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Unread 05-09-2013, 02:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Palm mute tone

Where does the heavy chug of a palm mute come from? Amp? Pickup? Guitar? All of the above? What kind of frequency range are those tight chugs you hear in metal music?

I ask because I wonder why some amps are better at it than others. I'm guessing it's mostly to do with the amp itself, but wondering if it was also in interacting with other parts of the chain. Now, I'm not exactly a "Djent" person but I do like me a heavy palm mute; alas my Vox Lil Night Train (probably not enough gain) and Vox Valvetronix are leaving me feeling cold. My Vox Amplug Metal does it brilliantly, as did my old Peavey Blazer 158 but my POD 2.0 is even worse than the Valvetronix.

After doing a small cabinet mod for the LNT by adding felt and poly-filling inside I've noticed my palm mutes getting heavier, even with its quite moderate gain level. This made me wonder whether it can be EQ'd back in? Pedals to add gain don't help. I miss the way my Peavey made the floor shake on low volume just because my mutes were so heavy!I tried changing my technique and the position of my mutes for the Valvetronix, but they just don't have that punch.

Any info is appreciated!
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Unread 05-09-2013, 02:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd think once you get the LNT close to where you like, you might try messing with your guitar's settings a bit . Most of the "Chug" happens in the low-mid-range, I'm guessing .
My neighbour's Blazer158 is blasting along with some Deep Purple at this very moment .
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Unread 05-09-2013, 02:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Palm muting is used in way more than just metal, although it is pretty effective in metal!

I can't answer for the gear, but a good palm muting technique is useful and is even part of Atkins style playing. Also, remember Al diMeola's late 70's jazz fusion palm muting proto-shred runs?

It does sound like a lot of what you are hearing is differences in your amps. EQ may help but it may not replace what the speaker cab is doing.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 03:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks! Hmm things to try. I might get an EQ pedal anyway, especially as the LNT doesn't have a mids knob. I did worry that it might have something to do with speakers, but size isn't the issue - my Blazer is 8" and the Amplug is through my headphones!

David, I'm afraid that late 70's Jazz fusion has never crossed my musical radar. With the exception of a bit of Sabbath, my musical savvy comes from the mid 80's and beyond. I do mute in other genres, but the lack of thunk doesn't bother me so much as when I'm really trying to get it there with some heavy stuff.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 03:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Heket, here's the Dimeola....

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Unread 05-09-2013, 06:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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In my mind, a good chug tone has come from a combination of a humbucker pickup, distortion and amp (the actual technique of palm-muting is not that hard, IMO, so I assume you're doing it fine, if even I can do it anyone can). I used to have Fender Strats and was never able to get a good chug tone (although it can be done). Once I got my first SG (Epiphone) getting a good tone was easy, but I still needed the right distortion setting, pedal and amp.

There are plenty of amps that would get you what you're looking for but I can see how a Vox might not do it. Fender, Line6, Marshall, Peavey, Orange, etc. can do it depending on the amp. Try out the amp and if the tone isn't where you want it to be still, then it might be time to throw in a good distortion pedal. It is tempting to go straight for a "metal" pedal but they tend to have too much gain. However, the Metal Muff by Electro-Harmonix is a pretty good one, IMO.

As far as settings, a good place to start would be treble at 6, mid at 0 and bass at 6 and adjust from there to your liking. I say mid at 0 (but you probably won't leave it there) because a lot of modern metal has been influenced by Metallica's famous "scooped mids." Too heavy on the bass will start to sound muddy and too much treble will run you into problems if you're using a pedal. Treble is good for metal leads though.

Cheapest way to get a passable chug tone? Go out and buy a Line6 Spider practice amp and use the "Insane" setting and adjust the knobs to your liking. But a Fender Frontman can do it too with the right pedal. The Fender Mustang series has some awesome metal presets. After that you're probably looking at pricey Marshalls or whatnot, but you don't need to spend a lot of money. I've seen some pretty awesome metal bands play on budget gear.

I'm assuming you already have a SG of some sort since you're on the forums here. You're most of the way there already. SGs are great metal guitars, even though most metal guitarists seem to use a typical looking "metal" guitar (Ibanez, Jackson, etc.)

