how to palm mute a ukulele

How to Palm Mute a Ukulele – Easy Method

Palm muting the ukulele changes the way it sounds. Knowing how to do it gives you the opportunity to diversify your playing style, ultimately making you a better player.

To palm mute, hold the pinky side of your strumming hand against the strings near the bridge. This will dampen the sound of the strings. Create an O shape with your thumb and first finger, then start to pluck the strings with your fingernail.

The level of pressure you apply to the strings will greatly affect how effective your palm muting is. Let’s take a closer look at how to do it the easy way!

How To Do It

For the amount of effort it takes to learn how to palm mute a ukulele, it quickly becomes an invaluable skill for any uke player. Fine-tune this method, and you will be palm muting in just a few minutes.

3 easy steps

palm muting ukulele

Your palm needs to be sitting on the bridge. You will notice as you apply pressure to the bridge, the fat and muscle in your hand will bulge out and spread over the strings. It will be very subtle but enough to start dampening the strings.

It’s important to relax your hand and let it sit on the bridge. This will make plucking the strings much more comfortable.

With your hand on the bridge, start to create an O shape with your thumb and finger. It should naturally become more of a square. The angle of the knuckle on your first finger should be 90°.

Think of the OK sign to get your O shape. Or that game kids played in school where they made the OK sign on their thighs. If you looked at it, you would get a punch on the arm.

Once you have the shape, you are ready to start plucking. Use your thumb to apply pressure to the tip of your first finger. The tip of your thumbnail should be pointing at the corner of your first fingernail.

Putting It Into Practise

Now you know the fundamentals of how to palm mute. Let’s learn some ukulele riffs that use the technique. If you are unfamiliar with ukulele tabs, spend 10 minutes getting to grips with this guide.

Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train

I’m not even sure if the original riff has palm muting, but it seems like a great excuse to learn this awesome song. This is a great riff as it not only allows us to practice palm muting but is also a fantastic finger exercise for sending blood to that pinky.

Assign your first finger to the 2nd fret, ring finger to the 4th, and pinky to the 5th. Only play those frets with the specific fingers. This means we have to move our hands less, which means less work.

Get your strumming hand ready to palm mute the strings. Refer to the 3 steps if you need to and start playing the tab. There’s also an audio clip underneath you can play along to.

A|-----4---5---4---2-------2-------|
E|-2-2---2---2---2---5-4-5---5-4-0-|
C|--------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------|

A|-----4---5---4--------5------7---|
E|-2-2---2---2---2------5------7---|
C|---------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------|

Jimmy Eat World - The Middle

Palm muting is super effective for keeping a steady rhythm. The sound of the notes is sharper and more sudden; you could almost think of them as regimented.

The opening guitar riff from Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” is a perfect example of a palm-muted lick. It’s rather fast too, so it’s great practice for speeding up our playing.

A |---------------------------------|---------------------------------|
E |-2-2-------------------2-2-2-2-2-|-0-0-----------------------------|
C |-----2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-----------|-----1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-|
G |---------------------------------|---------------------------------|

A |---------------------------------|---------------------------------|
E |---------------------------------|---------------------------------|
C |-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2---|
G |---------------------------------|---------------------------------|

A |--------------------------------------------------5-4----|
E |--10------10-9-10-12-9-----9-9-9-9-9-9-10-5-5---------5--|
C |--------9---------------------------------------2--------|
G |-------------------------9-------------------------------|
If you like Jimmy Eat World as much as I do. You might be interested to hear my ukulele arrangement of the Bleed American album. I attempted to play the solo from The Middle so it’s worth checking out.

Is Palm Muting the Same as Chucking?

Although they have a similar damped sound, chucking is a more percussive technique that is usually played while strumming. When we are palm muting, we are often doing it for a significant period in the song, whereas chucking tends to be short bursts to add flavour to a song.

On the topic of chucking, let’s learn how to do it.

How to Chuck a Ukulele

Chucking is actually super simple. The idea is to strum the strings and almost instantly mute them by placing your strumming hand back on the strings.

When we are palm muting, we want the pitch of the notes to ring out. With chucking, it’s different. We want to kill all the pitch and create the actual sound of our fingers hitting the strings.

This video from Dave over at UkuleleGo provides great guidance on how to perform the chuck.

Learning to mute your strings will certainly add flair to your playing. It’s a smart idea to dedicate some practice time to it. Once you get the hang of it, it will become ingrained into your playing and be second nature.

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