I finally got around to writing a lesson, and I figured it make it on something a lot of people ask me about. If you listen carefully to some songs, you'll notice every now and then, a really loud screeching, squealing sort of sound. If you've ever wondered how to pull that off, then pinch harmonics is your answer. Note that I haven't completely mastered the technique yet, and I'm still working on different ways of producing pinch harmonics, but I'll share some things that I've learned, that have made the process easier for me. Also note, that I'm left handed, and some of the techniques I find easy, may be hard for you, and vice versa.
Before we start off, it'll be essential for you to have some knowledge of harmonics, and you should defintely be able to produce natural harmonics, since that's pretty much a beginner's skill. Pinching falls more under the amateur level of playing. If you have no idea what a natural harmonic is, you can PM or I'm me and I can help you. Moving on, here's what you'll need.
- A Guitar. Humbucks will make things a lot easier, but SC pups will do too.
- An Amplifier .
- Distortion (you can also use amplifier distortion, but make sure you have plenty of gain, so as to make it easier).
- A Pick .
First step is to find a strong natural harmonic somewhere between the fretboard and the bridge. You can start by fretting the 2nd string at the 12th fret (b on standard tuning), picking it, and lightly touching the string at various points with your right-hand index. Once you hear a loud resonating sound, you've found a good point. There are several ways that I've discovered to pull of pinch harmonics. But first we're gonna have to start off slowly, so that you get the basic idea. Holding your pick directly above the point you found the harmonic, pick the string, and then lightly bring the side of your thumb down onto the string. If you hear a shrill sound, pat yourself on the back. You've just produced a harmonic.
Now, you want to do this faster, and in one motion. So these are the different ways (that I know of) of producing pinch harmonics. Remember, there is no 'right' way. You can do it in whatever way you find easiest, as long as you get the sound you want. If you know of any way that I haven't mentioned, please post about it.
- Hold your pick with the thumb protruding slightly from the side, and pick the string, so the pick hits it, and your thumb then hits it immediately afterwards.
- Hold your pick with the index and thumb, and have your middle-finger stick out right behind. Picking the string with an upstroke should produce a pinch harmonic. (I mostly use this method, since I have an unusual way of holding the pick, and I find this convenient).
- Place the side of your palm lightly over the point of harmonic resonance, and then pick the string. Or pick the string, and then lightly bring your palm down.
You should work on those for a while, stick to one that suits you best, or experiment with all of them, and after a bit of practice, you'll get it. For every note that you play, you'll get stronger harmonics in different areas, so its best to memorise where you want to produce a pinch-harmonic in your solos, and use the pickups as a guide-line. For example, you might want to pick right between the two coild on the neck pickup, or right above the first coil of the bridge pickup, whatever. In the end, it all comes down to practice.