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natural harmonics

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by qbert00001, Sep 1, 2000.

  1. qbert00001


    May 31, 2000
    ok, maybe i'm just not doing something right or am totally off. can someone set me straight on the PROPER technique for playing a natural harmonic? i've been trying to get it for some time and it escapes me. thanks.


    May 29, 2000
    hooksett NH USA
    Ill Explain this the best I can. Lightly (very lightly) touch the "G" string right above the twelth frett. Now pick or pluck the string like normal. Try above the fith frett.
    If this doesnt work, keep trying. Practice makes perfect.
    Once you've got it, try different spots to see all the other wonderful harmonics your bass has to offer. ;)
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
  4. Sorry if this is overtly obvious, but having taught for many years, I've run into this with students many times. The problem usually comes when the student (player, in this case actually) isn't touching the string EXACTLY over the correct spot (12th fret for instance). If your finger is just a millimeter or two away from the harmonic node, you won't get a good clean sound out of it. Also, as soon as you pluck the string, it's best to get your left hand finger off the string so that it won't dampen the vibration of the harmonic. JMX's post lists the nodal points correctly, but remember some of them are pretty tricky to get at first. Start with the ones at the 12th, 7th, and 5th first, once you get those clean, you can start messing around with the others.
  5. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    This isn't universally true, but some basses produce clearer harmonics if you pluck with your RH closer to the bridge. Experiment with your pickup settings as well, if you have more than one pickup; one of them may be sitting underneath a harmonic node.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Some basses are better at producing harmonics than others and of course, dead strings will make it more difficult, than if you are using new, bright roundwounds. If you have any settings that scoop out the mid to upper range on your amp or any effect, this will also make it harder to hear harmonics.

    I think Gard is right, but the point is that the right position may not correspond directly with the frets, if your bass isn't perfectly intonated. What you are doing with harmonics is dividing the string length and frets are really irrelevant to this exercise, although obviously they are useful reference points.
  7. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    What type of bass are you using? (Your profile doesn't say.) If you have multiple pickups, use only the bridge pickup and play very close to the bridge. Jazz-type basses are perfect for this sound, hence why that Jaco-dude used them. :)

  8. qbert00001


    May 31, 2000
    Well thanks for the response guys. I think this advice has gotten me on the right track. Next step: Jaco! (Not really). Thanks again.

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