Help! Pinch harmonics are hard.
Obvious subject line, I know :D
Just wanted to know if any of you guys had any tips/tricks for someone starting to tackle pinch harmonics? Is it true that higher gain amps/pedals will help? How a bout just a thicker pick?
It is true that using more gain can help bring out artificial harmonics. However, if the technique isn't familiar to you, I'd suggest practicing on an acoustic first. Once you can produce them at volume on an acoustic, you'll almost play them by accident on your electric! As far as where the node points are/where to strike the string, I can tell you that each fretted note has more than one position that will produce the harmonic. In other words, they're all over the place! For example: Fret the 3rd (G) string at the 7th fret, and there are node points at approximately the 12th fret, 14th fret, 16th fret, 20th fret, slightly ahead of the neck pickup, and almost dead center above the bridge pickup. Listen to the guitar solo on La Grange by ZZ Top, you can hear that Billy Gibbons is hitting all of these node points on that fretted note, and you can hear that they all have a different sonic quality. Add some bends while doing this, and you can get all sorts of cool sounds. If you're a visual type, do an image search of "artificial harmonic node points", there are tons of charts available online to use as a resource.
Everyone seems to play artificial harmonics differently. I personally use the tip of my pinky finger to lightly touch the string behind the pick, and that works well for me. Another method is to grip the pick so that just a sliver of it extends past your thumb, and strike the string so as to hit with both your thumb and the pick at the same time. This second method is probably why guys call them pinch harmonics; you wind up slightly pinching the string to do this out of necessity.
I've only been playing for about 12 years, but for me this was one of those huge roadblocks in my playing. I'd say that the only thing more difficult to do well is probably sweep picking.
Thanks for a great reply. Looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me!