If you have been playing guitar for a little while, you’ve probably heard of natural harmonics, those shimmery, ethereal chiming notes that add contrast to a rhythm part, accent notes to a heavy riff, and create screaming divebombs. The following are ten things you should know about harmonics and how they work to add vibrancy and drama to your playing. The definition of harmonics To understand what a harmonic is, we spelautomater pa natet to define two musical terms: the fundamental of a note and the overtones of a note. When you play your open E string, for instance, the fundamental of the note is E.
But you do not only hear the E note. The result is a cluster of vibrations revolving around a fundamental. Damping those clusters with a light touch to the string to isolate the individual overtones results in a harmonic: a clear, pure, ringing tone. Open-string harmonics, also referred to as natural harmonics, are created by placing your finger lightly on a very specific place over the fretwire without pressing down and then striking the string. The easiest places to produce natural harmonics are at the twelfth, seventh, and fifth frets respectively. Every string has a harmonic at these three frets. However, while you can play natural harmonics on every string, you cannot play them at every fret.
Harmonics can be played on both acoustic and electric guitars. On acoustic and classical guitars, harmonics tend to be clean and bell-like, but when played on an electric, particularly if you add some volume and distortion, they can positively scream. Learn all about pinch harmonics here. For every guitar there is a perfect spot that will produce harmonics.
Finding that right spot will take some experimenting. Listen for that louder, clearer harmonic tone. Let your ear guide you to the right place. Harmonics work best on the 12th fret. If you are new to harmonics, a good place to begin working with them is the twelfth fret of the high E string, one of the easiest harmonics to execute, especially on an acoustic guitar. With your fretting hand, lightly touch a finger against the string directly above the twelfth fret, over the fretwire. Don’t apply any pressure to the string or press it down as you would to fret a note.