How to Mute the Right Hand on the Guitar

You can mute with your right hand on the guitar (using the heel of the palm), but this produces a different effect than left-hand muting. In right-hand muting, you still hear the sound of the fretted string, but in a subdued way. You don’t use right-hand muting to stop the sound completely, as you do in a left-hand mute; you just want to suppress the string from ringing freely.

Like left-hand muting, right-hand muting keeps your tone from experiencing runaway ring-out, but additionally it provides an almost murky, smoldering sound to the notes, which can be quite useful for dramatic effect. You sometimes hear this technique referred to as chugging.

You perform a right-hand mute by anchoring the heel of your right hand on the strings just above the bridge. Don’t place your hand too far forward or you’ll completely deaden the strings. Do it just enough so that the strings are dampened (damping is a term which means to externally stop a string from ringing) slightly, but still ring through. Keep it there through the duration of the strum.

If a palm mute (as right-hand muting is known) de-emphasizes a string strike, then its evil twin, the accent, draws attention to a string strike. An accent is easy to execute: Just strike the string or strings harder than usual, and lift your right hand palm from the strings as you do, to allow the strings to ring free.

The result is that the accented strum stands out above all the rest. An accent is indicated with a ` just above or below the note head.

Palm mutes are much easier to perform if only one or two of the strings are struck, due to the restricted movement of the right hand caused by anchoring it to the strings’ surface above the bridge. This is a rhythm figure where you strike only the lowest note of the chord on the palm mutes, and the upper strings on the accents.

Strike only the lowest note of the chord when a P.M. (palm mute) appears. Play this progression using all downstrokes to add intensity.

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The interplay between the palm-muted notes and the accented chords creates a sound that makes it seem like two instruments playing.

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