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Harmonics...Where are they???

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kynoch, Mar 31, 2009.


  1. kynoch

    kynoch

    Jun 28, 2006
    I have never paid much attention to them but I have started to come across them in my study...and I was wondering where the natural harmonics are on the neck and what notes they are...is there a diagram or a rule that I need to understand....to be able to start to incorporate them into my playing??....any help would be greatly appreciated...thank you.
     
  2. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    I naturally discovered harmonics on my own when I first started playing (23 years ago) and it was a huge part of my playing. I played melodies with harmonics while fretting the base note and it sounded great. Now, the clearest harmonics are in your fifth fret range and the 12th fret range. Those are generally the same note as they are if you fretted them, so 5th fret on G string would be a D. There are other ones all over the neck, but to me, that is where the bread and butter lie...5th, 12th, and sometimes 3rd frets.
     
  3. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Harmonics are a function of the physics of string vibration.

    When you pluck a string, it vibrates in different modes. The
    string moves back and forth as a whole. It also moves as a
    sine wave with a node in the middle. It can vibrate as a double
    sine wave with three nodes. Each node is the area where the
    harmonic can be produced.

    An open bass note, say open E, vibrating in this different
    modes all at once is said to have 'harmonic content'. The
    extent of the higher order content with relationship to the
    primary note produces tonality.

    By plucking at the node, it is possible to emphasize certain
    higher order harmonics by forcing the string to vibrate primarily
    in one mode.

    If you pluck the E while running your first finger down the string
    from the 14th fret towards the nut slowly you will very noticeable
    harmonics appear at the 12th, 7th, 5th and 4th frets right at
    the fret line.

    Plucking the string right at the fret line in these positions and
    then immediately releasing the finger from your left hand off
    the string will give you a strong harmonic sound. This position
    is the same for all open notes.

    More advanced players force harmonics on fretted notes
    by similarly dividing the string length into the appropriate lengths
    and plucking the resultant nodes. Any primary tone and its
    overtones are similarly mathematically related.

    Hope that helps.
     
  4. theres also a really cool/clear one on the 19th- but- ya- its physics. i vaguely recall getting a ruler out years ago to work out the fractions- but i dont think anything became of it- otherwise id probably remember. im sure someone has done that though.
     
  5. iamthebassplayr

    iamthebassplayr Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2008
    Sacramento, CA

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