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Billy Sheehan Harmonic Tap Thing

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lavmonga, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. lavmonga


    Jul 27, 2007
    New York, NY
    How does he pull this off? I've tried it with some overdrive on (up and down the neck) but I just get the same harmonic note, how can I get it to ascend/descend?

    See 1:32 here :
  2. wizay


    Mar 5, 2008
    He is tapping/slamming the string where the fretwire goes.
  3. He's just holding the note with his left hand, and tapping down the neck with his right. You don't even have to tap anywhere specific.
  4. lavmonga


    Jul 27, 2007
    New York, NY
    I've been trying that, seem to only get one note; the note i'm holding with my left hand.
  5. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    Artificial harmonics... Try tapping your open G string at the 12th fret, you'll get a harmonic. Now try fretting the 1st fret on the G string and tapping at the 13th fret, you'll get what's called an artificial harmonic. When you fret at the 1st fret, the entire natural harmonic spectrum moves up a fret. Same when you fret the 2nd fret, except everything moves up two now. That's the theory behind artificial harmonics.

    ...and no, randomly tapping the string doesn't work, unless the laws of probability are on your side on any given day.
  6. To reproduce what Billy's doing at the points indicated on the 2 videos, yes it does.
  7. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    its a matter of touch. you have to know just how to smack the strings.

    i agree you can pretty much bang the string anywhere for that sound, but i guess its a bit easier if you aim for a "correct" harmonic spot.. but whenever i do it (fairly often) im just kind of going for it, without paying attention to 1/2 string length, 1/4 string length, whatever..
  8. Just remember that billy's harmonic range is a great deal wider than the majority of people being as he has 2 amps fpr 2 outputs...one for bass and one for treble, which gives him such a unique sound, added to the fact it brings him a range of tones most people can't manage from 1 amp. That, and a load of distortion on it seems to help him come a long way with it too!
  9. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    Hmm, I stand half corrected:

    However, he's still using the harmonic series. Unless you have steel strings, a ton of treble, and a ton of gain, good luck.
  10. No, you are 100% corrected. Did you even watch the video you posted? Billy himself says, and I quote, "you hit the string anywhere." I knew exactly what he was doing, not because I saw a video, but because Billy himself showed me how IN PERSON almost 30 years ago.
  11. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    The OP wants to know how he can do it. He can't do it exactly how Billy does it without Billy's setup. He even said so. You're blessed to have met Billy 30 years ago, but not everyone is blessed with his setup. Forest for the trees.
  12. It has nothing to do with set up. My bass will do it without even being plugged in. It's a matter of just holding down a note (any one will do) and tapping down the neck with the other. Yes, the note you're holding will sound, but you will get harmonics as you progress down the neck on almost every fret.
    On further reflection, it helps if you tap directly on the fret wire itself.
  13. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    If you could Youtube it, that'd be great. Maybe I'll learn something new in the coming days. :)
  14. I thought that too, but I have no way to record video. The video you posted is actually a very good description. Fret the note(s) with the left hand, tap down the neck on the frets with the right. Don't fret the notes with your right hand (that would be a hammer-on), just tap until the string contacts the fret.
    It's most effective when you do it on the 'G' string (assuming you're playing a 4 string).
  15. TOOL460002

    TOOL460002 Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Santa Cruz CA
    cool post- thanks- hadnt thought of/tried this before. a blender and distortion pedal really helps- especially as a cheaper/less bulky substitute for a second amp. new strings would help id think- though i have no desire to change mine out for that purpose at the moment- so i cant say for sure.

    dude- that video is awesome- good advice- and enough hair for a dozen people. however- i had to wiki the guy- and am now in the unfortunate position of having to respect a scientologist.
  16. Jerose


    Nov 28, 2005
    Syracuse, NY
    It's actually quite possible to get loud harmonics using that technique and zero compression/treble boost/billy's setup. I'm not set-up to record a video right now, though I can if my explanation doesn't make sense (or people don't believe me? I wouldn't lie about this stuff).

    The easiest way to get a loud sound out if it is to use the inside of the first knuckle of your pointer finger. There's only a thin layer of skin over the bone, so it makes a nice hammer. Fret any fret with your left hand (the lower, the more area you have for weird noises) and use that knuckle part of your right hand to hammer down on the strings very quickly. Don't hold it down for any length of time... you want to rebound off the string the moment you hit it.

    I've attached an audio sample of myself doing said technique. I play a normal note first so you can hear its volume, then I went up and down the neck randomly and even to the bridge at one point (it got real quiet there!). This was recorded with my Fender Jazz (5 month old nickel strings, both pickups blended evenly) > Cafe Walter (THE cleanest/un-EQed natural sounding headphone amp I've ever heard) and into my sound card.

    Give it a try!

    Attached Files:

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