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I find it difficult to decide on where to position/rest my right hand (picking hand) when playing electric guitar. I started with acoustic and i have a habit of resting my pinky finger on the guitar body and i am very much comfortable playing this way.

Since last few months i have started practicing leads on electric guitar and when i switch to distortion mode there's a lot of unwanted noise (when moving to different strings) to which the solution suggested on various tutorials and videos is palm muting.

For this palm muting trick i have to rest my palm on to bridge so i am kinda confused where do i actually place my hand and rest it.

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5 Answers 5

If you can't control which strings are sounding, it will be very apparent on an electric versus an acoustic guitar. You're probably noticing it when you use the crunch channel because you're getting a bit of compression so even strings that are not sounding "too much" are quite apparent. I always keep my palm near the bridge if not on it so I can stop strings I don't want to hear.

In point of fact, there really is only one effective way to stop strings from ringing until they run out of the energy imparted by the pick: Put your hand on them. You can do this with your left hand (I sometimes use my thumb when I want the low E string muted) but it will slow you down quite a bit. The palm works great.

And don't try to be too perfect :)

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+1 for the last paragraph. If you're emulating the big names, aspire to their live recordings not their studio recordings. –  slim Feb 10 '12 at 13:54

You can actually place your right hand in a number of places. When I am right hand muting I tend to use just the edge of my hand and place it above the bridge pickup. If I am damping (playing muted notes) I move my hand back towards the bridge a bit.

You may find more success or accuracy using a bit of left hand muting too. As it is often holding a chord a spare finger may be available nearby.

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To mute all the unwanted noise from other strings, you should use a combination of pick hand and fret hand muting. The pick hand will mute at least all the strings up to two lower than the one you are playing on. It is possible to mute even the next lower string to the one you are playing with the pick hand, but it can be tricky to do this and not mute the string you are playing.

The fret hand will mute the next lower string to the one you are playing and all the higher strings. This is done by adjusting the angle your finger (almost always the index finger) sits on the string. In the ideal position, the tip of the index finger will rest against the next lower string (muting, but not depressing it) and the length of the finger will lightly rest across the higher strings.

For example, if you are playing on the 3rd string: - your pick hand will mute the 6th and 5th strings (palm mute style) - your fret hand index finger will mute the 4th string by resting the tip of the finger against it - your fret hand index finger will mute the 2nd and 1st strings by lightly resting across them.

The tricky part of this is being able to accurately continue this muting strategy while quickly moving across strings. However, the cleanliness of solos you will experience is well worth the effort.

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If you prefer a demonstration of how muting can be done by a pro, I suggest Eric Johnson's "Total Electric Guitar" video, where he goes through how to do both left hand and right hand muting in detail.

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Addressing the "where to rest the hand" part; I suggest you try to free yourself from resting the pinky on the guitar. It's going to stress-out your wrist because all the motion is happening there. Also, as a friend of mine pointed out, the top of the guitar wants to vibrate freely: pressing on the top will interfere with that vibration, affecting your tone and volume. Now, with a fingerstyle technique, you can rest a finger on a muted string, but never on the top (very rarely: rest on the edge of the soundhole). And with a pick, it'll stifle your attack, and reduce your ability to modulate tone by changing picking location because your range of motion is restricted to the length of that darn pinky.

Instead, imagine your arm is like the arm on a turntable: the pick is the needle, the elbow is the counterweight, and you attach the fulcrum to position the needle near the grooves. So the middle of your forearm rests against the edge of the guitar body so you can keep your wrist straight.

This way, all the power comes from your elbow. The wrist is now free to perform finer nuances like accurately selecting which strings to strike.

Now, to actually do a palm-mute now requires a slight modification. You hold the elbow bent but (relatively) motionless and you drive from the shoulder. So the picking hand makes a uniform motion across the strings, and you can bounce the palm against the bridge while striking. This lets you mute without choking: merely resting the palm on the bridge will mute the ringing as well as the attack, and you'll never get that sweet nymph-tone.

Even with a palm-mute, your picking hand should never be resting unless there's a rest in the music. And during such a real rest, the hand should rest against all the strings, preventing all sound. The forearm is the Drive Shaft of the pulse of the music. The chug-a-lugg of the tugboat. Drop no anchor.

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