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How to Do Harmonics on the Guitar

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Author: Alen Keenan


Damp specific frets on the fingerboard of your guitar, the bell like sound that it would produce would be called harmonic. These are a must as they could help you create great music effects. Learning guitar and not paying attention to harmonic is not doing justice to music. In other words, strike the guitar string, the sound that is produced is nothing but a combination of different components. When these are taken in synchronization - could be termed as harmonic series.

There are several ways of playing these harmonics on the guitar. Some are explained below -

Open-String Harmonics

Open String Harmonics are also known as the natural harmonics. These open string harmonics could be produced by placing the fingers lightly at certain points on the fingerboard. Ensure that the strings are not pushed down; the finger should be the only thing in touch with the string.

Fretted Harmonics

The fretted harmonics is relatively difficult and hence it needs practice. Doing the fretted harmonics would need consistent practice and time. Being over ambitious and trying to learn it fast can actually harm you to a great extent. There are three things that need to go in synchronization and these are as follows:

1. Fretting of a note.
2. A soft touch is needed on the string. The touch should be 12 frets above a note that is being fretted.
3. Plucking the string is required with the above two.

The fretted harmonics could be achieved by two different methods. Artificial Harmonics and the Pinched Harmonics are the two ways to doing the fretted harmonics.

Artificial Harmonics

As established that there could be other ways of playing harmonics, for fretted harmonics this technique of Artificial Harmonics is much simple to master as compared to the others. This is an easy way to learn the fretted harmonic. It is recommended to go for this one first in order to get motivated and get prepared for the Pinched Harmonics, which is relatively difficult. All the harmonics that could be played are artificial; playing these is termed as Artificial Harmonics. According to this, the index finger's soft touch followed by the pluck with the pinky finger; alternatively the pick held from the other fingers would work.

Pinched Harmonics

This is relatively difficult as compared to the one listed above. Modified picking technique with the accurate and steady picking hand is the pre requisite for playing the Pinched Harmonics consistently.

It being difficult doesn't make it very different from the Artificial Harmonics. It could be understood as playing the Artificial Harmonics, just that for the pinched one we are using a plectrum. Left hand would be used to fret the notes. Go 12 frets above the hand you are fretting with, with the picking hand.

Pick needs to be gripped in such a way that the thumb and the tip are sticking out approximately the same expanse. The thumb should touch the strings briefly while you pick string at the particular points. The note should be played by the pick and the Fundamental sound should be silenced by the thumb, resulting with the required, Pinched Harmonics.

Though this would give you a fair idea about how to play the Artificial Harmonics and the Pinched Harmonics, but until you try your hands on, you would not learn.



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