Palm muting is a great ‘ukulele technique that can be used to give a passage a tighter feel. It takes the treble off of a note and makes the tone warmer. You can hear palm muting in action on many of Herb Ohta Jr.’s tunes as well as popular guitar songs like “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” by Van Halen.
Doing a palm mute on the ‘ukulele can restrict your finger movement due to the positioning of the hand. You will have to alter your picking attack a bit to play the same notes while palm muting.
How to palm mute:
- Rest the side of your picking hand on and parallel with the ‘ukulele’s bridge. The inside edge of your hand should rest on the strings just as they go over the saddle.
- Angle your hand towards the headstock a bit.
- Curl your fingers so that you can reach the strings.
Now you can pick and hear a muted note. It’s probably going to be easier to use some of your fingers with the thumb instead of just the thumb. How far onto the strings you move your hand determines the heaviness of the mute. You can mute just lightly for a different tone or make the notes dissipate very quickly by muting with a heavy hand. Don’t move too far or your hand will turn into a moving bridge and make everything sharp (unless this is the effect you are going for, like in Ohta-San’s version of “Little Rock Getaway”).
The reason you hear a muted sound is because the edge of your hand rests on the very end of the vibrating string. The end of the string is where most of the treble frequencies are produced so dampening there slows down the high end.