Octave G harmonic has a pinched sound when played with thumb

Discussion in 'Ask Lynn Seaton' started by Ratatouille, May 25, 2020.

  1. Ratatouille


    May 10, 2017
    Hello Dr. Seaton, I've been transcribing Ron Carter's bassline on the 1964 recording of My Funny Valentine with Miles. I noticed that his octave G sound is really good, not standing out from any other note in the line. However, I have a problem where when I play the octave G, I get a very "pinched" wimpy sound that stands out in the line. How would you suggest overcoming this? When I play the octave with a bow it sounds fine and the same octave on other strings sound good.
  2. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Hello Ratatouille,
    To have the notes sound even throughout the register, the reality is that we often have to do things differently with our pizzicato (and arco) techniques. The higher up the fingerboard one plays, it is necessary to pull a little harder to have the same impact as lower notes. It feels like a crescendo in the right hand as we ascend, but does not sound that way. When we play arco, we have to move the bow faster in the upper register and pluck harder if pizzicato. We have to play harmonics pretty strong to get them to project.
    It is possible that the G string is starting to get old if the harmonics are not speaking. It is possible that a sound post adjustment could also help.
    FYI, I have the title of Professor but do not have a Doctorate degree.
    Below is a live video of Ron playing with Miles in '64. Notice his left hand technique starting about 5:50 in Wayne's solo when you see Ron playing the G harmonic. He is "tapping" his finger down on the G and his right hand is plucking near the end of the board.
    I hope this helps.

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