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Techniques









Harmonics can be quiet and bell-like, as on an acoustic guitar or clean electric, or they can be loud and squealy, as on an overdriven electric guitar.

Natural harmonics

Natural harmonics take a light touch but are easy once you get the hang of it. A good place to begin is the 12th fret of the first string. With your fretting hand, lightly touch the finger against the string directly above the 12th fret. Do not hold it down, just touch it. Then strike it with your picking hand, and immediately release the string with your fretting hand. If executed properly, the result should he a high-pitched, ringing E. It will be the same note as pressing against the fret will produce.

List of Natural Harmonics

  • 12th fret
  • 7th or 19th fret
  • 5th or 24th fret
  • 4th, 9th, or 16th fret
  • Just above the 3rd fret
  • Just below the 3rd fret
  • 2nd fret
  • Just below the 2nd fret


Artificial Harmonics

These are harmomics that you can play fretted. The easiest example of this would be to fret the first fret on the E string, and lightly touch the 13th fret with the index finger of your picking hand. Then pluck the string with you thumb.

You can play some artificial harmonics by using two fingers from your fretting hand. To do this fret a string with you index finger, and lightly touch, with your pinky, the string 5 frets above the one you fretted. Then pick it normally with your right hand.

Another way to play them, though difficult to get the hang of and not widely used, is tapping it. For example, fret the 7th fret A string with your left hand, then lightly tap the metal of the 14th fret with your right hand, quickly lifting your finger off the string. If done correctly, you will hear a ringing note. If done incorrectly, you will probably hear an E produced by the 7th fret. This is a good way to learn because it is quicker and easier to do because of less movement with the right hand, and it can be done anywhere on the fretboard.


Pinch Harmonics

A type of artifical harmonic that is known as the "Squeal" in many songs, and is much higher pitched than the note you are actually fretting. They are performed in many ways, a common way is to have a part of your thumb (picking hand) stick out from the tip of the pick and after you play a note, your thumb should immediately touch the string afterwards. Also to make the job easier you should turn the distortion up to full. At first, it can seem very difficult for some people, but practice makes perfect. If at first you don't succeed, try touching the string with your thumb in a different spot. Anywhere from the end of the fretboard to the bridge will give you a note, but you can get many different notes depending on where your thumb hits. An example of an famous pinched harmonic is at the beginning of the 2nd solo of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb'.

What are Pinch Harmonics?

Pinch harmonics the way is see it is a mix of harmonics and tapping. It uses the same science of the natural harmonic. But with this trick you have more rang of harmonics you can do.

How do I do this wicked trick?

It's simple. play a note. then bring up you right hand and do a harmonic twelve frets higher. It needs to be a quick and accuret attack or else you loss the sharpness of the harmonic. and like normal harmonics. It must be done directly above the fret NOT THE PART WHERE YOUR FINGERS GO. but over the metal wire. where the note resonates when you play it freted.

here's some simple excercises to make you a pinch harmonic Master.

with no pick in hand. bring your right index fingure up to the twelveth fret of the high E string. use you thumb to pluck. then quickly retreat. n if you did it right. You just did a pinch harmonic! now don't fret if you didn't do if perfect. It doesn't need to be a strong harmonic your first time. Just practise.

Now like I said earlyer this one gives a wider rang of harmonics. To milk this technique to it's full potential. what we need to do now is to use both hands.

So now let's pick up the plectrum and play a simple G panetonic scale.


3----6-low E string (6)
3----5-A(5)
3----5-D(4)
3----5-G(3)
3----6-B(2)
3----6-High E(1)


Now when you play that G note on the high E bring your right hand and tapp the harmonic that's now been moved up from when we were playing a open E at the 12th fret up to the 15th fret which is another G. An Octave. And now instead of ringing a high ringing E it's now G. Now play the rest of the scale and play the harmonic that's an octave higher for each note.

Now let's open it up even more :-). You can use other notes besides the octave for harmonics. Now let's simplefy things again. LIke on normal harmonics pinch can be done on several diffrent distances. Try 7,9, 19, and 21 fret diffrence.

That's about it. practic practic practic. And keep rocking


Guitarists/Bands Who Use Artificial Harmonics Frequently

  • Joe Satriani (eg. Surfin' with the Alien)
  • Steve Vai (eg. Rock remake of "The Flintstones" theme)
  • Skid Row (eg. Youth Gone Wild)
  • Dragonforce (eg. Dawn Over A New World)
  • ZZ Top (eg. Tush, La Grange)
  • Zakk Wylde


the best way to practice Natural harmonics is to do it on a linear scale over one string.

so go down the high E string and do harmonics over the easyer one's first. 7 9 and 12 are easy frets to do it. Then go above the 12th and play the 18th and 21st.

And if you can't get it even after reading every articual you can. Find someone that knows how to play them. and Watch. you'll have it in no time.
This page should be merged with Harmonics.

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