I'm no expert, but as someone who's had to struggle with this myself, I hope I helped a little (and wasn't too much off-point).
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Unread 05-09-2013, 06:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I should also ask: Which SG do you have? What pickups? What gauge strings do you use?

A stock Epiphone with .10s is all you need really.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 06:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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That's another 4mins 30secs gone, that I can ill afford.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 07:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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That's another 4mins 30secs gone, that I can ill afford.
You lasted longer than i did.
Is it just me, or did that LP look huge on him?
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Unread 05-09-2013, 07:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Miss Heket,

I use palm muting in all my playing in various degrees. Has been an integral part of my playing for decades. When I'm going for that thumping, grinding, driving "chug" like sound it appears that a good amount of overdrive is needed to say the least. With the amp's drive (depending upon the amp of course) I can achieve this. When the amp is lacking, then I must rely upon a good OD pedal to increase the overall gain. Then of course, the palm muting is essential in creating that percussive drive needed for the target tone. Going just short of massive feedback and yet well above simple OD is where that dive exists. There, you'll have to test out many settings until that is found.

It's my understanding that you have a new distortion pedal on the way and perhaps that pedal will add the needed depth to your tone and drive to achieve this thickened drive. The LNT is surely to benefit from the added gain this pedal will introduce to your system. Perhaps when it arrives you'll be able to add it to the signal chain and find the needed push to get that chugging tone you seek.

Good luck with the hunt for the chug!!

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Unread 05-10-2013, 02:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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David:
That was an...interesting video. I'll leave it at that.

Krosis:

SGs kick ass! I don't fancy the 'typical metal' guitars you mentioned. After all, metal was invented on an SG, right? I have the Gibson Special Faded with a high-output ceramic bridge bucker (SD Custom) and the 490R neck, so I don't think the guitar is the issue. Plus I can get good muting tones from a couple of pieces of gear, just not the ones I really want it to!

I always keep my mids balanced, I'm not keen on that hollow sound no matter how heavy it is. On the Valvetronix the palm mutes are there but they are loose, a bit fizzy and lack body. On the LNT I can feel they could be there if only for a little bit more.. what? Gain? But then again the metal muff doesn't help that much. Thing is, I love the tone of these amps otherwise, it's just the muting that's lacking.

Wade:

Thanks, hopefully that new pedal will really set things going! If not I'll use your upcoming amp guide to try and fix my Peavey and just use that when I have a craving for thunk. Today I sat in my conservatory with my AmPlug and chugged away in the afternoon sun.


Actually I have another question not about tone but still relating to palm mutes. Something I've noticed myself doing is not picking the first muted note after a non-muted note and instead just slamming my palm against the strings. For example, a run of 4 E5 power chords with the first unmuted and the rest muted, the 2nd E5 won't be picked at all, just kinda 'hit'. It sounds pretty much the same as a picked mute but a bit more percussive and not as tonal. Is this a technique or a fault? Does it have a name?
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Unread 05-10-2013, 03:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Heket, I believe that technique is called "Dragon Striking Tiger's Nose" in Sil Lum Gung Fu!

Really I've never seen it. In fact I couldn't reproduce that a moment ago with any success. For years I've always used a very gentle pick attack and thus never smacked my strings with a mute that you described. But again, if you like how it sounds and works for you, then it's good right?

So we can give it a name though, how about "Heket's Hammer Mute Bashing" ? Got sort of a ring to it eh?

Wade
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Unread 05-10-2013, 06:15 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Hecket you don't like Al Di Meola
Maybe the legendary John McLaughlin & the Mahavishnu Orchestra might tickle your fancy, he is playing the double neck SG in this video "You Know You Know" magic stuff, get ya weed out or your bottle of good wine, bourbon or whatever puts you in a relaxed frame of mind crank your speakers and drift your cares away

If that doesn't grab you maybe this great band from Oz, Pergamum playing "Classical Metal" might....
Warning no SG content but great guitar playing

Sorry I think I hijacked this Palm Mute thread apologies, I got a bit carried away!
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Unread 05-10-2013, 06:36 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Just to show that "shredding" can have musical content,

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Unread 05-11-2013, 06:30 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
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David:
That was an...interesting video. I'll leave it at that.
I forgot how much I liked that sort of fusion jazz/rock. It's not everyone's taste! It's OK not to like it - but the guy can palm mute!

