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How to make a good palm mute sound, like in heavy metal? If I palm mute my guitar, the only sound can be heard is the bass and less distortion. If I change my amplifier to a overdrive pedal, will it fix the sound? My amplifier is a Signature TM30 g and my guitar is Rockwell RG-02.

  • Related: music.stackexchange.com/questions/2175/… – Todd Wilcox Dec 5 '15 at 20:46
  • Remember that most metal records you hear are recorded and mixed to achieve that heavy saturated tone. If you want to achieve something close to that, put all of the tone and gain knobs on your amp at 12 o'clock and adjust as you need to. Also you won't be able to swap the amp for a pedal, do you mean you want to use an overdrive pedal as well as the amp? – Jamie Brace Dec 7 '15 at 9:15
  • Muting the string will naturally lower the volume of the note and therefore the distortedness of the sound, which is normally the desired effect for palm muting. By using a compressor before your amp you can increase the volume of muted notes. – Dave Halsall Jan 5 '16 at 15:09
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This is something that is mostly down to how you palm mute - the distortion is only a small aspect of it.

First up, as Jamie commented, you'll want a lot of gain, both on your guitar and on your distortion or overdrive - really crank it up.

Then play around with how you are muting - you can use the edge of your hand in a lot of ways, including:

  • selectively muting strings (harder mute on bass strings, for example, or letting some ring a little)
  • muting over the bridge allows more sustain, muting over the neck pickup deadens the sound instantly - somewhere in between may work for you
  • timing changes everything - you can mute at the point you pick the string, or just after to allow a little bit more attack
  • guitar pickup selectors and tone controls change the sound significantly
  • picking direction is impottant

As an example, a classic Metallica sound from one of their old albums requires amp gain up very high, distortion up high, the edge of the hand firmly over the bridge pickup, and pickup selector set to include both pickups - at least on my old Jackson with Seymour Duncan humbuckers, and tone control set to as trebley as you can. Make every stroke a downstroke, and really dig into the lower strings.

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Well the amount of gain or distortion will have a lot to do with the kind of palm-mute sound that you are getting. A good amount of gain always will help to achieve a good heavy palm mute.

The equaliser settings also will change the heaviness you get from your palm-mute,more often then not metal guitarists scoop out the mids leading to dull palm mute, try increasing the mids in the eq settings.

How you hit the strings also makes a difference to the sound, while hitting the lower strings try be more aggressive. Practice heavy,fast downpicking (see James Hetfield) that helped my palm muting a lot.

Finally, you need to find the sweet spot to place your palm.If the palm is to close to the bridge, palm mute won't be effective on the other hand as you place it closer to the fretboard, you get a very dull sound.

Practice palm-muting while downpicking and moving the position of your palm and you will eventually find a sweet spot where you will get a heavy palm mute.

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The problem you are having has nothing to do with the distortion, but with your palm mute technique. To properly palm mute you want to:

  • Have the side of the palm touch the strings you want to be palm muted.
  • Not be too close to the bridge (No PM or very weak) or too far from the bridge (Muted strings).
  • Hit the string a lot harder with your pick than you would normally.

You should play a little with your hand's position on the strings until you get a satisfying tone, and downpick on PMs to get a fatter tone which is what you are looking for in metal.

In addition:

  • You DO NOT need to crank up the amp, but hit the strings harder. When you are PMing the strings, you need to apply more force to get the same strong tone. Turning up the amp is never a solution, just a quick fix - it will not help you develop your technique and you will be limited.
  • You can PM on a classical guitar (example). This shows you that you don't need effects, just a good technique.

As my brother told me before I bought my first distortion pedal - You want to practice without distortion as distortion tends to hide mistakes.

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Technique certainly is a big factor on getting a good palm mute, however, I find the same problem. Certain amp settings don't allow for a good chunky plum mute sound, particularly with single coil pick ups. Whilst still possible with single coils, Humbuckers seem to respond more easily in my experience to this technique.

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