So,I started learning them 4 months ago,and I've seen so many videos and tried everything and when i look,my pick placement and angle,and my fingers are exactly the same as in the video but I can't get them down.Sometimes I can do them,but very unclean....any tips and tricks?
Well, pinch harmonics- just like any other type of harmonics- will only work at certain points along the string. Just because you're beyond the fretboard, doesn't mean you're beyond the rules

So you could try playing with your picking position for different harmonics.

Also, you should be catching the string with your thumb, but not keeping your thumb on the string- as you can accidentally mute the note you want to sound.

Distortion is a key factor, too. Some distortion will make things easier, but too much can obscure the sound of the harmonic. Playing pinch harmonics with a clean tone is very difficult (but it can be done). How is your tone set when you practise?

If your thumb is digging in to the string too deeply, this can be a problem, too.
I think its just really hard to hit the right spot on the string the right way. I do them a little but I cant do alot with it.
I have my distortion all the way up,i play mostly Periphery/Motionless in White/Asking Alexandria/Of Mice and Men stuff.And in those songs and bands,you need pinch harmonics.But when i do them they don't really sound.My thumb is just slightly touching it,like in the videos the guys say,but i can't seem to do em.Even if i do them,they don't sound..uhm..."full" They are just half the normal sound and half pinch harmonic. it's 50/50 not full 100% pinch harmonic.
Quote by chainsawguitar
Well, pinch harmonics- just like any other type of harmonics- will only work at certain points along the string. Just because you're beyond the fretboard, doesn't mean you're beyond the rules

+1 Nicely said. Wisdom AND a laugh!

It has a LOT to do with timing and finese in your touch - Just like when you first learned to do 5, 7th, 12th fret "touch" harmonics.

The concept is exactly the same except these are harder because:
1) You are trying to pick the string and "touch" with the same hand
2) The "magic spots" aren't nicely labeled for you with dots
3) The "magic spots" aren't fixed...they move depending on what note your left hand is fretting (because you are "creating different string lengths" and hence moving the mathematical harmonic positions)

Keep in mind how hard you pick also has an impact. Too soft and you won't get enough volume for them to really ring out. I tend to pick them quite hard and aggressively.
Billy Gibons (who is famous for them) actually uses an old Mexican Peso as his pick to get an even more aggressive attack and make them really scream.

I find the "easiest" way to learn them is: One at a time.
(and without music nor metronome, just focus on technique and timing)
1) Choose you favorite note you want to play pinch harmonics on frequently in compositions (e.g. A)
2) Fret it
3) Slowly practice pickin n' pinchin' (and keep trying different spots on the string (between the fretboard and the bridge)) until it rings out then...
4) MEMORIZE that spot.
Now you own an A pinch harmonic you can pull out of your hat during a solo.
The trick is getting your success % up. If you "swing and miss" it's not going to kill the solo and no one will probably even notice, but when you DO hit it, it's sweeeeeeeet!

Other things that can help/enhance:
Try changing your pickup selector to the bridge, may make it easier.
Use compression (makes quiet notes louder, will bring the harmonics more into "the foreground", etc)
Turn your amp up loud enough to play with a drummer (when your amp is at "apartment practice level" you lose tone, harmonics, and dynamic range)
Maybe your pickups don't match your true desired style (swap them out for Hotter ones)

Happy Jammin!
Last edited by InfiniStudent at Jan 23, 2013,
Just keep going at it, like everything. I can normally get a decent pinch sound if I try, but it took a few years of unconstant practicing.

Quote by FryingNemo
I saw Satan one day
He looked kinda gay
The bible hates gays
So Satan I shall slay
Try using the bridge pickup, also when you pinch, quickly remove your thumb from the string so the note cant be muted. Also, like mentioned above, it is very important the spot in the string where you pinch. Keep practicing
GUYS,it's what infinistudent said,i was doing it too weak,i tried a bit more aggressive and harder,and it worked much better.Guys,thanks for all the opinions,really needed "outside" opinions here!
thanks ))
You know what you can also do that sounds alot like pinch harmonics but its easier to actually play music with. When I played violin for a couple years I used to do harmonics by stopping ( fretting ) a note with your index and lightly touch the string with your pinky right over the fret 5 frets higher. And pick it. It works on guitar too. So if you fret the 12th fret with your index you lightly touch the string above the 17th fret with your pinky. Get good at that playing straight scales that way.
Quote by GoldenGuitar
Buy a Jazz III, and you'll be pinching within 5 minutes.

By that logic anyone can just pick up a guitar one day and play like Steve Vai as long as they were using a Jazz III. I like Jazz IIIs, but a pick alone will not make you a good guitarist. I've gotten to a point where I can play adequately with basically anything as a pick. I've used everything from the tab from a pop can to a silver dollar to a piece of a broken CD, etc. What matters is that you're comfortable with what pick you are using. The pick itself doesn't have any special powers that will make you a guitar god. There's no pick of destiny.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
I struggled with this for the first few months of my playing, I learnt that if you angle the pick downwards it makes it significantly easier, practice on the D or G string as they seem to be the easiest to pull them off. Also the pitch of the harmonic is dependent on how close or far away your pick is from the bridge. If I remember correctly, the closer your pick to the bridge, the higher pitch the harmonic (but too close to the bridge and it will become to difficult to pull off a clean pinch harmonic). And of course further away from the bridge, or closer to the neck if you'd like, the lower pitch the harmonic. Most harmonics are usually somewhere inbetween. Just practice, experiment, find what is comfortable for you hope I helped!
Keep practicing. Took me a while to get it too. Try Cemetary Gates from Pantera (or alot of other Pantera songs). That helps.
Oh ya. When doing pinch harmonic...dont crank the distortion too much. Its a short cut to have alot of distortion but you want to be able to play it when you dont use alot of gain in studio settings.
One problem could be your not tuned perfectly...I notice that even some guitars might be slightly off, so if you hold a different part of the fret, or press just right, you fill find the magic spot.

