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I have been playing guitar for probably about 10 years now and my primary guitar at the moment is an American Deluxe Fender Stratocaster with a humbucker for the bridge pickup and 2 single coils. The tone of the guitar is beautiful and the fingerboard moves like butter, but I've always had trouble finding the right way to palm mute using this guitar.

The center pickup sits directly under where the pick naturally wants to be and always seems to be in the way... If I try to compensate by moving my hand right or left, my palm is no longer in the ideal spot to palm mute effectively.

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When I'm not palm muting I simply strum in the space between the neck and center pickup, but I like to play a lot of heavier stuff which uses excessive palm muting. The position of the center pickup just makes it feel awkward.

I know there's ton's of people out there who own Strats. Even if you don't like metal, every style of music uses palm muting in one form or another.

How have you overcome this problem?

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I see two options here. (The third one would be changing your hand position, but you've tried that already and it doesn't work). One would be to see if you really need to move your pick so deep into the strings. I play a Strat and when I palm mute, my pick is also right above the middle pick up but I rarely touch it because my pick doesn't go that deep. The other obvious option is to lower the middle pick up. Very little might be enough to avoid hitting it with the pick. The down side is of course that you lose some volume from the middle pick up. You might also try to just lower the top side of the pick up (because there's where the pick will touch) while leaving the lower end at its normal height. In this way you'll only lose a bit of volume in the lower strings, not in the higher ones.

But it is indeed a common problem. I've seen people rip out their middle pick up for that very reason. Oh, that's the third option then!

  • I actually more commonly scrape it when playing the higher strings since the pickup is more raised up for those strings. Unfortunately it looks like a problem I just have to live with or somehow adapt to... My pickups are all at the recommended height and if I'm very careful I won't hit the middle pickup while palm muting, but it is still annoying. – tjwrona1992 Aug 6 '15 at 23:45
  • @tjwrona1992: If the pick-up negatively affects your playing, you should do something about it. If I were you I'd lower it as much as necessary. If you feel that the sound becomes unbalanced when combining the middle PU with the other PUs, then you need to lower the other ones as well. The loss in output is no big deal with today's amplifiers. The instrument needs to be adapted to your needs, not the other way around. And don't worry about "recommended heights" for PUs, because if you look at the settings of pro players, you'll find that everybody chooses them differently. – Matt L. Aug 7 '15 at 9:05

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