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! :)

capoing for harmonics...?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DEFELDUS, Dec 1, 2004.



    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    hey guys, ive been messing around trying to figure out a way to make a capo useful on a bass and i discovered that it also affects harmonics, which i think can be very cool. for instance when i put the capo at first fret and play the harmonic at 6th then i get the same harmonic as open 5th up a half step. i think this could prove very useful in allowing me to use harmonics more thoroughly in all keys. has anyone ever heard of this? have i stumbled onto something big? anyways, im having fun with this and would like some other ideas you guys have as to how i could put a capo to use on bass.
  2. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    It's called an artificial harmonic. You can also hold the fret with your left hand and tap the harmonic with your right. Cliff Burton uses this on his Anesthesia solo and Billy Sheehan does extensive use in his improv solos.
    When you hold down the fret all you are doing is changing the string length. So everything you can do with an open string you can do to a fretted string.
  3. You can also play artificial harmonics by plucking them with your right-hand index while touching the string with your right-hand thumb. A good example of that if Jaco's intro to "Birdland".

    It's kind of tricky to do because you have to find the right spot without the help of the frets, since most of the time you pluck in the pickups area.

    Edit: I suck at explaining things, sorry.
  4. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've been working on this so hard lately! What I found really exciting about this index/thumb method is that you can use a sort of twisting motion between these digits to get a blend between the harmonic and normal note. When I chose the second overtone (octave-plus-fifth in pitch) - and manage to do it right - it sounds like an analog synthesizer.

    ..But as 'Buds was saying - you have to track-along with your thumb to all the right nodal points as you play.

  5. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    I use a capo every night. When we play "Tomorrow Never Knows" I put a capo on my Ric 4001SLH to hold the low drone "C".
  6. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    It's not a new idea. Check out the "Classical Music" thread in the Michael Manring/Steve Lawson forum. There's a pic of Manring with a capo on his broomstick Zon.


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL

    i know they can be used in the classical sense, the purpose of this thread was to explore the more innovative ways of using them.
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I actually mentioned this very use in a topic in Misc. where a new bassist was asking about "bass capos". I've always been into playing harmonics in as many different ways as possible, and it occured to me a while ago that you could use a capo to get artificial harmonics. Unfortunately, the action on my fretless is so low that I get horrific buzzing depending on what position I put the capo in.


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    i was thinking if that problem would occur earlier today. tis a shame, i'd love to do this on fretless as well
  10. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    That sounds more like a mismatch between the neck radius and capo radius.
  11. I've just 'discovered' using a capo;
    I think the better ones are those with lots of tension and a foamy underside; that way it conforms to the radius of the fretboard
  12. BMGecko


    Sep 5, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    Steinberger used to make a tremolo for bass that transposed something like down a 4th and up a 3rd. Something like that would be good for changing the harmonics w/out a capo. I heard a Michael Hedges tune years back (on the Taproot album) where he used a Steinberger with a TransTrem and it sounded lovely.

    But how much music did he make that didn't sound great?
  13. Lateralus_


    Feb 26, 2005
    I don't use a capo. Just distortion and a chorus box after it to squeal those A. harmonics from choice frets. I do have a Pork Products tremolo on the bass but don't apply it much. Keeps in tune well even with old strings.
  14. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Interesting... anyone interested in a group order of bass capos from Shubb perhaps?