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Getting A Higher Volume on Harmonics (right hand technique)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by osciphex, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. osciphex


    Jun 1, 2001
    How do players like Jaco, Wooten and Manring get such great volume whenever they hit a harmonic?

    When I play a harmonic regularly with my fingers, its usually very quiet. The other option is to strike it with the edge of my fingernail. Doing so gives a nice loud harmonic, but it can be awkward and uneven sounding.

    Turning the volume way up can allow me to pluck harmonics regularily. Is this what those legendary players did? Just crank up the volume?
    input anyone?
  2. bill_banwell

    bill_banwell Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2002
    It could be because they have much more sensitive pickups, to pick up the real loud sound of the harmonic, or if you want a louder harmonic sound, only slightly touch the string, not muting it as hard, slightly lift it away as plucking, or if in doubt

    have a go at slapping it. :D
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    A bridge J pickup or parallel humbucker helps bring out the harmonics.

    As Redhot notes, another thing that helps the harmonic to speak is to lift your left-hand finger off of the harmonic node immediately after plucking.

    Lastly, harmonics often sound louder when you pluck close to the bridge. Be a little more assertive with your attack. You don't have to pop the note, but a nice hard rest stroke does the trick.
  4. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    Turn down the volume of the neck pickup. Harmonics are best heard thru the bridge pickup. It's a physic thing, an harmonic is a fraction of the length of a string. To get a sound, your left finger as to rest on a non-vibrating spot of the string, otherwise you just mute your string. At the 12th fret, you split it in 2, at the 24th you split it in 4, etc. So the closer you are from the bridge, the less change you have to be under an harmonic spot.

    I don't know if you can make any sens of all this... but it's the best I can do:)

  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    There are a couple of other things that people haven't mentioned. Firstly - left hand accuracy - so playing just at the right place, the harmonics sound louder - get it slightly wrong and they sound weaker.

    The other thing is that some basses are very good at producing harmonics and some aren't. This is one of the things I test for when buying/trying a bass. Even between exmaples of the same bass - e.g. Fender Jazz - there can be a great difference in how well the harmonics ring out.

    So - this is one of the many reasons why I won't buy a bass without trying it first. So just like some basses have deadspots and others don't - some will produce loud clear harmonics and other won't.

    So there are harmonics that are loud and clear on my Tobias Classic V, that I never even heard on other basses - no matter how I played them.
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    New strings :p

    Another tip is to lift the fretting finger off the string right after you plucked the note - this makes the harmonic ring out louder.
  7. bill_banwell

    bill_banwell Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2002
    ive already said that
  8. All of the things mentioned above are great, my only suggestion would be to hit the strings more near the saddles. For me atleast, it tends to get a louder tone out of the harmonics if you fret them correctly. Good luck with em.
  9. In sum:

    - Put the bridge PUp soloed.

    - Turn the tone in your bass all the way up.

    -PLuck the strings behind the bridge PUp, as close to the saddles as you can.

    - After plucking, lift up your fretting finger.

    - Get new Strings, or clean strings at least. (Roundwounds of course)

    - Boost the trebble and high mids in your amp or graphic Eq.
  10. bill_banwell

    bill_banwell Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2002
    whats the saddles?
  11. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    saddles A.K.A bridge
  12. You can tend to muffle the harmonics the closer you get to the fretboard. but don't forget, the harmonics don't end on the fretboard either, :eek: !?
  13. stingray96191


    Jul 27, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Unofficially Endorsing Ernie Ball Music Man Guitars
    I just got a new tacoma cb-20 and this bass is amazing for harmonics. I can hit harmoncs, everywhere on the neck, and they all ring true and loud. It is amazing.
  14. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    Try not to lift your fretting hand fingers when playing an artificial harmonic though.

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