think I'm confused because if I only see this in videos, not live, it's hard to see what people are really doing.
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:05 PM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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Hi rudaray,

I am also a relative newcomer to finger style, and had the same struggle.

I messed around with it on and off for months, until my instructor assigned a piece where it was required (a la Chet Atkins, but I don't use a thumb pick).

What worked for me was the feeling that I was rotating the top of my hand back towards my chin in a counterclockwise direction. Also resting the heel of the hand very lightly on the bridge (I'm not a pinky planter and my hand usually floats free). To answer one of your questions, I do not have the sensation that my hand is moving around depending on which strings are being muted.

You might look up some videos of Mississippi John Hurt to get an idea of what I am talking about. There is one of him on a TV show (I believe Pete Seeger is the host) that really shows off his right hand.

The best advice I can give you is not to obsess over this, it will come via trial and error, and once you have it you won't lose it. It really is like riding a bike.

Best of luck!
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Old 12-10-2018, 05:57 PM
raduray raduray is offline
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Originally Posted by SunnyDee View Post
I'm confused by palm muting instruction myself. Mostly, I don't understand why I'm trying to mute strings that I'm not hitting, anyway. This usually seems to be when people are strumming. Why am I muting then? But this one, does this mean, I am playing those strings, but I want them to sound "mutey"? I think I'm confused because if I only see this in videos, not live, it's hard to see what people are really doing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc3bFLjdXys
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0ocjT3gObE
Easy. NOT!

Last edited by raduray; 12-10-2018 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 12-16-2018, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by raduray View Post
I'm taking David Hamburger's Beginner Fingerstyle Blues course on TrueFire.com. He teaches using the first three fingers on the picking hand to play melody on the three high strings and the thumb to play rhythm on the low three strings. The thumb notes should be palm muted.

I'm having a hard time finding a single picking hand position that mutes all three low strings without muting any of the three top strings. Should I just get used to having to change the palm mute position as the thumb moves from one string to another, or should I keep experimenting with different positions that mutes all three low strings? I would hope to accomplish the latter so as to minimize hand movement, but am curious to find what others do.

BTW, David Hamburger's course is excellent. Starts basic, with simple chord voicings, and slowly works its way up in complexity.
I rest my hand on the bridge and the base of my thumb and part of my hand mutes the D A E strings which leaves the trebles un-muted.

BUT....

The sentence
Quote:
He teaches using the first three fingers on the picking hand to play melody on the three high strings and the thumb to play rhythm on the low three strings
represents a few hours, if not weeks of practice. At first you'll probably unintentionally mute one, two or all three of the trebles. Its a dexterity thing that just has to be learned. As you get the hang of it, you'll be able to shift your hand on the fly to accomplish what you need to do. Just go slow, it comes over time.
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Old 12-19-2018, 09:47 AM
jfq722 jfq722 is offline
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And if there's anything to the idea that hearing what palm muting sounds like gets you more prepared to adjust your hand to GET that sound...
I always practiced palm muting on a guitar with super DEAD strings, which were practically self muting.
A song like "Don't mess around with Jim" was great for that.

When you get used to that sound ,I found it easier to recreate it on good strings.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:08 AM
lar lar is offline
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Step 1: Make sure to wear a thumb pick so the strings ring out loud and clear.

Step 2: Mute the strings with your palm so they sound faint and muddy.

.
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Old 12-31-2018, 02:45 AM
Standicz Standicz is offline
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Originally Posted by raduray View Post
When you do that, do you cover all three low strings, or do you need to shift your hand as the base line changes strings? I'm willing to keep working at trying to achieve that, but I want to know if that's achievable given a normal (actually I have relatively small hands) anatomy.
Yes you definitely CAN shift your hand . Actually, watch Tomy Emmanuel, he moves his hand up and down a lot as he thumbs bass strings. That way, you not only mute the correct string with the right intensity, but also hit it with the right force. Many people don't move their hand at all and that is O.K. if that's what works for them. Some people don't mute at all...whatever works for your style.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
...but the side of my hand down from the pinky.
I did that sometimes also, because I'm quite skinny and don't have much meat on my "thumbstick." But you won't probably get the best tone with your melody fingers because they attack the string under much shaper angle and you don't have that much freedom with them. The correct way is definitely to use your thumb meat.


The most important thing is to get your thumb going. Try practicing the thumb only. Rest your fingers, do nothing with them and just concentrate on your thumb. Try to do that for a while every time you practice. Solid beat, fluid, try chord changes.

When you start concentrating on a melody of a song, your thumb should be autonomous, so you need to make it automatic first...that being said, it can be a little boring so playing a tune from time to time is also important, just to keep you interested.

Last edited by Standicz; 12-31-2018 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:12 AM
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vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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I had to pick up my guitar to see how I actually "palm mute" which is partially a misnomer as a large part of the muting is done with the fat muscle of my thumb-but there is some palm involved.

What I had not realized what I was doing was that as I plucked the upper strings after muting the lower the action of I/M/A fingers (1st, 2nd, 3rd) caused my hand to naturally lift away from the strings. In other words my hand POSITION doesn't change, but lifts away slightly when I'm playing other strings that I'm not muting. I'd like to make a video illustrating the action but not sure if I can get to it today.
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:18 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raduray View Post
I do understand that "palm" muting is achieved by resting the side of your hand on the saddle, slightly overlapping the vibrating strings. When you do that, do you cover all three low strings, or do you need to shift your hand as the base line changes strings?
I cover all three bass strings. I don't move my hand, and find it easy to just rest on the bass strings and avoid touching the others - it's a very light pressure, I'm not pushing down on the bridge. The side of the palm is angled up a little towards the pinky, so that it doesn't make contact with strings past the 4th string. Naturally, the pressure (such as it is) is a little more on the 6th than on the 4th, and sometimes the 4th might ring or the 3rd might get slightly damped. No big deal either way.
It's certainly a subtle thing, and needs some experimentation to get right.

I don't use a thumb pick, btw, I find I can get my thumb nail to still contact the string as much as I need to.

"Palm muting" is really a misnomer: it's done with the side of the hand, and the strings are only slightly damped, not fully muted (silenced). The idea, obviously, is to make the bass strings sound something like a double bass, softer and more staccato. The notes are shortened a little, and the higher frequencies damped.
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