Posted: 19 May 2020

Now you’ve mastered scales, chords and you’ve got some hammer-ons and pull-offs happening, let’s look into harmonics.

Harmonics are those little hidden notes. They are chimey, angelic and almost harp-like and when you first hear them you might wonder where on earth they came from. To play harmonics we first need to understand what they are and how they corelate to the fretboard of the guitar.

When you pluck a string, you will hear the natural overtones of that string’s vibration along with the note. We then take our finger and lightly dampen the string at certain places along the fretboard to isolate that notes harmonics. These harmonics are found all over the fretboard, but most noticeably at the 12th, 7th, 5th and 3rd frets.

To get started. Go to the 12th fret and gently put your finger on the B string. Now pick the note, and the moment you’ve picked the note, lift your finger off the B string, practice this a few times and soon you’ll start to hear a really pleasant, bell-like harmonic sound. Once you’ve got the hang of this try it with other strings and eventually at the 9th, 7th, 5th and 3rd frets. You’ll notice it gets a little bit trickier to execute the further up the neck you go.

Overall, harmonics are tricky to get the hang off and you’ll hit a lot of dead notes. If you stick with it and build up the muscle-memory, you’ll find yourself nailing them every single time and they will become a useful trick to add into your writing, recording and performing.

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