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Pinch harmonics

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(@seeeker)
New Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Well I'm new to this forum and this is my first post, so first of all, hello!

General background, I've played about fifteen years of acoustic and the past 6 months or so I've finally transitioned to electric. It feels almost like learning the instrument all over again. I know nothing about gear, the signal chain and all the various pedals and fx that are possible. It's kind of confusing, especially if you're looking for a particular sound already.

Specifically, I'm trying to achieve the pinched harmonic sounds a la Eddie Van Halen. I have a Fender Strat, and a Digidesign RP500 multi fx pedal. There are a couple presets that approximate EVH, but my question is: how much of the pinched harmonic sound comes from the sustain of the effect, v. your own actual learned proficiency with it?

I mean, if you're good enough can you get the long sustain on any effect? Or does it depend on the effect. I know EVH just has his magic touch, so aside from his own unique hand, how much has to do with the specific effect?

Thanks for any guidance,


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(@fleaaaaaa)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 680
 

Are you sure you are talking about pinch harmonics? Can you show us an Eddie bit with what you are trying to acheive? I think you might be talking about extending and sustaining notes using feedback - which is about being loud with distortion, playing the note and being in the right spot for feedback - often a way to do it is just to face your guitar pickups to the amp.

However...... if it is pinch harmonics you want it is about picking with the plecrum but also touching with your thumb and if you move your picking hand up and down the string you will hear different pitches. Is that any good?

together we stand, divided we fall..........


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(@utsymphony)
New Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 2
 

If you are having trouble with sustain it is most likely a technique issue. It is possible to sustain a p.h. without any effects/overdrive at all, just like it is possible to play natural harmonics without these things. Make sure that when you go to pick the harmonic you are not accidentally stopping the note from ringing out by touching the string immediately after the pick attack.


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(@seeeker)
New Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Well first of all thanks for the engaging replies.

I'm pretty sure I'm talking about the pinched harmonics, not the distortion/feedback. Here is an examples of someone teaching the EVH horse sound on Youtube. This is what I'm talking about:

http://youtu.be/06TUFWqI0XM

(He talks for the first couple minutes and actually plays it towards the end of the clip if you want to scroll through). He must have a particular amp or pedal that helps with this long wild sound. But again because of my gap in experience with anything electric, I can't tell if this is a matter of skill/proficiency or mechanical gear: pickup/effects chain/ amp set up.

I actually don't use an amp, so far I have played only through my computer with headphones in order to play along to music, with the Digidesign multi-fx box. Again there are several presets that approximate the EVH brown sound but none with as much "sustain." So if the amp has a significant role in this sound, then that could be an issue.

Thank you for any comments.


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(@seeeker)
New Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

So with the pinch you strike the string, immediately touch it with your thumb, then release? I can't figure out if I need to keep my thumb on the string or release it. I know I should just experiment but I'm not near my guitar right now... Thx


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5367
 

The contact between the thumb and the string should be instantaneous, and released immediately. If you leave your thumb in contact it will simply damp the sound.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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

Listen to ZZ Top...

Geez, matey! Not a little box on the floor!

I'm pretty sure we did a Pinch Harmonics thread on GN quite some time ago. It's all there.

Cat

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


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(@fleaaaaaa)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 680
 

Got a good one for you on this....... cos I used to goof around with this idea when I had a crazy whammy bar guitar (Js100) and Joe does it a lot. An easier way to do the dive bomb screams but not the best because you can't move it around - try getting the harmonics that are around the 3rd fret on the G and the B string and then use your whammy to dive down. Will get you started.

together we stand, divided we fall..........


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

I found this from a post I did in an old thread, apparently it was also a repost. This makes the third time then huh?

Here is what I wrote. Hope its correct.
Here is a reply I had to another post a while ago.

I use pinch harmonics ...... you can get a pinch harmonic on any fret.

Pinch harmonics are produced by holding the pick so just the very tip protrudes through your fingers. When you pic the note the meaty part of your thumb touches the string. There are certain nodes where this will work best. To find them, measure 5 frets from the note you are fretting up towards the bridge. Take this distance and measure it up from the bridge towards the neck. This should be where the sweet spot is. For practical purposes though, once you get the picking technique down, don't measure. You will get used to where you need to do this for certain parts of the neck and going by feel is the best. I was doing this way before I knew about the 5 fret formula and was just getting by on happy accidents.

If you want an example of this type of harmonic listen to ZZ Top. I learned this from a Billy Gibbons lesson in Guitar World some time ago. He said he doesn't measure either but rather goes by feel.

P.S. If you want to be technical, this is like a 24th fret harmonic If you have a 24 fret guitar and measure 5 frets from the nut, take that distance and measure up from the bridge you will be on the 24th fret. This is why the 5 fret formula works.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

I'll add my two pennorth here ( the equivalent of an American's 2c woth....) - as someone who doesn't use a pick, I only recently found out - by accident - how to play pinch harmonics. I broke my index fingernail - the one I use to strum with = so had to file it fairly short. The nail was just barely visible if I turned my palm towards my face....

Only works well with a downstroke though, with my index finger at a fairly flat picking angle....can't seem to get away with it on an upstroke, but that's probably my technique.... and I haven't yet mastered the technique for finding the so-called sweet spot....my picking hand tends to drift a little, I need to practise my control. Jeez - there's always something new! I might just stick to rhythm.....

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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

I found this from a post I did in an old thread, apparently it was also a repost. This makes the third time then huh? Use pinch harmonics ...... you can get a pinch harmonic on any fret.

Good memory, TR...

ZZ Top's pretty blatant...and the best example...so is L/Skynnrd...

Cat

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


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

Specifically, I'm trying to achieve the pinched harmonic sounds a la Eddie Van Halen. I have a Fender Strat, and a Digidesign RP500 multi fx pedal. There are a couple presets that approximate EVH, but my question is: how much of the pinched harmonic sound comes from the sustain of the effect, v. your own actual learned proficiency with it?

I mean, if you're good enough can you get the long sustain on any effect? Or does it depend on the effect. I know EVH just has his magic touch, so aside from his own unique hand, how much has to do with the specific effect?

Thanks for any guidance,

Kid...this is more than upsetting to hear. Of COURSE once you're good enough you'll get the whole enchilada! What'd ya think was next: "Duh...I press duh button?????" The whole POINT of an instrument is the HUMAN interface. You asked for "guidance"...okay, here it is: practice a LOT. You'll get there...

Cheers!

Cat

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


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5367
 

I know EVH just has his magic touch, so aside from his own unique hand, how much has to do with the specific effect?

How much has to do with the effects? - Zero

The effects box will only modify the sound going in, it won't create pinched harmonics on its own.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

A nice humbucking pickup and some gain will certainly augment the pinch harmonic once you strike it, but yes most definitely, it comes from your fingers. Technique I believe is the word. 8)

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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(@dogbite)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 6353

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