I am trying to figure out the intro to When Death Calls, the Black Sabbath song......I didn't think it would be too tough, but I watched a live video on youtube of them playing it live in 1989 in Moscow and Neil Murray is hitting harmonics on all those notes. What are some tips on doing that. It looks like he plucks with the index and middle finger and uses his thumb to push the harmonic.

I usually play guitar and can do harmonics with my fingers, but on strings that are 3 and 4 times as thick as regular guitar strings, it seems very difficult to get those notes to ring out, especially since you need to apply quite a bit of pressure with your left hand that high up the neck. How do you guys do bass harmonics without using the left hand to push the harmonic?


It looks like he's playing artifical harmonics for the intro. So you need to fret with the left hand as normal. With the right hand, and this is the way I do it as well, you use your thumb to find the node point, and pluck with your finger as normal. You do need to play around a bit to find the node points that sound right though. As an example, play open harmonics at the 5th, 7th and 12th fret. Now, fret the 1st fret, as if you are playing the first fret. Hover your thumb over the 6th, 8th and 13th fret instead. Use your thumb with the light touch you use for the open harmonics- that should give you an idea of how much pressure you need to apply to the string. Once you've got that down, give the notes of the intro a try. You won't have frets to guide you where the nodes are, but at least you'll have the technique to look for them.

Open harmonics on bass are easy- they're exactly the same as on guitar- a light touch over the fret without fretting. I find favouring the bridge pickup helps as well.
Last edited by Deliriumbassist at Jul 4, 2013,
Do you know how to do pinch harmonics? Those were basically pinch harmonics on bass guitar (though I think they are called thumb harmonics or something). You can also do natural harmonics on bass. If you have two pickups, use both of them or bridge pickup only - harmonics on neck pickup just don't ring out that well. Easiest harmonics are on the 12th, 7th and 5th frets. What the guy in the video does is he plays harmonics with his thumb an octave (12 frets) higher than the fretted note.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
I do it with my thumb as well. Youtube has some good videos about it, you should totally check some of them out if you still got trouble
use your bridge pickup if possible, it picks up harmonics far easier.

i mostly slap harmonics with my thumb as above, it gets the job done. you can use your fingers as well, but i'd rather work smarter than harder
modes are a social construct