Harmonics

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# Harmonics

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(@bmxdude)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

What are harmonics, how do they sound, and how do you make them(what techqunie do you use).

Now, what's the question?"

(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840

When you strike a note on a guitar, you are not just hearing a single pitch. You are hearing the note that you struck, known as the fundamental and also a whole "rat's tail" of other pitches, all directly related to that one pitch.

Let's take the A string - 110Hz. The first harmonic occurs when there are two "waves" instead of one, which is obviously half way along the string. This produces twice as many waves as the open string and, therefore, doubles the frequency, to 220HZ.
The second harmonic occurs 1/3 of the way along the string - so we get 3 times the frequency of the open string - 330Hz.
The third harmonic occurs 1/4 of the distance along the string - so 440Hz

I think you're probably beginning to see a pattern here - 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, etc........

How do you create a harmonic? Try lightly placing a finger directly over the twelfth fret of the A string. Now pluck the string and immediately after you pluck it, remove the fretting finger. You should get a very pure, bell-like tone - that is the first harmonic (it's not alone, there are 3rd, 5th, etc. harmonics in there, albeit very subdued - you hear only the 1st). You can test that the frequency has doubled by playing the G string at the second fret, which is also one octave up from the A string (an octave being a doubling of frequency).

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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(@pilot)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 180

Harmonics are difficult to play clearly without practice...I'm still working hard at it, because I love the sound, and because it's incredibly cool to tune a guitar using harmonics - my neighbor does it all the time just to irritate me. :)

As far as the sound, look no further than "She Talk to Angels" by the Black Crows. Fun song to play, and actually easier than it sounds...tune the guitar to open E and just strum along until you learn the other parts. :D Anyway, you can clearly hear the acoustic guitar harmonics during the song. There's the small bit of individual note picking during the intro, followed by the familiar strum that basically defines the song, and then....a small pause, and two almost bell-like tones before the strumming starts up again. These are harmonics played on the 4 highest strings, at the 12th and 7th frets respectively as you hear them.

Wow, that was a lot of explaining...hopefully you know the song and understand what I'm talking about. :)

(@mike)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2892

tune a guitar using harmonics

And I thought I was the only one doing that!!!!!!! :(

It's funny because it seams like I get a quicker response from my tuner using harmonics rather than open.

(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840

It's funny because it seams like I get a quicker response from my tuner using harmonics rather than open.

That's possible. When you strike the open string, you're getting all the harmonics in with the fundamental. The tuner has to run that through a fast fourier transformation, to isolate the individual frequencies and determine the fundamental. By playing a harmonic, you're already doing some of the sorting that the FFT normally has to run through.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN

(@bmxdude)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

Will the settings on a amp help with harmonics :?:

Now, what's the question?"

(@bmxdude)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

Oh, and do you push the string all the way down to the fret and pull off quickly like a pulloff, and someone said there were a couple of ways to do it.

Now, what's the question?"

(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840

To get the harmonic, just rest your finger on the string, you don't even have to push it down.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN

(@bmxdude)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

When I do it i get a little fait sound is there any way to make it louder.

Now, what's the question?"

(@srv-fan68)
Eminent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 25

Yes, pull your finger off as soon as the string is struck.

So, rest lightly on string, strike or pluck, remove finger quickly. With practice, this will make it as clear as a bell.

Here's a link to a great article on harmonics.

http://www.acousticguitar.com/lessons/harmonics/1.shtml