Sliding a harmonic

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ThePaste, Apr 17, 2001.

  1. I've read about this (I think in the DB forum) so could anyone explain what it's all about? I didn't wanna post down there and get reamed a new sphincter.
  2. do you know how to play a harmonic?

    if so play the harmonic, then press down and slide.
    works best with the stong harmonics.
  3. A sliding harmonic is something you can do on a fretless (or DB). There are two ways of creating one (that I know of).

    The more common way is to play a harmonic and then press down on the string where you fingered the harmonic. If you do it smoothly, you should still be hearing the harmonic even though you've fretted that string. Now you can slide up or down on the string and the pitch of the harmonic will change with it.

    The other way is to fret the string and then tap the harmonic with your picking hand. Once again you can then move the fretted finger up or down and the pitch of the harmonic will change with it.

    You can't do this (that I know of) on fretted bass because the frets will eliminate the vibration of the harmonic.
  4. BTW, I good example of a sliding harmonic in a rock song is: EvenFlow by Pearl Jam.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think that generally this is right and while it is easy to slide harmonics on fretless; if you try the same technique on a fretted bass it just won't work in the same way. But you can do this with artifical harmonics and the techniques mentioned in the current thread on this. So if you play an artificial harmonic, by fretting around the 12th fret and then having your thumb rest just above the string at the 24th fret, you can slide your left hand and the harmonic sound will move with it - you can also incorporate extreme bends on the G or C strings which will have similar effects.
  6. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    You can slide a harmonic towards the headstock on a fretted bass.
  7. Every time I try to slide a harmonic on a fretted bass the harmonic disappears and it turns into a standard slide. Maybe it has something to do with my bass setup.:confused:
  8. The setup has a LOT to do with it. The strings must also be in good condition. Play a natural harmonic and fret the note lightly and slide up. If you have a fretless, you can easily do it.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I would say no - this is what I would expect to happen on a fretted bass, whereas with a fretless the harmonic will slide quite easily. Harmonics are pretty easy to get no matter what the setup - you can have the highest action ever and still get harmonics. What tends to affect them more, is the age and type of string. But no matter what setup or strings you have a fretted bass is going to choke a natural harmonic slide - as I said though you can slide an artificial harmonic.
  10. Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear.:) I was talking about an artificial harmonic on a fretted bass. Anytime I slide a harmonic of any sort on a fretted bass, the frets eliminate the harmonic and it turns into a standard slide. This is a gradual effect. If I'm fingering on the twelfth fret and resting my right thumb on the twenty fourth fret in order to create the harmonic, I can slide to the eleventh fret and still retain most of the harmonic. If I slide to the tenth fret, I start to hear the natural note and almost none of the harmonic. Any slide beyond that and the harmonic is gone and it turns into a natural note.

    Can anyone give me a good example of an artificial harmonic slide on a fretted bass that's been recorded? It seems to me that a sliding harmonic (whether natural or artificial) is something that is more synonymous with fretless bass and a lot less effective on fretted.
  11. On a fretted bass(the ones I've played) I could not slide a harmonic other than a pinch harmonic and thats not a complete harmonic. Also you can play behind the nut (on the headstock) and slide up. It works on some basses (not Fenders).
  12. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Actually, I have no problem sliding harmonics on a fretted bass, or on my Fender Jazz.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well as soon as you apply any downward pressure towards the fingerboard, a natural harmonic will be "choked" by the frets and although the sound will continue, it won't be a harmonic as such. Or is this now getting into some kind of macho bragging contest - like, I can do anything! If so I want to hear the evidence!! :rolleyes:
  14. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Actually, for a macho contest, I prefer to belch the alphabet at 50 paces, or perhaps full contact chess.

    And, I didn't say I could slide it very far--usually only a full step, or so. But, yes, if we are talking about the same thing, I can play a natural harmonic, and move it up a few half steps without the integrity of the note being corroded. As far as evidence, I guess I could record an mp3 at some point, or I could have Dave Siff come over and listen--he's seen me do it in the past. He can either chime in with "Yes, he can," or "No, he's full of poop."

    Or, maybe I have magic hands--it's all in the hands, anyway, right?
  15. Yes, he can. And, he's full of poop.[​IMG]
  16. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Um..Thanks, Dave. I think.
  17. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    So, I tried hitting a natural harmonic, putting my finger on the metal fret, then putting a different finger on a lower metal fret and letting go of the fret closest to the pups. I did this on fender p bass elite 2, for those interested. It sounded like the harmonic moved to the lower step. I may be wrong because I'm using headphones right now and I may just have heard the regular note. the thing is, I think it sounds different enough to pass as a movable harmonic on a fretted bass. Let me know if I'm on crack.
  18. Okay!! I've been fiddling with this artificial harmonic slide on a fretted bass thing and this is what I've come up with....;)

    I can actually slide an artificial harmonic a minor third up or down the neck. If I kept at it I could probably go even farther. The key, from what I could tell, is doing the slide in one quick, deliberate motion, almost to the point where it sounds more like a hammer on. The reason I wasn't able to accomplish this before was because I was sliding like I normally would on a fretless: a lot slower motion, accentuating the slide itself. I can see where using an artificial harmonic slide on a fretted bass could be affective, but really what the listener is going to hear is something that sounds more like a harmonic hammer on then a slide...which is still cool!:)
  19. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    I've seen Stu Hamm do it on a fretted.