Muting. Playing with high gain

So recently I’ve had a few chances at uni to really turn the Amp up and gain. Normally I’d never do this as I’d get kicked out the house. But at uni and in some gig situations, you can Really crank it up.

My issue is, soloing becomes insanely hard, every little move gets amplified, even just putting your palm on the bridge becomes a semi screeching crunch. And pulling off any solo seems like a magnifying glass Hass been zoomed in on your hand.

In your experience, how have you overcome this? Do you have any tips for getting over that feeling that every move you make comes across as a total noob on guitar dispite near a decade of playing?

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I have tried gating, but I hate the notes getting cut off. It must be just serious muting technique. Yet Marty Freidman for example has very little, yet his guitar is not ringing incessantly. I know Troy made a vid about the main note drowning out the minor vibrations of the guitar, but In my experience… I’m not acually seeing that happen. Perhaps I’m missing something?

I should add one more thing, the guitar is plugged right into the amp, and turned up almost to 10 (not 11) Every little move is right there, and it just seems wrong… I don’t see how anyone can play intricate stuff like this…

I think I need more experience playing on such a loud and high gain setting. But even still, it seems like I’m doing something wrong, as the slightest brush will set a string buzzing loud. And ofcourse with six strings, thats a lot of strings to set off. I’m not a beginner, but in terms of metal type guitar I am, as said I rarely get a chance to turn it up to max levels. I have a hard time believing anyones actually playing like that, Eddy said he did… I don’t believe him, I think I’d recognize the sound of his pick and palm hitting the strings much more if that were true, there must be some tech, or technique I’m missing, or am I wrong?

My experience with a huge amp in the room is limited, but your sound can make a difference. Adding some reverb won’t remove noises, but will help noises sound less “mistakish” if that makes any sense. And beyond a certain level of gain, you really might have no choice but to include some kind of gate. Even a relatively loose gate can make a big difference.

Another thing is to be sure you’re quick with the volume knob when you’re not playing (if you haven’t already developed that habit).

And how is your left hand muting? Not a quick fix, but if its something you’ve been slack about in the past, it’s definitely something that will help in the long run.

Is this a tube amp? If you’re really cranked, you’re adding some degree (maybe a ton) of power amp distortion as well as some speaker distortion. It’s normal to turn the gain down on tube amps as the volume goes up.

I have no experience with this, but a quote from Dee Snider comes to mind:

@WhammyStarScream have you seen this?

I’ve played around with it some myself. I notice I get the best results when fret hand muting is solid, picking is at least a little aggressive (so it’s louder than the background string noise) and note that the natural noise gate only works while you’re picking. So if the run stops and you’re doing a bend or something, you need to quickly cover the other strings because at that point the natural noise gate will stop working since the background noise might be equal in volume to your slowly decaying held out note. I believe Eric Johnson mentions something about this in his instructional video too - the idea that any strings you aren’t playing need to get dampened.

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I actually just posted a similar thread. Dime played with copious amounts of cranked distortion and I have heard interviews with other players like Scott Ian saying they tried playing his rig during soundcheck or something and couldn’t handle it. But I’m m fairly positive most of those classic guitar hero guys are/were playing cranked. And LOUD

I think Troy and the team should do some further investigation into left hand technique. At least with the muting side of things. Because it does truly baffle me how Zakk Wylde or Carlos Santana or MAB or Marty Friedman can pull off what they do without muting. And I have pretty good muting technique with both hands.


I noticed you said cranked volume AND gain. When playing metal, unless you’re Dimebag, more distortion usually isn’t a good thing. I know you said you aren’t a beginner but that you are new to metal, so I apologize if if I’m telling you something here you already know.

Depending on the amp, most of the time diming the gain isn’t a good idea. Most metal setups for rhythm will have the amp gain about midway or even less and a distortion pedal like a tube screamer in front with the gain at minimum and the volume cranked. This is how you get that super heavy chunk but still remain tight and articulate. Pushing the front end of an already distorted amp tightens the bass response. Amp gain alone will generally just turn to mush when you crank it.

So that could be where your noise issue is coming from. Cranked volume plus dimed distortion = lots of usually uncontrollable noise.

Also yes, a noise gate will be essential.

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I second this. When I first went from playing cheap bedroom level amps to joining a band and getting a 150w Mesa Triple Rectifier, I couldn’t believe how little gain I needed when playing at band rehearsal levels. We played metal too. Putting that gain on 10 was a total tone-killer. It took a little getting used to for sure. It ‘feels’ different.

Again, that is dependent on the particular amp you’re using and the signal chain too. Troy mentions in the video I linked a few posts earlier that he leaves his amp’s gain on 10. I don’t know what he’s playing, but it sounds great :slight_smile: much different than what my Mesa sounded like if I cranked the volume and were to have maxed the gain.

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My left hand muting is alright, tho I’d say when I just shread a few patterns, there is not much possibility of muting as the fingers are focused on doing that pattern. I think it may be the case I’ve just got to play with these high levels often.

As I remember distinctly in my first few years of playing, that when you plugged into an Amp, it really felt akward. It felt like everything I practiced unplugged was useless and the guitar just felt weird due to the terrible sound coming out of it.
I’m much more used to playing with amps now and can do most of what I can unplugged. Though this new level of gain n volume is another humbling experience.

I’m not sure, I’m not very knowledgeable about amps atm.

It’s basically this. Not exactly but very similar, it has clean n distortion. Reverb, plate reverb. The basic bass mid trebble, and thats it.

What I have noticed is in using a blackstar Amp, the playing was way tighter and more inline with acoustic playing, tho that Amp has lots of effects on it, and a reason I don’t really use it, I don’t like to many choices on the Amp I just want it to work. But without doubt it feels more controllable than the orange. But the orange Amp sounds gorgeous

I have, though I’ve been experiencing the very slight brushing of other strings still come through, making the sound muddy. But I very well might be mistaken as I’ve just not had the opportunity to get to grips with this level of sound before. When I used the Blackstar Amp instead a lot of the issues went away. I’ve no idea what the Blackstar Amp is, but it’s got loads of options and effects, I would assume its a modeling Amp? I really need to learn more about amps tbh.

I will keep this in mind and try it next time I use it :slight_smile:

From what I’ve seen Zakk mutes with the palm at the bridge and the index finger. This is very similar to what I try to do.

After thinking and playing with this more, it’s more about the “ascending” runs that are noisy than the “desending”.

It may be my palm muting that is not good enough, as I can play fine without noise descending in pitch due to my left hand, but ascending means my left hand is not there to mute.

Go check out some of his Instagram posts. He has lots of playing clips usually with just the guitar centered in the videos, and you can see that his RH posture for lead playing is supinated USX ala gypsy jazz players. He is unmuted when doing this. Obviously he is resting when playing palm muted riffs and stuff. Guys like Marty Friedman that also play unmuted will rest the thumb across the strings while bending. But Zakk doesn’t do that.

I’ve seen his videos, When he does the rakes across the sting he will mute with the palm and index.
Idk how he plays asending runs without noise tho, as there is no muting happing as you lift your fingers off the strings.