How To Use “Natural Harmonics”

ACADEMY  /  MODULE #4  /  How To Use Harmonics – Part 1



VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Now let’s take a look at the different possibilities when incorporating natural harmonics into your playing.

1. Stand Alone

The first option is to play natural harmonics as a standalone melody that sounds coherent without necessarily needing anything to accompany it. Often, these standalone melodies are great for intros, a quiet middle section, or the end of a song. Also, it can function as a solo melody when playing a song with two or more guitars in a band. Here is an example:

Stand Alone

As you can see, this melody stands on its own as if it is telling a story. To play this melody I mainly use my index finger for the harmonics on the 5th and 7th fret and my pinky for the harmonics on the 12th fret. I pluck the strings with my index, middle and ring finger.

2. Setting Accents

Also, you can use natural harmonics continuously as an accent, for example within a repeating picking pattern. This can really make the picking pattern much more interesting and grab the listener’s attention. In this next example, we’ll use harmonics at the end of each bar. The accented note creates a more interesting melody overall:

Setting Accents 1

Take a simple progression and using the power chords ‘E’, ‘D’, ‘C’, pick them along with an open ‘G’ string.

Now, play a harmonic at the end of each chord starting with the 12th fret of the B string, pick ‘A’, ‘D’, ‘G’, ‘A’, ‘D’, ‘B’ - it’s a bit of a stretch, I know! Next play the 7th fret harmonic on the ‘G’ string on the D Major chord. When playing the C Major, do exactly the same thing only with the natural harmonic on the 5th fret of the ‘G’ string. Finally, return to ‘D’ major and play the harmonic on the 7th fret of the ‘B’ string. This gives the riff more voice and makes it more interesting for the listener.

You can pick the riff throughout the bars as well if you don’t want to end on the harmonic:

Setting Accents 2

3. Ear Catcher

Your third option for using natural harmonics is to set a certain highlight that catches the immediate attention of the listener. Surprisingly, this can be done by using harmonics in a riff that mainly consists of chords or arpeggios for example. You can see this action with the following exercise:

Ear Catcher 1

So what am I doing here?! I simply playing the arpeggiated chords, E minor, Cadd9 and Dsus2. In the first bar after the E minor, add three harmonics on the 5th fret of the ‘G’ string, 7th fret of the ‘B’ string and 7th fret of the ‘G’ string before going on to play the C and D Major chords. So the harmonics fit in perfectly, but still fall out of the context and therefore catches the attention of the listener. Let’s try a more challenging version of this riff:

Ear Catcher 2

In this version, I’ve added a short run before the harmonics start. So I play the low ‘E’ string followed by a fast hammer-on and pull-off on the 7th fret on the high ‘E’ string picked with the ring finger. Then, I pick the ‘B’ string on the 8th fret and finally the open ‘B’ string before playing the harmonics.



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