I mean its notes that make the noise, so if you tunings and notes are not 100% correct they might not show up as good.
Last edited by RyanStorm13 at Feb 14, 2013,
You can position your index finger (RH) so that both your thumb and first finger catch the string as you pick. This gives you two chances of getting a good pinched harmonic.
Professional Guitarist and Guitar Educator
Join my mailing list to receive a on creating an effective practice regime.
Finger placement with your right hand is crucial to pull this off and lots of practice. I did simple rhythms like Zakk Wylde's Conterfiet God and just worked my way up the Spectrum. Actually Billy Gibbons would have been an easier way through pinch harmonics but again i was all about the METAL!!! Shit i was dumb......

Just take it slow and work with different hand placements and rhythms. Should help a bit.
The Rig of Joy:
Stiff Amplification Dirthead 20w
Bugera 2x12 Cab
Fender Partscaster Korean Made
Epiphone Prophecy
Washburn Southern Cross 34 of 100
Ibanez TS9,AD9,GCB95, Multi Chorus and TU2
Quote by Junior#1
There's no pick of destiny.

I think you'll find that there is a pick of destiny.

It'll have you rockin' 'cause it's ****ing insane.
Ibanez TSA30 < Boss OS-2 < Custom Frankenstein Strat w/ scalloped board and Epi LP pickup
Quote by BradIon1995
I think you'll find that there is a pick of destiny.

It'll have you rockin' 'cause it's ****ing insane.

...............You're an idiot. And if you mean the one from the movie, you might just be legally ******ed.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
I had the same problem many moons ago when I started playing. I got into the habit ( as with scales ) of just watching something on TV so the repetition didn't drive me crazy after a few hours, and practice that one thing over and over again till I got the technique perfected. It will just come one day and you will wonder why it was so hard in the first place, like riding a bike. I did the same to learn the Windows part of 21st Century Schizoid Man.
I forgot to add that Destruction Overdrive by BLS is great to practice and will also help your wide vibrato.
I think a great way to practice is to do them on open strings at like the 19th or 24th fret. That'll help you get the feel without worrying about doing them in the right spot. Then, fret like the 1st fret and move slightly down from the 24th fret and try, then keep going down, etc. Once you get the feel you'll be able to do them in the more standard picking locations with more ease. Once you get good at them you should be able to make them ring out decently with even an acoustic guitar (but by no means loudly).

Good luck and keep practicing.

Edit: Also, you can try to find where the natural harmonics in your standard picking position are and then move those positions down a bit when you fret notes.
I don't give a shit if you listen to me or not
Last edited by Kevin Saale at Mar 17, 2013,
I'm a firm believer that if you can't do them unplugged, then you need to practice more that way. That is what I did, and while I'm not expert I can pull them off more often than not.
Washburn MG-44(E)
Ibanez RG421 (Eb)
Art & Lutherie Electric Cutaway
Vox Valvetronix VT40
Vox AC4tv 1x10
Vox Original Wah-Wah Pedal V847-A
MXR '78 Custom Badass Distortion
I learned to play pinch harmonics by teaching myself. There is no angle of the pick and how slightly I touch the string after picking it. I guess I based it on feel. I first practiced pinch harmonics on my acoustic guitar. Made sure I could hear the harmonic. Then when I played the guitar and applied what I learned it just squealed and then I got it.
I think it's important to note that basically every fret of every string has a sweet spot for the pinch harmonic. Most also have several sweet spots. You can play a pinch harmonic on the same fret, but pick it in a different area and it will sound completely different aswell.

I'm a firm believer that pinch harmonics are one of those techniques that always develop and there wont be one of those days where "the pin drops" or whatever people say and then suddenly you think.. well that wasn't so hard.
I first started to learn pinch harmonics close to 4 years ago now. It took me a couple weeks before i ever got my first nice sounding harmonic aswell that i could replicate.
So 4 years later i'm still drastically improving my pinch harmonics.
It's basically a hit or miss technique.. Either you get it and it's awesome or you don't and well you don't, and everyone who knows you're trying to hit that harmonic is like yeah that guy tots just missed his pinch harmonic n00b.
I myself am quite a big admirer of players who can whip out a pinch harmonic at any time during there playing on whatever string and fret they want. A few players / bands come to mind.. **** you Killswitch Engage
Pinch harmonics aren't that hard to get once you have the basic technique of just touching the string with the side of your thumb. As others have said, Jazz IIIs and other small picks make it easier because your thumb will be closer to the string. Nowadays I can play pinch harmonics almost anywhere, any time I want, and rarely miss. People sometimes think of it as two separate motions - pick and touch - but you will have more success at it by simply angling your picking hand slightly and twisting it as you pick, all as one fluid motion.

What really takes time is just getting the locations down. It's all muscle memory and "feel" - you'll simply learn over a long period of time where all the harmonics are, or at least how you'll have to move your picking hand relative to your fretting hand. It's kind of lame but it really is one of those things where you'll just gradually get better at it as you do it - there is no magic bullet and you won't just be able to do it one day.
Last edited by sea` at Mar 20, 2013,