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How to Palm Mute Reggae Guitar

How to palm mute the reggae guitar, is a technique that must be learnt, in order to master the Palm Muting the guitarreggae guitar adequately.  In this article I will walk you through the steps on how to palm mute the reggae guitar.

What is palm muting?

Palm muting is a technique in which the guitar strings are prevented from ringing out and thus giving a percussive sound.  Palm muting is mainly done to add variety and interest to sometimes what would be a boring track (at least in the case of some reggae songs - smiles).

How did it get started?

Nerlynn (Lynn) Taitt is accredited for the genesis of the palm muting technique in Ska, Reggae and Rocksteady.  Some alleged that Hux Brown played a part in its development as well.  It was the Jazz, Ska, Reggae guitarist and composer Ernest Ranglin though, who popularised the palm muting technique on the reggae guitar with his lighting fast speed.  George Benson identified the technique as Ernest’s signature style.

What is the palm muting technique?

Put simply, the palm muting technique is achieved by placing the picking hand gently and lightly on the bridge of the guitar allowing some of the palm to rest on the strings lightly inside the guitar’s bridge. 

If this muting technique is adhered to and playing commence as normal, then a nice percussive sound should be achieved (See video).

This is how palm muting on the reggae guitar is done.  However, some reggae guitarists mute the guitar strings with the non picking and hand by gently and lightly resting the fingers on the strings.  This string muting technique may be easier to achieve if you are struggling to palm mute.  Care must be taken here not to create any unwanted harmonics.

How is it used in reggae?

The default approach in reggae is called tracking, this is where the lead guitarist plays along with the reggae bass while palm muting.  Some reggae guitarists and producers find this approach too old school and boring so they instead play a different melody.

What guitar string should I mute?

The 6th, 5th and 4th strings are generally preferred for palm muting when playing the reggae guitar, but I sometimes I go as high as the 2nd string (B string) as is evident in the video.  I do this sometimes to get the palm muted sound to cut through the mix.

What pickup should be used?

Any pickup can be used for palm muting.  If you cannot get the sound to cut through the mix, then experiment with the tone.  If you are still finding it hard cutting through the mix, then go for the bridge pickup and fiddle with the tone knob until you get the sound you desire.

What are the palm muting exercises?

Simply do your normal picking exercises at a slow pace, let me repeat, do the exercises very slowly and that should help you develop your palm muting technique. Further, listen to some reggae songs and play along with the bass line, first without muting and then with muting. That’s it enjoy!

If you like palm muting check out the reggae guitar


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