Jump to content

Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!



Recommended Posts

I was just wondering how to put harmonics in the right key in a song. I have heard many recordings with them on it and I know how to make them, but how do you put them into a certian key? Or in a certian song? Is there a certian pattern to it? Take Jim Croce and "time in a bottle". OK, at the end of the song, he does some good harmonics with his accoustic guitar. But are they comming from a scale or pattern in the key he is playing in? I am kinda new to harmonics and how to apply them, but they do seem to intrest me. (by the way I know this is getting into theory, but Tedster asked me to post this here as well)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 6
  • Created
  • Last Reply

The most common open harmonics are found at the 5th, 7th and 12th frets. I guess depending on how much you want to stay in key, most will fit in the more common keys; i.e. C, D, E, G, and A along with their relative minor keys.


Here's the interval produced at the different frets:


5th - 2 octaves

7th - 5th (an octave higher)

12th - 1 octave


All of the notes produced are naturals, except for one - 7th fret B string. That note is an F#. I won't go into it, but if you're in either G major or E minor, you can play any of these harmonics, including the one mentioned above. The other keys will be more or less symathetic to harmonics usage.


I think the best way to learn how to use harmonics is to just experiment. You can find all sorts of ways to work them in. Don't forget that you can also create harmonics above a fretted note by using your picking hand, ala Lenny Breau, or by tapping, ala Eddie Van Halen.

Everybody knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact. - Homer Simpson
Link to comment
Share on other sites

play a G chord, then with your right hand index finger lightly touch the E string at the 15th fret while plucking the same string with your right hand ring finger.


you just made a harmonic one octave up, just as if you had played a harmonic at the 12th fret on an open string.


then play the rest of the chord in this fashion: 14th fret on the A string, 12th:D, 12th:G, 15th:B, 15th:E.


you can play scales or whatever with this technique. and if you want to hear the master check out Lenny Breau.


hope that helps in adding to Jedro's suggestions :wave:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Slightly off-topic, but here is the "harmonic pentatonic" scale in Em:


Open D

12har E

Open G

12har A

Open B

12har D

Open e

12har G

7har D

12har B

7har G

12har e

5har G


Also, I believe the technique funkjazz described is called artificial harmonics. These are useful as you can play them in any key.


Another type of harmonics is pinch harmonics. It's hard to explain them without showing you, but, to play these hold the pick as close to the tip as possible so when you pick the note you are almost "pinching" the string. When played in nearly all locations on the fretboard, a Van Halen-like effect is produced.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On a standard-tuned guitar the notes available as harmonics are:

6th string:

E (one octave, or two octaves above)


5th string:

A (one octave, or two octaves above)


4th string:

D (one octave, or two octaves above)


3rd string:

G (one octave, or two octaves above)


2nd string:

B (one octave, or two octaves above)


1st string:

E (one octave, or two octaves above)



These are achieved at the 12th, 5th and 7th frets respectively.


There are other harmonic notes that can be gotten in other places around the fretboard, but those are the "standard" ones. To get different notes, you'll need to be very exact, and they mostly fall in the middle of the frets.


Your other options are the two-handed type that Funkjazz explained, the pinch harmonics that Hippy mentioned, or using alternate/open tunings.



May all your thoughts be random!

- Neil






Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...