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Bending a harmonic. Have I stumbled across something?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Cerb, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    I did a seach for bending harmonics and found nothing on it other than bending the neck and pushing down on the string past the nut.

    I was just fiddling around with my bass today while surfing Talkbass, when I hit an octave harmonic on the D. It was unintentional, and I kind of jerked up on the string afterwards (as if I were popping, but with my fretting hand). Since I pulled up at the harmonic, my finger was still in the middle of the stretched scale of the string, and the note continued to ring.

    Does anyone use such a technique for bending harmonics? It's obviously much simpler than pulling back on the neck or pushing past the nut, and would work well in the middle of a quick song.

    The technique wouldn't work with fragile strings, but my Ernie Ball Hybrids seem to take a lot of abuse.
  2. sgt.floyd


    Dec 5, 2004
    I don't know about bending, but sliding them is kinda cool-

    It works best on a fretless, but can be done on frets too- simply hit the harmonic, then press the string down and slide. Sliding up works better than sliding down.

    good luck.
  3. I'm not sure of any recordings with the bent harmonics, but it's absolutely possible. I hit the harmonic, and immediately fret the note and bend. The harmonic continues to ring. Practice it on the G string 5th fret - it rings very well.

    Another cool thing to do with the bent harmonic is to pull-off after the bend. Very Marcus Miller-ish.
  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I've heard Billy Sheehan bend harmonics, but I assume he did it with his infamous neck bending.
  5. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    Beaver Felton does false harmonics then cranks the whammy bar on some of his videos I've seen. He used a Carvin lb90 w/ a kahler trem bridge.
  6. TheBassBetween


    Jun 25, 2005
    I've found two ways to bend a harmonic.

    1) Hit a harmonic, use your left hand to grab the head of your bass and bend towards you
    2) Hit a harmonic, then pull a Stanley Clarke and push down on the string where the string is really tight, between the tuners and the neck.
  7. Victor Wooten does this on the Flecktones track "The Gravity Wheel: Off The Top"... Track 8 on disc one of Little Worlds. His solo is mostly bent harmonics, though I suspect he does the serious bending with a tremolo bar-- I could easily be wrong, though. It sounds great, and it's definitely an interesting technique that will let you play sounds that most people wouldn't recognize, which is always fun... leave the audience wondering how you did that.
  8. i cant wait to sort the action on my bass out and try this, never even contempleted bending or sliding harmonics!
  9. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    It's pretty tough to slide a harmonic on a fretted bass...it works much better on fretless. I think I've been able to slide a harmonic on a fretted up a fret a couple times, but not consistently.
  10. Secondhandloser


    Mar 28, 2005
    Another cool trick is to bend and/or slide pinch harmonis, you get the same sound, but it is a lot easier...
  11. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    It's so cool when we stumble across something like bending harmonics. I know that Billy Sheehan does this quite a bit. He bends them with his left hand as well as by bending the neck. About 11 years ago I had a private bass teacher tell me something that stuck with me. She said, "There's nothing new under the sun." I believe that she is right and wrong. Even though Billy Sheehan does the bending harmonic thing a lot, you can find a unique application for this technique/trick. Congrats on your personal discovery. It's one part of what makes playing an instrument so cool.

  12. a variation on bending the string behind the nut- use hipshot detuners á la Michael Manring.
  13. alot of people said sliding harmonics, u imidiately fret the note after the harmonic and slide. I throught her, if you can fret the note why cant you bend it, hey presto bent harmonic.

    2. Fret the note (immidiately so it still makes the harmonic)
    3. Bend the string

    what was so hard about that?
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    That's just something that requires practice. About the time I learned Portrait of Tracy (late last summer) I got obsessed with finding as many different ways to play harmonics as I could. Once you spend 2 weeks doing almost exclusively that, fretted/fretless becomes (almost) interchangeable in that regard.