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pastorius harmonics

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bass., May 1, 2006.

  1. Bass.


    Jan 23, 2006
    San Diego
    I've been trying to get a sound from my amp & guitar that will make my harmonics pop like jaco's ... i've gotten close.. but the F and C and just about anything on the E string just don't pop out like the rest. does anyone know a good eq combo that might work? i have 4 tone controls from my amp (low, low mid, high mid, and high)
    thanks :D
  2. zackattack

    zackattack Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2006
    San Francisco
    I'd be tempted to boost a tiny bit of the high mid, but I'd say the easiest tone to get those jaco style harmonics is to play with the brodge pick up solo'd, and pluck over the bridge pick up.
  3. Bass.


    Jan 23, 2006
    San Diego
    lowering the neck pickup would help right?
    ^ asking because i'm not really sure how to put my bridge on solo, and i still like that mellow growl. like a right in the middle kind of thing you know?
    thanks tho
  4. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Not really an amp question, but you can turn off the bass while you practice the technique, it will help to boost mids.

    Jaco often used an artificial thumb type harmonic. For example in "Birdland" Just use the bridge pickup. Touch your thumb on the string somewhere between the neck and bridge pickup. Pluck the string, hard, between the two pickups with your bird-land finger, at the same time lift your thumb off the string. Timing of lifting your thumb is key, but you'll find it a natural pluck and lift movement. Your thumb does not need to be an octave above the note your playing, your going to force the string to ring on the octave harmonic. Your thumb damps the string enough to keep the fundamental from playing, but the harmonic will ring because you plucked the string hard. You'll soon find it's easy to force the harmonic. If you move your whole hand right towards the bridge you'll find the octave higher harmonic.

    Works really good with piezos.

    After you get it, you can return the bass control to normal and work on the plucking to minimize the thump.

  5. +1! That is pretty much exactly how I do it but I use the nail on my right hand instead of the meat of my finger to get an extra bit of brightness....try it and you will see what I mean...it might be the answer you are looking for.....:D


  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yep - it's all about technique!

    So with harmonics like these - the more accurate you are , the louder they sound!
  7. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    don't pay attention to the frets, either.... harmonics have to do with the physics of the string, and have nothing to do with the temperament of the frets. like... the "third fret" harmonic actually sounds louder and clearer a tiny bit past the third fret (in the direction of the fourth fret).
    mind, it's still very close to the third fret... but it's not exactly over it. it's in the space between the third and fourth. (and there's two or maybe three possible harmonics between the second and third fret.)
    i hope this make sense.... it's easier to show than explain.

    also... some compression will help punch out the harmonics better.
    definitely try a little compression.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I wouldn't bother about compression - Jaco never used it live and you can hear the harmonics ring out loud and clear - but as you say - this is the common mistake most people make : assuming that harmonics are related to frets, whereas it is actually about accurately subdividing the working string length!
  9. thereuar


    Apr 26, 2006
    the mids are very important when you are playing jaco's style. he used rotosounds on his fender jazz with an acoustic rig but his rich mellow style mainly came from his technique.

    really practice regular harmonics and false harmonics and start off with everything flat and with your main attention on the bridge pickup.
    then as you play tweak the mids untill you find the sweetspot for your rig.
    remember the highs might bring out too much of the percussive plucking sound compared to the rich harmonic tone.
    if that works out just try to bring the bass level to a point where it doesnt come off too strong or muddy.

    i allways use parts of portrait of tracy to test out how the amp and bass responds to to harmonics.

    good luck and if you want to check something else out go to ampeg's website and if you download the manual for the SVT-6 pro amp head there is a Jaco preset that you could apply if you understand the hertz values.
    it looks complicated but check out the specs and what each dial does and youll figure it out. i have this amp and it sounds great for harmonics under this preset.
  10. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I agree about Jaco's technique was the reason his harmonics came out so clear, but for us mere mortals, a little compression might not be a bad thing.
  11. Joe Garage

    Joe Garage

    Mar 13, 2005
    I often use to turn down the tone control a bit on my bass to get a sound similar to Jaco’s. It helps to eliminate fret noise, and easier to pluck the harmonics. I’m not sure if Jaco did this himself.
  12. +1 Here as well...I promise you that compression is not the answer! In order to set up a compressor to really work and pick up the harmonic with any real help will be to set the threshold pretty low which will in turn really choke the dynamics and squeeze the heck out of everything else...I also suggest trying to do this with the bass unplugged to work on your technique. Forget about the frets is good advice too...find the harmonics on your particular bass and I promise they won't always be where the fret is exactly....Practice is the only way to get good using harmonics, as in playing in general, there realy are no shortcuts...


  13. This is all wrong! You do have to be at the octave, otherwise you'll get a whinny-sounding (forced) harmonic or a complete different note. And lifting your thumb? damping? You don't have to dampen any fundamental. If the harmonic is well-played, you could leave your thumb there as long as you want.

    It's all about accuracy. No need to force anything. Harmonics sound better with new strings.
  14. Cloggy


    Apr 5, 2006
    If you place your finger at 1/3 the string then theoretically 1/6th is the best place to pluck as this is the antinode to the node you're stopping.and thus max amplitude.
    The other partials will have corresponding antinodes half their string division.
    A 1/7th should work best plucked at 1/14th or 3/14th or any odd number denominator.
  15. Cloggy


    Apr 5, 2006
    Just tried it.
    So much for the theory.
    Or more likely I'm just crap at the execution.
  16. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    IMO steve bailey's harmonic techniques are the best in the business today. and as a huge Jaco fan, it pains me to say that steve's techniques are better than Jaco's.

    try to find a bass extremes DVD and watch "a chick from corea".-

    steve actually touches the string with his index finger and plucks with his middle finger. it seems to be much more accurate than the thumb,index technique, but its also much harder.

    also, harmonics are all about muscle memory, depeding on how and where you touch the string with your thumb,, you will get harmonics of different octaves.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It takes a lot of practice - Jaco was practicing this stuff every day for years...

    The theory is that if you subdivide the effective or "speaking" string length in half, then you get an actave above - subdivide what remains, in half again and you get another octave above.

    Jaco makes use of this fact in his intro to Birdland - so he plays the same phrase(s) twice - firstly an octave up - then he slides his thumb, to further subdivide the string length and get the same thing an octave higher! :)
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I disagree entirely - you can't say one method is better than another - they are just two different approaches!

    I prefer Jaco's as it sounds to me more like bass - whereas the other way has been used for years by many guitarists (like Roy Buchanan) and to me is always associated with guitar playing.

    Jaco's technique was a true innovation and sounds great with a bit of practice and accuracy! :)
  19. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Jaco's technique comes more naturally than steve's technique.
    its also the method that my teacher taught me, and this is what i am using. but, i still think that steve's harmonics are the best in the business.

    granted, Jaco was an innovator and practically pioneered harmonics as we know them, but that doesn't mean that someone like steve can't come along many years later, use a differrent technique and get a better sound.

    I'm not saying Jaco's technique is wrong or bad. i'm just voicing my opinion that steve's gives the better harmonics.

    steve's technique takes a lot of getting used to, and with thick fingers like mine, i am yet to get a clean sound. but when steve does it, the harmonics are the loudest and clearest i have heard.

    Also, i respect the fact that you formulate, backup and stick with your opinions. and i respect that your opinion is different to mine.:)

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