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Inadvertent harmonics

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by rayjohnd, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. rayjohnd


    Sep 23, 2013
    Hey guys. I've been playing guitar for 30 years and recently picked up the bass as a new challenge for myself and to be able to record my music without a band. I bought an '08 J bass and I absolutely love how it sounds but I'm noticing something when I play that I know will be an issue if I ever try to record. When I pick with my fingers, sometimes I'll make an inadvertent artificial harmonic when I am plucking the strings. It seems to happen whether I'm picking with my thumb near the pu or if I move it up closer to the neck. I've tried to move my hand around and also use a different picking attack angle but it keeps creeping in. Any advice on how to deal with this issue would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Are you hitting the string with your thumb instead of pulling and releasing? Or accidentally touching it after you pluck it?

    Concentrate on plucking cleanly. The location and angle don't matter as much as the release. It's a different motion than how a lot of people use a pick on guitar, where you can sort of smack the pick against the strings, or graze it over them.
  3. rayjohnd


    Sep 23, 2013
    Thanks for the reply, lz. I've been working very hard on my right hand technique. I really don't want to be one of those guitarists that treats the bass just like it's a guitar with 2 less strings. It's a totally unique instrument and I've been trying to treat it as such. I've been watching Scott's bass lessons and doing some intense right hand picking exercises so I can have proper technique and build up my speed. The extra harmonics are happening right when I pluck the string with either my first or second finger. If I'm doing like a basic doo doo doo doo doo type line with alternating finger picks I hear my regular note that is supposed to be there but I also hear a higher pitched harmonic note. It's really strange. I'm going to try to get my hands on another bass and see if there's a chance that it's my J bass, or rather the way I play it. Maybe another bass won't react the same way. It's a 2008 American J bass that has been professionally set up. I'm all ears for suggestions about where to look to determine what is causing this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    It might help to flip the problem on it's head. If you can figure out how to make that harmonic on purpose, it could help you see how you're doing it accidentally. The harmonic could be coming from one of the other strings if you're hitting it on your follow-through.

    I'm sure you'll figure it out with a little time. Sounds like you're approaching things the right way.
  5. I've run into the same thing when fingerpicking.

    You accidentally bump any open string it will resonate and may or may not cause a ghost harmonic.

    I tend to pick resting my thumb on the end of the neck....where I can dead-snub the low E with my palm or whatever if it accidentally starts to rumble.

    At first I was actively conscious of doing this.......but the longer I get into finger picking it seems to come automatically without thinking.......

    An open resonating string can create all sorts of harmonic havoc elsewhere....

    Using a pick I can just start playing right away......but finger picking I need a little bit of warmup time to get the "muscle memory" going.

    I had to continually fool around with hand /finger angles and positions until I found where the finger picking was most efficient.

    It comes easier as time goes by.......
  6. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Yeah, muting is more important with bass, than with guitar-
    the body, bridge, and neck transfer sympathetic vibrations to the unmuted/unplayed strings more, causing them to sound.