Monday, September 26, 2011

Guitar Pinch Harmonics - How To Make Your Guitar Screech

If I had to recommend one guitarist for a student to listen too, when learning guitar and attempting to get to grips with pinch harmonics, I would have to choose Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame.

This Texas style player is an absolute master of the pinch and bend, for a great example, check out the track titled My Heads in Mississippi, from the 1994 album Recycler, some fine examples of this tricky technique are found within this piece.

Pinch harmonics - The Truth

I can't think of a single technique that is harder to get down than pinch harmonics, trust me, even after years of playing you will still fluff one now and then, I know I do.

The real problem with a fluffed pinch harmonic is that there is often no way to disguise it, unlike a dropped note of a miss pick.

So how do we make our guitar screech like a tomcat on the prowl?

Almost every other technique can be built up slowly, not so with pinch harmonics, you either get it right, or you do not get the required sound.

So into the deep end with a little technical of harmonics, and how we use this knowledge to coax that amazing sound from our guitar.

Strings vibrate and create natural harmonics, if you pick an open string, the natural harmonics would sound on the 5th, 7th and 12th frets, try it, play the open string then gently damped the 5th fret with your fingertip, congratulations you just played a natural harmonic.

Now, if we were to fret the E string on the third fret and play the string, the harmonic positions would move up the neck to the 8th, 10th and 15th fret.

Are you with me so far?

You now know how to locate the position of those harmonics just waiting to be unleashed.

Next we move on to actually encouraging them, there are a lot of ways to accomplish this, I do it with an up-pick, and pinch off the string with my index finger after the pick has played the string, think of it as dampening immediately after the pick, by using the finger as it follows the pick.

By performing this right had technique at the correct place on the neck for the current note you are fingering, you will be rewarded by one of the finest sounds known to mankind.

The best way to learn to play pinch harmonics is by accident, learn the theory and then play around with it until you accidentally produce a pinch harmonic.

Once you have done it a single time, it will fall in to place, then begins the long road to being able to produce punch harmonics flawlessly every time, something that is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

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Dave Long is the owner of where he writes articles, creates videos and posts a newsletter about learning guitar

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