Harmonics and Other Technique

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Unchain, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    Ok I have a few questions about some more advance techniques. For one, how can you achieve a good tapped harmonic? I can't seem to do it right. I can play "Portrait of Tracy" just fine, but can't even attempt some Sheehan stuff. Speaking of harmonics, do either of you use pinch harmonics on bass?

    Also, piccolo bass. Which strings are ideal for this? I have been contemplating buying a short-scale bass to be used piccolo, but can I string my bass with piccolo strings? And last off, do you have any advice for building fingering speed and dexterity? Thank you Steve and Michael!

    P.S: Michael, in One Mo' Thing did you use a pick or just your fingers/nails? Also, I think you might know my bass teacher, his name is Randy Harkin...he's older and plays a Modulus 6 and Conklin 7? He took a lesson with you a while back.
  2. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
  3. Widener


    Nov 21, 2004
    Aptos, CA
    I can't answer the questions meant for the two moderators, but I can tell you that you can certainly string your regular scale bass with piccolo strings; you don't need a shorter scale bass for that. Just get piccolo guage strings. I use the D'Addarios.
  4. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks Widener ! I really apreciate it! I may very well have to go get a new nut and some Piccolo strings! :cool:
  5. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    bump for my other questions :smug:
  6. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Tapped harmonics are a little tricky to explain - much easier to demonstrate. There are a few factors that come into play - with any harmonics, the bridge pickup seems to bring them out more than the neck pickup, and newer strings will help too. Making sure you hit the string cleanly exactly one octave above the string you're fretting will maximise the chances of the note coming out too. Also with Billy, he uses a fair amount of overdrive on his sound, which again helps to bring out the harmonics.

    I used pinched harmonics a lot on bass - there are a couple of different methods for this, that use either your thumb or your index finger to stop the string, and then any of your other fingers to pick it. When I get round to making a video/DVD, I'll include a section on how I make it work, but til then, see if you can find some footage of either Steve Bailey, Gary Willis or Doug Wimbish demonstrating their harmonic technique - all three get a great sound.


  7. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks a ton Steve! I really appreciate it!
  8. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Sorry to be slow to respond, Unchain. Steve’s advice on tapped harmonics is right on the money and I’m not sure I can add anything of substance there. As Widener wrote, you don’t need a short scale bass to use piccolo strings. Like him, I use D’Addario EXL 280s. As for “One Mo’ Thing” I used my fingernails for the ersatz pick tone. I’ve always wanted to be able to play with a pick, but have never had the time to master it!
  9. S Lewis

    S Lewis

    May 23, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Something Elegant

    this is a song i did with tapped harmonics...im using a Peavey T-40 with old D' Addarios (45-105). It's a pretty loose recording, but it shows what can be done with the technique

  10. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    When I think of tapped harmonics. I think of wherever I fret as being a new nut. From there, you can count frets or goto the halfway point of that fret to the bridge and subdivide in your head to access all the various harmonic nodes.

    If you look at open string harmonics, you have them all over the place, but only some of them actually ring out relatively in tune. If you hit harmonics on the 6th fret or the 1st fret or the 8th fret, or various subdivisions between frets, you will get a sorta harmonic, but it's usually out of tune and very difficult to get to sound clearly. The same thing applies with tapped harmonics, only, now that you've shortened the string with your finger by fretting, it can actually be even trickier to get to the nodes cleanly an effectively.

    Personally, I don't use tapped harmonics all that much, but studying them vastly improved my understanding of harmonics in general. So I would recommend learning about them as best you can, and really about all harmonics, they are quite fascinating things.
  11. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp