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How to play a scale in harmonics?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jason Dude, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Jason Dude

    Jason Dude

    Feb 15, 2005
    I tried finding it myself,spent alot of time and energy but cant do it.Major or minor any key it doesn't matter.plz help
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Fret the scale like usual; put the side of your thumb right at the octave-spot of the note you're fretting; pluck with index or middle finger.


  3. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Just to be sure I understand this. I finger C on the A string with my left hand (3rd fret). Then put my right thumb on the C (one octave higher) on the A string (15th fret)and pluck with a right hand finger?
  4. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    He meants fret the C on the A string, then pluck the A string, with your finger, while your thumb sits on the node. Its called a false harmonic, or pinch harmonic.

    http://www.basslobster.com/lessons/HARMONICS/index.html (click lessons, first lesson is bass harmonics)

    that should explain most of what you need to know. It also tells you what each note is on the fretboard for open harmonics, so you can arrange your scale by note. Notice not every note has a harmonic, like there is no Bb harmonic (on a 4-string)
  5. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yup. Just remember to take the octave-touching finger away as soon as you pluck.

    Whenever I do that (which isn't with the band; just showing-off in off-stage situations), I turn up the 'Sustain' control on my compressor way-too-far, so that if I'm anywhere CLOSE to the harmonic-spot, it rings-out.

    They'll think you're a genius.

  6. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    thank you man, I've been playing aroundw ith harmonics for a bit now but been having some trouble getting my ear around what tone they were exactly, this should help alot.
  7. Getting the notes to ring out can take a little experimentation. In general bridge pickups make harmonics sing. As do new strings and roundwounds.

    Another technique is placing the index finger on the node and plucking/picking underneath. This works very well with a pick between the thumb and middle finger. Guitarists play whole chords an octave higher using this trick.
  8. Harmonics sound so good with new strings.

    I use the index at the octave and pluck with ring or pinky with the hand fairly streched out. Because of the greater distance between the index and ring or pinky than the usual thumb+index, the harmonic sounds fuller, like an open string harmonic.
  9. Jason Dude

    Jason Dude

    Feb 15, 2005
    Can a scale be played in natural rather then false harmonics?
  10. Without ruling out all esoteric possibilities, no. On a 4-string with standard tuning, definitely no, at least among all the natural harmonics that you can get to sound (first 5 or 6 on each string). As you add more strings, there could be some key for which a complete scale forms in the higher harmonics. This would be the "probably more trouble than it's worth" scenario.
  11. There's nothing false about false harmonics. ;)

    You can play a D and G lydian and D myxolydian pretty easily. Not sure why you'd want to play scales though. Learn the nature of harmonics and then you can find them easily. After that, you can also find different ways of doing "false" harmonics than the usual "cut at the octave".

    Before you ask, harmonics are made by "cutting" a string in equal lengths. Without considering octaves, it goes like this:

    1/2 = root
    1/3 = fifth
    1/4 = root
    1/5 = third
    1/6 = root
    1/7 = seventh
    1/8 = root
    1/9 = ninth

    And it continues, but the higher it is, the harder it is to get right.
  12. soontobedead


    Jul 14, 2005
    instead of using my thumb to produce the harmonic, i tap the octave with my right hand fingers. Learning to do this with all 4 fingers combined with fast scale runs will drop jaws guaranteed :p
  13. Agent000


    Jan 23, 2005
    I believe the only full scale that can be done with a standard tuned 4 string is D major scale. I'll tab it out for you.


    the <2.8-4> is not a typo, but a dual node harmonic. basically its just a harmonic at ~2.8, but by adding your pinky or something at ~4 it rings out clearer. basically you are just isolating one more node point.

    PS - obviously you could do any scale with tapped or artificial harmonics, but i don't think that was the question.

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