Aslo thanks for posting John McLaughlin & the Mahavishnu Orchestra, another of my favorites.

Keep on chuggin'.......
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Unread 05-11-2013, 09:54 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I forgot how much I liked that sort of fusion jazz/rock. It's not everyone's taste! It's OK not to like it - but the guy can palm mute!
When I said interesting I didn't necessarily mean it as bad. It's definitely not something I've come across before and I could barely make head nor tail of it. Sort of my reaction when I first tried atonal classical, I feel a bit like a dog who cocks his head whilst trying to make sense of the sounds. Not sure I really like it, but it keeps you on your toes!

I think I'll go and do a bit of Heket Hammer Smashing. Yarr!
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Unread 05-11-2013, 10:39 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Heket, your technique sounds very much like "Slap " technique, which I use in blues fills frequently, slapping the side of my thumb and heel of my palm against the strings . Sort of a borrowed bass technique .
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Unread 05-11-2013, 01:29 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Miss Heket,

After careful research of the Thor's Guitar Store, I believe I've located THE PICK for you. Should come in handy with the Hammer technique you're using now.



It's my understanding that this Pick is Thor's personal favorite and he too uses it for hammer muting style as well!

Wade
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Unread 05-11-2013, 01:44 PM   #19 (permalink)
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That would also improve one's hammer-ons.
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Unread 05-11-2013, 02:19 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Oh my goodness, it's the perfect pick! Don't wanna make Thor angry by stealing his pick though.. clouds are looking pretty dark around here My poor old guitar, she does get some abuse.

Now to complete the theme, now all I need is something like a small wooden hammer on the headstock...
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Unread 05-12-2013, 06:48 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
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When I said interesting I didn't necessarily mean it as bad. It's definitely not something I've come across before and I could barely make head nor tail of it. Sort of my reaction when I first tried atonal classical, I feel a bit like a dog who cocks his head whilst trying to make sense of the sounds. Not sure I really like it, but it keeps you on your toes!

I think I'll go and do a bit of Heket Hammer Smashing. Yarr!
I have some friends who have been a band for about 20 years, and it's
become a standing joke with us that I'm not keen on a lot of their music,
and I use the word "interesting" to describe it.

I'm talking about complicated, jazzy, clever etc..

They quite often say to me, "you won't like this one, it's interesting".

At the moment I'm trying to get to grips with some tracks for their new album, to add some guitar.

I'm completely out of my comfort zone, but thanks to non-linear editing, they can insert or reject parts as they choose.

The result should be "interesting".
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Unread 05-12-2013, 08:50 PM   #22 (permalink)
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From my personal experience, a good "chug" comes from a TOM bridge, a correctly placed palm heel, and the right kind of distortion. Of course a heavy pick and some generous downtuning will always enhance your chug experience.
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Unread 05-12-2013, 09:22 PM   #23 (permalink)
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some generous downtuning will always enhance your chug experience.
This may be a key element....downtuning. Goes back to Sabbath.....
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Unread 05-13-2013, 02:47 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Hmm the only downtuning I really do is drop D. I tried C# standard once for an Iommi song just for giggles and to see how it sounded, but the buzz/rattle with 10s was terrible. Noodles! I thought that maybe when I get more guitars I'll keep one in a low tuning for growling around with.

I finally remembered I have a microcube yesterday and I was pleased to hear that it chugs pretty well. Different amps also prefer different palm positions, which takes some getting used to.
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Unread 05-13-2013, 04:47 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Chug

"Recipe for low volume chug heaven"........................................... .................................... Drop D + Blackstar HT-1 + 1x12 cab or if you have one in the cupboard 4x12 cab add some nice humbuckers mix together with a touch of palm muting, chug awayyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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