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Pinch harmonics:How are they performed?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by E.J. T.N.T., Mar 13, 2006.

  1. I've been digging into guitar playing and i wonder how the hell does Zakk Wylde makes those pinch harmonics sound so crazy(even though i'm sure part of that has to do with his pickups overdrive and wah)plus i've seen Billy Sheehan perfoming them and getting similar results and i know Jaco used to do it too.So i would really like to know how pinch harmonics are performed both on guitar and bass
  2. videos and pics higly appreciated
  3. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I'd be happy to walk you through this. How many frets does your bass have?
  4. I am not the thread-starter, but I wanna know too. I have 2 basses - one with 24 and the other, 21

  5. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    Ok, so take your 24 fret bass and play the 12th fret on the G string. Then gently rest your thumb on the 24th fret, not hard enough to depress the string, just lightly touch it with your thumb while you pluck a note, the note should sound an octave higher. That's basically it, you're just halving the distance of the string that's vibrating. Move your left hand up a fret, and move your right thumb until you get a good sound (should be just a little bit past the end of your fret board). Try it up and down the G string, and then experiment with other strings.

    You can also place your thumb at other places to get different harmonics.
  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Are those called "pinch" too? I thought that the 'Zakk pinch' was called such because of how he literally pinches the pick between his fingers to get the effect by brushing his finger across the string immediately after the pick-pluck.

    Shouldn't it be called something else on bass, when it's being done with the thumb and forefinger like that?

  7. spindizzy


    Apr 12, 2004
    I believe that the what is being refered to here is pinch harmonics (the Zach Wild version) is a technique was pioneered on guitar by Ray Buchanan (who in turn taught Jeff Beck and others). It is actually false harmonics and is produced by hitting with your pick and instantly muting the string with the thumb holding your pick. You can reproduce it on a bass using either a pick or some combination of your finger and thumb although it is clearly easiest with a guitar pick.

    What WillBuckingham is describing is a truer form of harmonics and was made popular (perhaps even invented) by Jaco. In his case he was pulling the harmonic based on where he muted the string so Will's note is absolutely correct. Again I think he used a combination of finger and thumb but I have never seen him close enough to know for sure. That's how I have always done it though and it works when I use it.

    Either is fun to play with but you will get more millage out of Will's version than the false harmonics as it will give you melodic options that can't be reproduced as clearly and consistently as with true harmonics.
  8. tkozal


    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    I do the pinch with my thumbnail, and then use my finger behind it. You can get a better sound due to the thumbnail.

    Play some notes on the 12th fret, find the midpoint between the 12th and your bridge (24th fret - if you got one, as above), put your thumbnail there, perpendicular to the string (90 degrees or as much as you can get, get the nail on the string), and then pluck with your finger behind. Move this around and when you find the mid-point, you will hear the false harmonic, your ears will let you know.

    Now try fretting a note on the 10th fret, and move your right hand forward a little. there's another one.

    You will eventually realize you could do like a little feature with these!

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