False Harmonics

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 2BitBassPlayer, Aug 7, 2001.

  1. Has anyone ever played around with false harmonics?
    What are they, and how do you play them?
  2. ThePaste

    ThePaste Guest

    Dec 23, 2000
    West Virginia USA
    If I'm not wrong, if you place your right index finger over the 9th fret of a string, then use your left hand and TAP the 4th fret of the same string, that is a false harmonic, or is it an artificial harmonic?

    It's either that or playing a harmonic on the 2nd or 3rd fret (works better with distortion).
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I "play around" with false or artificial harmonics quite a lot and use them in solos. The most famous person to use them extensively was of course Jaco and he didn't use distortion with them very often - all you really need is bridge pickup and bright strings. He demonstrated the technique on his instructional video and I follow his method which feels the easiest to me.

    So you are subdividing the string with your thumb - placing your right hand thumb on the string where you want to subdivide it - e.g. 12 fret above will give you an octave above what you are fretting with your left hand. Then pluck as normal with 1st or 2nd fingers, but making sure that your thumb moves to match what your left hand is doing. So if you want a harmonic an octave above and are fretting the 12th fret, then you have your thumb above 24th fret etc.

    I find it feels very natural and easy to do and with a bit of practice things like the opening to Birdland are very easy to play and this technique becomes second nature, meaning it is easy to fit into improvised solos, whereas natural harmonics require a bit of planning and don't lend themselves to improvisation so readily.