help me make my harmonics louder!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Nick Gann, Jan 19, 2003.

  1. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    I am learning Portrait of Tracy, and I am having trouble with the volume of the harmonics. What can I do to make them louder? I know that they will be louder if I pluck farther towards the bridge.

    The harmonics on my G and D strings are loud and strong, but the A and E strings are struggling. Could it be a string/eq/amp problem, and not my technique?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. Are you using false Harmonics? if not thats the first step in learning "Portrait of Tracy". If you are using False harmonics then i suggest plucking closer to the bridge, turning up your mid and Highs and messing around to see where to put your finger to get just the right tone.
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    about 90% of the harmonics in Portrait of Tracy are natural harmonics.
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    there are only 4 notes that are false in Portrait of tracy
    1 is the Eb(I think thats the note it is) in the main riff
    the others are the three in the chord at the very very end. everything else is natural.

    to make harmonics louder? I find that upping the mids to like 8 or 9 dropping the Lows to like 4 or 5 and keeping the highs at around 5 or 6 if you have a broader EQ range then go for the high mids and the mid mids. also play with your back pick up and play close to the bridge.

    Portrait of Tracy is a beautiful song, I remember when I was learning it...its still one of my favorite songs to play.

  5. Really? well thats new I thought he used False for most of the notes. Well that makes the song somewhat simpler.
  6. I find that boosting your hi-mids and treble helps a lot with all harmonics. Have you tried that? Just mess around. Good luck with Portrait of Tracy. It took me a while to play it, and I just do it as fun now. :)
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Bright roundwound strings help - that's what Jaco used, along with accuracy - the more accurate you are, the louder the harmonics will be. Slightly off and the harmonic will choke.

    But I have found that some basses are better at producing harmonics than others - in fact this is one of my main tests of basses - so I play the beginning of Portrait of Tracy when trying basses and some are much louder than others - even though I am playing the exact same thing, through the same amp!!

    Generally, the higher the quality of the bass, the better the harmonics ring out - though not always...
  8. Be very, very accurate with your noding hand (left hand for natural harmonics). Move your right hand between the bridge and neck pickups, or just closer to the bridge. Turn up the midrange, and pluck harder on the higher order harmonics than you do on the octave and fifth.

    I also find it useful to abandon the rest stroke when playing harmonics. I play almost all of my harmonics, natural or artificial, with a free stroke. This makes changes in attack feel more natural for me, so it's easy to pluck quite hard on harmonics between the second and fourth frets, and then ease off a bit for natural harmonics and straight fretted notes.

    FYI, the rest stroke (apoyando) is when your plucking finger comes to rest against the next lowest string as a natural consequnce of the plucking motion. The free stroke (tirando) is where the plucking finger strikes one or more strings and swings through the string in an arc.
  9. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    My fodera rings out like a bell :D
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would have expected that to!! ;)
  11. Nice, a Fodera. Did you have to special order it cuz i cant find any in music stores. And what kind do you have. Like a Victor Wooten sig. or something?
  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I have an older Monarch deluxe...I saw older because Mine doesn't have the Pope Preamp, instead mine has the old Fodera Preamp that uses bartolinis, they are both great pre-amps mine just lacks mid control.

    My bass is actually somewhat strange in that it is a Monarch yet it has Blcok inlays(Emperors have block inlays) made of abalony and my preamp is actually an Emperor preamp...but the serial number says M in it so I would think that its a monarch.

    at anyrate its a great bass nonetheless I got it from the now defunct LA bass exchange(rip) in Tarzana California.
  13. any roundwound type of strings would help (DR highbeams, Smith Slap Masters, and Daddario are my string preference and work best). Also, if you have two pickups, the one closest to the neck will make your harmonics muddy sounding/non-existent. Neckthrough basses and I find low string height contributes to good harmonic reproduction, although Jaco used/wrote this on a bolt on Fender Jazz. I've done it on my jazz and it sounded ok, but it sounds 10x better on my Schecter.

    Leave the bridge pickup off, and it will aslo give you better jaco sounds too. It mainly comes from your technique, but I believe it helps to have decent gear.
  14. the last harmonic is tough, I've got the high C string in my way. It sounds great on the jazz, but the rest of the songs sounds better on the schecter! Odd.
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Lift your fretting finger just after you plucked the strings - this makes the harmonic ring out louder.
  16. shon


    Nov 27, 2002
    Healdsburg, CA!!
    Um...Yeah. Basically try to get your fingers right on the frets and lift them off as soon as you pluck the note. Turn off the front pickup and play more towards the one that is on (the back pickup). If you only have one pickup, then try turning the treble and mid up until you get that distinct harmonic sound. Yup. Turn down the lows as much as possible (but not all the way because you don't want a clangy gross sound).

    Hope that was helpful.
  17. Active Basses pick up Harmonics better than Passive Basses do.

    Try adding a hint of distortion to make them scream.
  18. How's it coming along? Any better? Any worse? What tips are you using? (I wish people would update things more often! hehe)
  19. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Thanks everyone for the help!

    I'm still working on it, and it's still giving me troubles :(, but I haven't given up!
  20. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    also, try playing louder.

    Ok, sorry, that was uncalled for. but my harmonics come thru perfectly, but i use ALOT of highs.