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Harmonics=hard

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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Yep...Ricochet's right about that. Same principle but tougher to do. But with this technique you can even bend off the harmonics because it's done with your pick hand...and your fret hand is already holding the string on a fret.

Once you're getting better at it...get your pickup CLOSE to your speaker. Feedback works exceedingly well for this sort of sound.

Geez...LISTEN to ZZ TOP why doncha'???

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@hanging-chord)
Trusted Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 87
 

I checked out the "Harmonic Convergence" lesson here. I found that I'm actually pretty good at the natural harmonics (I can even play the "flute" in "Nights in White Satin", albeit quite slowly). The example that gets me, though, is "Perpetual Change", which has harmonics played in chord-like fashion but with unplayed strings in the middle. Exactly how do you achieve that? I tried positioning my picking hand so that one of the fingers could mute the middle string, but it felt awkward, made it difficult to get the proper strum, and often ended up muting one of the wrong strings. What is the "standard" technique for playing those harmonic chords?


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(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 974
 

I don't know the example, and I'm assuming you're using a pick (otherwise you could just pick the required strings with your fingers and thumb) so how about using some free fingers of your fretting hand to mute the unwanted strings by placing them on the strings a fret or two higher - then strum the lot. Only the strings that are touched at the right place will ring out the harmonics, the others will be damped.


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 Cat
(@cat)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Note for Hanging Chord:

The reason may WELL BE that it's a studio overdub. These effects are COMMONLY done that way!

I made the mistake of doing this all too much on one thing that "went out there" so I had to figure out HOW to reproduce it live.

Pinching the harmonics, however...is pretty much available on all frets...but definitely NOT easy to do!

Once again...LISTEN to ZZ TOP !!!! "The Grange" is a great example.

Practice!!!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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 Ande
(@ande)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 659
 

A thought on learning pinch harmonics that goes against conventional wisdom, but seems to be working for me.

Don't plug in. Due to situations with the neighbors, I often practice my electric without the amp. Annoying when I'm trying to play SONGS, but actually just fine for running scales, exercises and the like. But when I decided that pinch harmonics sound too cool to miss, at first it was really HARD. Because they're soft tones without the amp to make them scream.

But practicing them without the amp, just trying to get the "touch" right, I found that you can actually hear them anyway. And when you get good at playing them so you can hear them without the amp, add the amp and you'll hardly ever miss. I don't know how many hours I've spent; it's hard. But now I can usually hit them, and when I plug in, I can't find the cat anywhere.

The idea, as I understand it, is simple. Two parts: 1) pick with the pick, then touch and pull off with the thumb. www.justinguitar.com has a good lesson on it. 2) learn where. To do this, I simply chose a fretted note on a given string, then worked down, picking and touching, from the neck to the bridge, remembering where it worked.

When you start to know where, try to play stuff with'em. I run a lot of scales- using my ordinary major scale patterns, but trying to play a harmonic on each note, is a workout. Or do the riffs that you do a lot, but all in harmonics...

Best,
ande


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(@ginger)
Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 395
 

I used to have the same problem as you do. What I did was just practice alot. All these responses are very good on here. It's basically what i did. The funny thing is, is that once you learn how to do them, they will seem so easy. But it does take a little prctice to get good. what I did was find a couple of songs, and if i remember what they was, id give them to you but i just can't, anyway, i found me some songs that hand harmonics in them. I would practice trying to do harmonics then practice with the song that had the harmonic in it. I felt like it helped me in two ways first i practiced the harmonic at first then went to playing the song. cause it seemed to speed up my process of learning to make the harmonic quickly without having to stop and think about it. And in no time i was making them all over the place. I can now do running harmonics and i can even do them on an acoustics. But when i first started learning, i couldn't make a harmonic for nothing, but i kept at it and practiced and before long i had it, was still shaky at first but then it just became natural. It's funny how just practicing something over and over will do that to ya!


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(@hanging-chord)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 87
 

I think my problem with pinch harmonics is having to deal with 2 separate, uncontrolled variables: technique and location. I can't tell if I'm not getting a harmonic because my form is poor, or because I'm not picking in the right place. What I think I need is for someone to identify a "known" spot where a pinch harmonic, properly executed, will work. Then I'll know to keep practicing on that one spot until I get the technique down, rather than flailing about looking for a good spot when I may not be doing it right in the first place.


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 Cat
(@cat)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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Note for Hanging Chord!

Third time I'm suggesting this: Listen to ZZ TOP...in point..."The Grange".

Regular snapped harmonics (played over the fret board over 5th, 7th, 12th frets) just "sit there". Harmonics played with your pick hand has 'em (pretty much) no matter what fret you are holding...AND...you can bend them.

With a good technique...you can sail these notes upwards...then, as you turn into your speaker for feedback (okay...I use an old tubed 100w/rms Marshall)...off into the stratosphere. (No sh*t!)

