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Pinch harmonics with fingers

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Traver, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Traver


    Sep 25, 2007
    I have a hard enough time figuring out how to play pinch harmonics with a pick (maybe someone could help with that as well?), but I prefer playing with fingers, so does anyone know how to do that?
  2. I finger the harmonic with my thumb and pluck behind it.
  3. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    +1. Just lay your thumb lightly at the node and pluck with one of your other fingers. It can be VERY difficult with a dead clean signal, especially one that has trouble picking up natural harmonics. I like to use some dirt and compression, and soloing my bridge J helps a lot.
  4. You can also nod the harmonic with your index and pluck with ring or pinky. I pluck with pinky. Easier and clearer IMO.
  5. santucci218


    Jan 26, 2007
    try both of said ways. some find it faster one way than another...check out Jaco and Steve Bailey.
  6. Traver


    Sep 25, 2007
    Okay, I feel really silly. I have no clue how to do this. I've tried doing what you guys say, but I can't get the squealing going, so there must be something I'm missing.
    Assuming I'm using the "hold-thumb-on-string-and-pick-with-index-finger" technique, is there is any specific spot(s) I have to place my thumb at? Should I remove the thumb afterwards? Do I have to only touch the strings very lightly, like natural harmonics? Does this work with any note? :meh:

    If someone could explain it in-depth, I would really appreciate it, cause I'm lost at the moment.
  7. Foxworthy925

    Foxworthy925 Guest

    Feb 24, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    No specific spots you have to do anything. An easy way to find out where the boring 'ol octave harmonic would be, is to just go to where the 24 fret is (or where it would be if you don't actually have 24 frets) and play the open string but with your thumb lightly touching the spot. Then since you know where that is, you can practice moving it around. As in: now try fretting the first fret with your left hand, and move your right hand an equal distance in the same direction. The structure of your left and right hands will be the same, everything with just be moved up a fret. Just play around with it. You'll find the harmonics eventually.

    No, you do not have to remove your thumb after you pluck the harmonic. You can, but you don't HAVE to. It'll probably change how it sounds or behaves a bit, so play around with it.

    Yeah, you'd probably want to touch the string pretty lightly. It's just the same as natural harmonics.

    Yes, it works with any note. I could probably post up a little vid of just what I do (if you want) so you could get an idea.
  8. Traver


    Sep 25, 2007
    Thanks for the reply, Fox.
    I'm a bit confused though. First you said there weren't any specific spots, but then you started talking about finding the harmonics? I know where the harmonics are, but I was under the impression that pinch harmonics could be done anywhere, and that you could place your thumb anywhere to do it?
    Oh, and a video would be really really nice if it included some kind of explaining audio as well. I watched some videos of people doing pinch harmonics to try and get the hang of it, but since none of them had any real information on what they were actually doing, I learned very little from them.
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Hi Traver, you absolutely need to place your thumb (or finger) in a specific spot for the harmonic to sound. I think what Foxworthy means (and if I'm wrong, my apologies) is that there is more than one spot that will sound a harmonic. Start off by finding all of the harmonics of the open string. Now, fret that string at the 1st fret. All of the harmonics shift up by one fret. If you fret at the 2nd fret, they are all shifted by two frets. Just a random example, if you play the 24th fret harmonic of the open G string (which is a high G), now fret the C at the 5th fret, you can now play a high C pinch harmonic where your 29th fret would be (24 + 5 = 29). Does that make any sense?

    Here's a tip: the closer you "pinch" to the bridge, the closer together the harmonics are. So if you just want a high-pitched sound of some sort, and don't care exactly what pitch it is, pinch close to the bridge and you'll probably hit some sort of random harmonic most of the time.
  10. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Steve Bailey has said seven frets above the note. Using what the technique Erick described, you can fret with your left hand, go seven above and touch with your right index and pluck with anything else.

    My favorite way of PH is tapping four above. As in Twist of Cain (Danzig) the Eb is on the sixth fret and tap the note by hitting the 10th fret with your finger. To help with this, practice the PH ending to Anaesthesia (Cliff Burton).
  11. Foxworthy925

    Foxworthy925 Guest

    Feb 24, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    Yeah man, I wasn't very clear with my explanation. I'll just clear everything up with a vid a bit later tonight. It'll probably be in an hour or two though, as I need to do a lab right-up for chem and am a bit busy atm.
  12. It also helps to have fresh roundwound strings (the brighter the better), and grow your nails out a bit
  13. Foxworthy925

    Foxworthy925 Guest

    Feb 24, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    Wow, this evening was not a good one. All my time was taken up by hw, but tomorrow for sure I'll post up a vid.
  14. Foxworthy925

    Foxworthy925 Guest

    Feb 24, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    Ok, so I got that vid like I promised. Just a few things though:
    - I know I speak very slowly and sound retarded. It's just the way I speak. Believe it or not I'm actually a good student. In the vid, my voice sounds hella weak and crackly too- it's a bit out of it right now
    - I thought I was going to do this extremely helpful vid, but I ended up wasting a lot of time and not being very productive. Nothing came out right, and I apologize.
    - I don't mean copy spankypants, but you'll have to take my word that I'm not usually so horrible at bass - I'd just gotten home from school and hadn't warmed up at all, and I know I'm not very good at pinch harmonics.
    - Tell me if anyone can't watch the vid, because I didn't convert it into mpeg first, so I don't know if it's in a format that everyone can see.
    - I split it up into 8 little vids so they would upload easier. Just watch 'em in order...









    Hope it helps:D
  15. Traver


    Sep 25, 2007
    Great, thanks a lot for the effort!

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