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Palm Muting Technique on the Bass (L#72)

Here's an new lesson about right hand technique. I'm sure you've been in a situation before where the bass you're playing might not quite suit the 'vibe' of the song.

You know what I mean... You wish you had a super-modern tone for some songs and a 'James Jamerson' style, vintage tone for others...

Well, I've got a trick up my sleeve!...

Want to know how to get around this 'issue' without breaking open your piggybank? Then watch this new video lesson I've made for you!

Full tab/notation & workbook available to Academy members »

Want the tab and notation for this lesson?
  • Jamie Kyllo

    Regarding your focal dystonia, you should check out Billy McLaughlin, if you haven’t already. He had a good guitar career going and then developed dystonia. He went from playing right-handed to playing left-handed. He pays a tapping style very effectively.
    U. S. public television aired a special program about him this year.

  • Paul

    Thanks Scott… I was trying palm muting unsuccessfully without using the thumb..I’ll give it a try with the thumb but I did cut up a kids water pistol I found I Ibiza and used the foam from that :-)

  • Jerry Shulman

    Scott –

    I love your lessons and especially like the two on “shapes.” Your example was in Em. Can you do something similar for Major, Major7, Dimished, Augmented, etc. Many thanks.


    • scott

      They’re on the way man! S ;)

  • millepat

    Hi Scott, great lesson. This technic need a lot of precision and strength with the thumb
    Is it a real song played by JJ or a play alike?

    I downloaded the backing track, but I can’t see the tab link

    keep rockin’

  • Chris K

    Cool vid and technique Scott, as always! Thanks for the backing track also! Thank you for all you do!

  • Jim Radley

    Isnt this Paul McCartneys method as well? Ive always watched him play and people insist he uses a pick but when I watch him live its clear he’s using his thumb and index finger. I also watched an interview where he specifies he uses acrylic nails on his thumb and index finger. Explains the misconception that he uses a pick though. Ive actually used his method my entire life because I just couldnt get comfortable with a pic. I have become better with the pic in the last 8 years but my early years where using primarily using this technique. Awesome vid!

  • Great tutorial!

  • pablo

    many thanx!!!! thanx for helping us

  • JohnV

    It’s a worthwhile palmutation :). See what I did there? Not as easy as it looks though, especially on a 6 string.

  • All these lessons have been useful, easy to grasp and presented in a way that you understand it by feel rather than by note sequence. Great series.

  • Ben

    I love that …Scott

  • Errol

    I love all the stuff you do. It has help my playing immensely and given me more confident in my playing.
    I have used the palm muting technigue before when I play reggae songs but never with the index finger. Thats neat. New skills to work on.


  • Simon

    Hey Scott, Thank you for taking the time out to publish these lessons, but… Can you turn the bass up please? Particularly on this one I can hear the backing track and your instructions just fine, I can see you playing but I can’t hear it!


    • scott

      Thanks for the heads up Simon! Hey, sometimes the problem is lap-top speakers… they seem to do weird things to bass. If you are watching through a lap top check it out with some headphones as it may sound a little better. have a great day man, Scott.

      • Simon

        Hi Scott, I didn’t know that about laptop speakers, it’s much better with headphones :) I think you could still be a tad louder, but that’s just IMO!
        Cheers chap.

  • JMc

    I’ve been a bit disturbed by this. Decided to try the mute/thumb/index over the last couple of days. Phrasing has always been a huge problem for me. Out of the blue, I was instantly grooving, lovely dead notes everywhere etc. The difference is astounding (to me), straight off the bat.I had an excellent teacher last year who told me my right hand technique was good, though we never touched on my phrasing problems (a hangup for me). I wonder how to get that phrasing across into my usual fingerstyle..anyway ..thanks again Scott, you’re on the xmas list…

  • Robert

    Hello Scott. Great vid as always… Do you usually only play with your thumb and index finger? I have always play with my index and middle finger and only used the thunb for muting the string over what I am playing on.

    Do you think it would be easier to get familiar with the thumb/ index finger setup or keep going with index/middle finger?

    • scott

      Hey Robert, I play with me index and middle fingers as well. I just use the thumb and index technique to get that muted/vintage tone, otherwise I play with a regular technique. Ez man, Scott

  • dot tilde dot

    thanks for just another great lesson, scott.

    i especially like this technique playing the fretless bass, there are these sweet notes that’ll get louder with a little buzz even when they’re muted.

    so i mute them at the beginning and release the muting palm right away, just as i would release a left hand finger when playing a flageolet. (it’s really a sustain monster instrument, love it a lot).

    this way they’ll sound out just as bright and lovely, but with a soft and delicate attack phase.


  • Giorgio

    great as always, i really learn a lot from you then anywhere else…

  • Butch

    Scott: I’m a subscriber and small donor because your lessons nail all aspects of bass playing (especially us beginniners). I’m an older beginner who has seen many of the great contemporary players of our time and the thumb / index player is the style I like. My hands are small so I’ll do the foam thing. Thanks for this post. I’m definitely in the shed on this one.

  • wilson

    nice job man ^^, i am from phil. and i love to watch all your video thanks a lot Godbless

  • Dorsey Davis

    Fantastic stuff Scott! I stumbled onto your videos and can’t believe your skills as both a bass player and a teacher…and I come from a family of teachers. I think you were playing an acoustic electric bass at one point. I’m thinking of buying one. Do you recommend some or do you stay away from product endorsements.
    And either way thanks again for the knowledge.

  • Sebastian

    Hey Scott,

    I got a question, I’m just beginning to learn the palm muting technique – so the problem I got may just solve itself once I progress a bit more, but I’m a bit concerned that it’s more an overall technically problem, so I wanted to ask you what you do – when playing with that particular technique – to avoid the lower strings from roaring in the background when you’re playing on the D and G string – is it a question of placing that fleshy part of the heel of my right hand on them??

    Thanks for the great lesson – I’m soooo looking forward to get that Motown sound and playing all that great stuff James Jamerson and Bob Babbit did ;)