1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Artificial Harmonic ARGHHH!!!!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by IAMERICCOCHRANE, Jan 19, 2003.

  1. I just dont understand how to play artificial harmonics. I know two ways of doing it but i can only get a barely audible note out of one of the techniques. The technique I can barely play is the one where you put your right hand thumb where your 24th fret should be (that is if you dont have a 24 fret bass. if so you put it a little below it)and press down on the note you want to play to get the harmonic. And the other one is where you use your finger as a capo or something and use it to cover the the fret two frets above the note your trying to play. Can someone explain to me what is the better technique and how i can achieve it. Or give a website that can explain it to me better. Thanks guys.
  2. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Well, no you haven't got it quite right. You don't just put your thumb at the 24th fret. Where you put your thumb depends on what fret your fretting the note at. If you were fretting the 12th fret with your left hand, you would let your right hand thumb touch the string at the 24th fret. The thing is - you have to bisect the string length. So, wherever you're fretting the note, you have to rest your thumb on the string at the point halfway in between the fret and the bridge. That's to give you the harmonic an octave higher than the note your fretting, anyway. So as you move you fret different notes, you have to move your thumb so that it's always bisecting the remaining string length.

    Does that help?
  3. yes, it does. But i still wanna know about how to do it like Jaco Did.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That is how Jaco did it!
  5. I think the "capo" method you mean is the stretching technique Jaco used in "portrait of tracy" to get the D# harmonic- fretting a 2nd fret B on the A string and locating the D# node point using the left hand pinky.

    I think he used that method as opposed to locating the D# node at the other end near the pickups with the right hand thumb as playing the open E string as well as in the piece would be very difficult, if not impossible using the thumb method.

    so the context dictates what method is preferable.
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, I think that is how Jaco did it, like Bruce said. I dunno if he used his thumb to do it - or used his index finger and plucked with another finger or what, but I think that's the basic technique. If you're talking about things like the opening melody from Birdland - what you have to do is slide your thumb up and down the G string just as you slide your left hand fingers to fret the notes. So, as you fret the G @ 12th fret on the G string, your thumb will touch the 24th fret, and for the A it will have to be a bit higher, and for the Bb higher still - etc. So your RH thumb is moving the same way as your fretting finger is.
  7. I read in an interview that he did the Capo method to get the harmonics. atleast he did for "portrait of Tracy".
  8. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    He used the capo method as you call it, for Portrait of tracy, But for Birdland he used the thumb method.

    make sure your EQ is set to right, Artificial harmonics can be difficult to sound loud, but if you EQ it correctly then it will make it a bit easier.
  9. I find the easiest way to get into artificial harmonics is to practice playing natural harmonics with your right hand. Keep your mind on where your hand is in relation to the open string, and strive for consistent ring and volume. Once you feel a little more competent, it's simply a matter of adding the left hand into the picture.

    Personally, I stop the node with my index finger and pluck with the third finger.
  10. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    another thing about Articifical harmonics

    there is usually 3+ ways to play any artificial harmonic....like for example to play the artificial harmonic in Portrait of tracy you can Fret the 2nd fret of the A string and lightly touch the 6th fret( how I do it) Or you can fret the 6th fret and lightly touch the 11th(of the A string) OR you can fret the 7th fret of the E string and lightly touch the 11th fret....there are many different ways to hit these harmonics....experement to find what works best for you.
  11. I finally got some harmonics from the second method you said but its a really big stretch for me, I guess my hands just arent big enough yet or sumthin.
  12. oeyj


    Jan 19, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    You might also want to try the light touch method. Put your finger on the string (lightly) over the 5th, 7th, 12th, and pluck the string with your plucking hand. You can also make it ring sweetly midway between the pickups.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No, no - those are natural harmonics, not artificial harmonics!
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - the definitive source is Jaco's instructional video where he explains and shows you all his techniques.

    Portait of Tracy was a "one-off", which was carefully constructed and even Jaco struggled to play this on the video - but he used the "thumb resting on the string as node for artifical harmonics" method, throughout his career. So it is on Birdland, 3 Views of a Secret (WR version) etc etc.

    The point about getting usable volume on these harmonics is always "accuracy" - so you have to stop the node at exactly the right point or the note will be choked - the closer you are to the exact point - subdividing the strings - the louder will be the harmonic. It also helps to use bright roundwound strings (Jaco always did) and boost the bridge pickup.
  15. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    how old are you? do you think your hands will grow any bigger?

    I have huge hands...and double jointed thumbs...I'm pretty fortunate as a bassist, however my pinky fingers are also double jointed, and that has taken hours and hours of training to keep my pinky useful.

    that said...I use the first method...its almost an identical length of stretching as the second one I listed....but its more aligned with the rest of the song(its in first position as is most of the song)
  16. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I have not seen his video yet...but I have seen him play PoT on another video clip and he used the capo method for the artificial harmonics...but whatever works for you....as bruce said its all about accuracy.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But you missed my point - Jaco did work out some different methods for PoT and I'm not disagreeing with this. But this was a one-off and he didn't use these normally - his preferred method was the thumb/node thing - but he did all sorts of unusual stuff on PoT which he clearly struggles to apply on the video!
  18. Im seventeen, and i dont know if my hands will grow or not. and Unluckily i dont have a double jointed thumb, by the way how would that help? In my last orchestra class my fellow upright bassist had double jointed thumbs too and it was more of a burden to him than it was a help. But, that was double bass so I dont know if it is somehow useful on an electric.
  19. Sorry buddy those are Natural Harmonics, and there are more than just 3 harmonics. Theres one on the 4th fret, 3rd fret and four between the 2nd and 3rd fret. But nice try anyways.
  20. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    The two reasons why having thumbs like mine help(I don't quite have Jaco thumbs.....they are like Half-jaco thumbs) is cause I can dislocate my thumb slightly to allow me to stretch my fingers farther on the fretboard...also in my right hand I can get a better angle to play with by bending my thumb back some....my thumbs aren't that double jointed(not like some people) but they are way more flexible than most of my friends.