Billy Sheehan's techniques.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Stephen Soto, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    can anyone describe how Billy Sheehan does some of the stuff that he does. i know a lot of you have said it's really not that complicated, but how does he do all those pinch harmonics that fast and such?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Place your middle finger on the middle of the last flesh section of the thumb.
    Now there's a groove between the nail of the middle finger and the flesh - place the fingers on the string so that the string rests in there.
    In one motion, tilt the fingers clockwise and move them away from the string.

    I hope you can get something out of this description, it's awkward to describe, but once you get it, it's pretty easy.
  3. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    i don't really get that, could you or someone else explain that again differently. maybe a picture? i don't get it :eyebrow:.
  4. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    there are many ways of doing this technique. the way that works best for me is to rest the side of my thumb (picking hand) lightly on the string, then pluck the string with my middle finger then lift your thumb off quickly. you can get different harmonics depending where you perform this along the length of the string.

    if you use a pick, pluck normally but roll your thumb in such a way that it hits the string immediately after you pick the note.

    dont know if that helps, but it takes a bit of practice to catch on to the concept, after that its really easy.
  5. flea-bass


    Jan 30, 2004
  6. krazy_olie


    May 10, 2004
    Well i have 2 home made techniques for pinch harmonics. 1st being that i rest the thumb on the node point and play then lift the thumb. or for popping type sound ( this is easy to mess up) rest the right hand side (if right handed) on a node point (this can be tricky as its quite a widish area) then sort of pluck the string with my forefinger and thumb.
    I saw billy last night at g3, his tapping techniques were very strange but man are they effective, don't know how it's done though
  7. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    i do the pinch harmonics with my thumb, but i can only get like one good one at a time with that. how does he do them so fast though?
  8. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    ah, thats why he is a bass god...or atleast a minor deity.
  9. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    could you explain this again please, JMX? are you talking about just one pinch harmonic, or many. i just can't understand how he does so many, so fast...?
  10. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    basically all these techniques are leading to one thing. you want to pluck the string, but in the same motion, partially mute it as well to bring out the harmonic.

    i dont know how Mr. Sheehan does it so fast, i havent watched a video of his in forever. i know with a pick you can get them very quickly and accurately.

    with my method, i can get them fairly quickly but not as accurately. however, with loads of practice that could be resolved.

    Back in the late 80's with Sheehan being my bass hero (and still pretty much is) i read a lot of his practice techniques. He practices everything until it is second nature.

    i dont really catch what JMX was saying either. but i have never been good at following instructions. :)
  11. Jazzbassman23


    Apr 20, 2000
    I saw him give a clinic at a Mars a few years ago. There were about 30 people in attandance, and he made me want to quit he was so good. What still stands out to me is not the harmonics he played but how he bent his neck (the bass', not his) to drop/raise the pitch. I'm afraid I'll break mine. He seemed like a really nice guy and answered questions for quite awhile.
  12. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    yeah, that's cool. i watched his 3 videos on of him talking about what he does, but he never got into those harmonics. anyone else have an idea?
  13. Okay, here's what I think JMX was saying:

    Start with your hand in a loose fist, but with your thumb on the top rather than on the side, as it would be if you were hitting someone. Begin to extend your index finger, and let it slide under your thumb. Stop when the side of your finger is touching the pad part of your thumb, near the tip.

    This tilting clockwise business confuses me a bit as well. I think you're doing an upstroke with the tip of your index finger while the side of your thumb rests on the node, thus producing a harmonic.

    Is this correct?
  14. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    no no no.... i can do a pinch harmonic perfectly, a pretty fast speed actually, but they are all like, on a few of his songs (especially "bass solo #2, dowloadable on his website) he does them at lightning speeds? Here is the specific song that has most of what i am talking about:

    Mp3 dowload:

    the example of the pinch harmonics start at about 55 seconds into it.
  15. lowb1970

    lowb1970 Supporting Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Columbia SC
  16. Steven-
    if its what I'm thinking those are not pinch harmonics, those are a tapped harmonics (54-58sec), followed by that that fast harmonic run (at 1min). Basically, hes doing two things; the harmonics at 55 sec are him tapping his rt hand on the frets where the harmonics lie 1 octave above the fretted notes (above the 12th fret) while keeping his lt hand fretting a 3 note chord.He always says in his videos that he gets harmonics everwhere on the fretboard using this technique. Second the harmonics at 1 min is him sliding his right hand over the harmonic nodes on the G string between the 12th fret to over the pickups, while his left hand is rapidly hammering between 3rd and 5th fret G string, then slides it up to 5th and 7th G string etc. Its sounds like a string of harmonics going up and down. I've seen billy about a dozen times and have both his videos, and he explains in the second video that he does two or 3 harmonic techniques, the one i tried to explain above, the other JMX explains about pinch harmonics (like what he uses to double Paul gilbert's guitar parts in Mr Big is done at a slower speed). His 3rd is a tapped harmonic where he taps w/ his first finger above the 12fret any string and frets the traditional nodes above 12th. You can hear that technique in NV and it sounds like a harmonic version of the intro to Van Halens "Mean street.

    I'm pretty sure what your asking about is the first technqiue as i heard exactly the harmonic run you were describing. remember that Billy has a 3 finger plucking technique and he can pluck far faster than any human i've heard, that helps tremendously.
  17. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    wow, thanks for that long reply! the harmonics at 1 minute was what i was talking about. could you explain that a little bit more? harmonic nodes? there some things that i don't understand in that post. thanks a lot!
  18. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    I'm not too familiar with Billy Sheehan, but I saw his bass video and I highly recommend it to anyone. He explains how (and why!) he does a bunch of his little tricks. I really like what he had to say, there's a lot to learn from him besides how he does stuff, but that's there too. He does some blazing solo stuff and then answers questions and talks about stuff and demonstrates things. Cool video.

    I'm almost positive it from Bass Day '97.