Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by beginnerbass, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. beginnerbass


    Apr 22, 2005
    i am brand new to the bass world.
    i had heard strumming a bass like it was a guitar is bad for the pickups. any truth to that?
    i was also told there was a difference between pinch and artifical harmonics. any truth to that one? and what is a touch harmonic? :bassist:
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    OK, I'll take the strumming question: No, it's not true.

  3. As far as I know, pinch harmonics are used on guitar to make squealingly high pitched noises, involving something with the right hand technique "pinching" the string right after plucking it. Artificial harmonics are created by shifting the harmonic nodes by fretting the string. All the open string harmonics move over to compensate and thus are at a different place. Playing them involves fretting, say the 2nd fret, and plucking a harmonic on the 6th fret. This is a new harmonic that is a full tone up equivalent of the open string 4th fret harmonic. Very confusing description, I know. I'm not even certain I'm completely right.
  4. I may be wrong, but I think artificial harmonics cover anything but your natural harmonics that you get just by barely touching the string over a fret when you pick it, like at the 12th fret, 7th fret, 5th, etc. So artificial could be pinched harmonics or tapped or whatever method you use to get a harmonic other than your "natural" ones.
  5. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    No, strumming cannot hurt the pickups, unless you strum through them with a small hatchet. :p

    A Pinch Harmonic is accomplished with a pick and fingers, so unless you've got fingernails of steel. You leave very little of the pick out and you strike the string with the pick and almost immediately with the pad of your finger. That creates the harmonic. You hear it a lot in Billy Gibbons's guitar solos for ZZ Top, if you'd like an example.

    A false harmonic is something completely different. Your fret the string somewhere, then you strike it to play like normal, and then you reach to a harmonic (e.g. 12 frets from the fretted note) with your picking hand while keeping the note fretted and lightly touch it so that the harmonic rings.

    A natural harmonic is really the same thing, only the nut is the fretted note (open string) so your fretting hand is free to touch the harmonic.

    There you go. Now, seriously, the only advice I can give you is that if you don't have someone who can show you these, and you don't have your basic techniques down (interval training, ear training, standard progressions, scales, modes, etc...); I'd stay away from the tricks. That's like trying to do wheelies before learning to pedal a bike, doing backwards jump shots before learning to dribble, or running marathons before learning to walk. It may be done, but not well.

    Good luck, and welcome aboard.
  6. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I don't know what the real "definition" of a false harmonic is, but my understanding of it is pretty well summed up by Jaco's part in birdland. Play an upper range line, and while playing with your right hand use your thumb to split the length of the string (between the fretted note and the bridge) in half, or a quarter or third, etc. This results in extremely high notes (e.g. birldand). Turn the bridge pickup up for the best sound . . .