James Hetfield Style Palm Muting Blog Image

James Hetfield Style PalM Muting

Today, I'm taking a closer look at Metallica's James Hetfield and his rhythm playing. One aspect of his playing that's often overlooked is his approach to palm muting.

Many of you know that James Hetfield's trademark is his super-aggressive and fast downpicking approach to rhythm guitar.

However, there's more to it than that.

He combines this aggressive picking with his own unique way of palm muting which affects the guitar tone dramatically.

In today's short and fun video lesson, I demonstrate how he gets those chunky, muted power chords often found in Metallica riffs.

Check out the video below:

As I show in the video, there are many Metallica riffs where you can hear this effect. A great example is in the main riff to Enter Sandman.

The power chords at the end of the riff are heavily palm-muted and if you listen carefully, you'll hear how they cut through the mix really well and catch your attention.

James makes his palm-muted notes and power chords short and tight by moving his pick hand away from the bridge ever so slightly.

Once, you realize how he does it, and apply it to your playing, you'll be surprised how simple and effective the technique is.

You can view my other in-depth lesson on heavy metal palm muting here.

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As well as using these shorter notes and chords, he picks each one with as much strength as he possibly can. 

When listening to his guitar playing, you quickly realize that he has incredible right hand stamina and speed.

Learning your favorite Metallica riffs isn't just a fun thing to do.

By learning how to play them, and with consistent practice, you can develop the speed and stamina that James Hatfield has.

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Simon Revill

Simon is a guitar teacher, guitar transcriber, and music producer from the UK. As well as writing lessons on guitar and music technology, he also gives online guitar lessons via Skype.

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