A great effect is to anticipate the next chording and get there just a tad ahead of the band...but not too far ahead...CO-ORDINATED with the bass player...with you on the Root and him up a Fifth from you.

Cat

PS: Practice!

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@blueline)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1705
 

Here's a link to a thread that speaks to pinch harmonics. Harmonics Thread

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@hanging-chord)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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Note for Hanging Chord!

Third time I'm suggesting this: Listen to ZZ TOP...in point..."The Grange".

I'm quite aware of "La Grange" (which is about 100 miles from my house). I haven't responded because I can't learn how to do something just by listening to someone else do it. If I could, I'd just pipe Eric Johnson into my speakers at work.

Regular snapped harmonics (played over the fret board over 5th, 7th, 12th frets) just "sit there". Harmonics played with your pick hand has 'em (pretty much) no matter what fret you are holding...AND...you can bend them.

Well, this is one reason I'd like to learn how to do it :)
With a good technique...you can sail these notes upwards...then, as you turn into your speaker for feedback (okay...I use an old tubed 100w/rms Marshall)...off into the stratosphere. (No sh*t!)

A great effect is to anticipate the next chording and get there just a tad ahead of the band...but not too far ahead...CO-ORDINATED with the bass player...with you on the Root and him up a Fifth from you.

Cat

PS: Practice!

At 2 months raw, I'm not sure I'm ready for a band. One step at a time!

The thing about "practice" (which I think is everyone's mantra around here) is that you do more harm than good if you practice doing something the wrong way. I learned that the hard way playing golf. Until I actually get a successful pinch harmonic under my belt, I won't know what to practice.

Obviously I'm a little frustrated here. I spent over an hour and a half last night doing nothing but trying to get one -- ONE -- single pinch harmonic to work. I was all over the fretboard, and trying multiple techniques (thumb very low on the pick, deliberately touching the string right after the pick, even using my fret hand to damp the string right after picking an open note). Apparently I never combined the right technique with the right location, because I had zero success.
Here's a link to a thread that speaks to pinch harmonics. Harmonics Thread

Interesting, but it's not obvious to me from the discussion what the difference is between "chicken picking" and pinch harmonics, at least as far as how to accomplish each. They "Look" the same, apparently, and I can't visualize the difference between them (pick and hit the string quickly with your thumb to accomplish either, it sounds like). How to effect one and not the other isn't clear to me.


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

I hear what your saying about just listening and knowing how to do it. In chicken pickin or pinch harmonics it's all in your picking hand there's nothing to do with the fret. Try to choke way up on the pick so there is barely anything visible and then pick the string hard so yout humb slightly touches it but doesn't choke the note off you want it to ring out.

I posted the other thread about this. But if you listen to the song Hot Rockin by Judas Priest the first note in the solo at 1:25 is the note at the 9th fret of the G string which is chickin picked and bent at the same time. Listen to the record and you can hear the way the note squeals.

Now just try and duplicate it. Trust me it's not going to happen overnight expecially for a beginner and to be honest and 3 months into playing I personally wouldn't bother with the technique at this time but obviously you're free to do what you want. I just learned that song last week and I'm trying to get the harmonics down myself. You 'll have to turn up the gain and volume to help coax it out.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

Interesting, but it's not obvious to me from the discussion what the difference is between "chicken picking" and pinch harmonics, at least as far as how to accomplish each. They "Look" the same, apparently, and I can't visualize the difference between them (pick and hit the string quickly with your thumb to accomplish either, it sounds like). How to effect one and not the other isn't clear to me.
I thought I'd explained it clearly, but it's hard to explain something when you can't demonstrate it. Chicken picking is a two part pluck. Pluck it with the pick, quickly stop it with the thumb, and immediately pick it again with the thumb. Pick-pick, real quick. With the pinch harmonic, you're picking, then lightly touching the string at a harmonic node to damp unwanted harmonics. No second pick.

As for location, the frets where the "natural" harmonics are are based on exact fractions of the string length. The 12th fret is at the midpoint of the string, with half the string on each side. The seventh fret has a third of the string on one end, two thirds on the other. The fifth fret has 1/4 of the string on one side, 3/4 on the other. For pinch harmonics, the thumb needs to lightly touch the fretted string at the same fractions of the fretted string length. Easiest is to find the exact midpoint, as with the 12th fret harmonic.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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OK Ric now you confused me. When you are doing a pinch harmonic isn't your thumb essentially touching the string where the pick just did?

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

Exactly! Just a light touch. Just for an instant.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@jwmartin)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1437
 

Just to reiterate something cnev said in passing, cranking up the gain will help. Also, you can get different sounds (and sometimes no sound) based on where your pick hand is in relation to the pickups. Move your hand over the bridge pickup, over the neck pickup, slightly behind and in front of each one and try it. Different locations work better or worse on different strings even. The resource that finally got me to "get it" (even though I still can't do it reliably on demand) was the justinguitar lessons.

Bass player for Undercover


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