Introduction: Pinch Harmonics on an Electric Guitar

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What is a (natural) harmonic?

A natural harmonic is a musical note played by preventing or amplifying vibration of certain overtones of a guitar string.  They are usually played by lightly placing a finger on a string at a nodal point (where the string is divided in ½, ¼, etc.).  When picked,  the string vibrates at a higher frequency than the fundamental tone causing a higher pitched overtone.

What is a pinch harmonic?

A pinch harmonic is a guitar technique in which the player's thumb or index finger on the picking hand slightly catches the string at a nodal point near the pickups after it is picked which cancels the fundamental tone of the string, and lets one of the overtones dominate. The result is a high pitch squeal.

Step 1: Amp or Pedal Settings

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Turn up the gain on your amplifier or use a distortion pedal.  

(Note: The more distortion, the easier it is to play a pinch harmonic.)

Step 2: Holding the Pick

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Hold your pick so only a small piece of it can be seen between your thumb and index finger.

Step 3: Pick a Note

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Fret the 3rd string (g in standard tuning) at the 12th fret. 

Note: Pinch harmonics can be played with any note on any string, but I find they are easiest to play on the g string.

Step 4: Find the Harmonic Points Near the Pick Ups

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Pick the string and lightly touch it with your index finger at various points to find the natural harmonic points over the pick-ups.  Make mental note of the location of these points.

Step 5: Pick Hand Technique

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Pick the string and follow through with a slight roll with your pick hand so that your thumb lightly touches the string at a point we found in the previous step.

Pay Attention!
Make sure to lift your thumb after making contact so the string is not completely muted.

Step 6: Add Some Style

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Add string bends or use a whammy bar after picking to make the pinch harmonic really ring out.

Comments

BlkMgkNitez (author)2015-11-03

Looks like one of my old Epiphone E-Series guitars. *Sniff* Miss that baby.

arcturus136 (author)2015-02-08

Tricky technique to explain, but you did a great job and sweet guitar!

hellmaster993 (author)2013-02-11

nice guitar what type is it . o good instructables

harpe (author)hellmaster9932013-11-06

It's an Epiphone Explorer with EMG pickups

yas4000 (author)2013-11-06

It looks like a dean ml xm

randofo (author)2013-02-08

Cool Instructable. A video or sound recording would be really helpful to people who might not know what this is supposed to sound like.

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