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Lesson 1- Harmonics- Page 1, Lesson 1
Lesson 2- String Bending- Page 1, Lesson 2
Lesson 3- Barre Chords- Page 1, Lesson 3
Lesson 4- Modes- Page 1, Lesson 4

Lesson 1


The term harmonic refers to the bell-like tones you get by damping specific frets on the guitars fingerboard.

It is worth learning harmonics since they can provide you with some very usefull playing effects.

How Do Harmonics Work?

Each time you strike a guitar string, the sound you hear is the result of a number of different components which, when taken together, form what is known as the HARMONIC SERIES.

The dominant sound you hear is known as the FUNDAMENTAL. This is the string vibrating along the full length of the fingerboard between the bridge and the nut, and consequently the element which defines the pitch of the note. However, their are further tones which can also be heard:

These result from shorter frequencies vibrating along different parts of the string, are strict multiples of the fundamental, and are known as HARMONICS, or OVERTONES. The balance between various hamonics and the fundamental is what creates the tonal characteristics of an acoustic note produced by any instrument.

The Harmonic Series:

You can hear a harmonic in isolation by playing a note muted by the left hand at specified points on the guitar fingerboard. The easiest to produce is an OCTAVE HARMONIC.

Place the tip of your finger EXACTLY above the twelfth fret on any string. (Be sure not to ACTUALLY press down on the fret). Now pick that note. All you should hear is a bell-like tone. This is the harmonic, the fundamental having been muted by your finger.

The pitch of the harmonic you hear depends on the mathematical divisions of the string that is resonating. By muting the fundamental at the twelfth fret, you divide the string in half. The twelfth fret being exactly in between the nut and bridge. This is known as the FIRST HARMONIC.

Other types of harmonics are possible too: The SECOND HARMONIC divides the string into three equal sections, the THIRD HARMONIC divides it into quarters, and the FOURTH HARMONIC divides the string into five equal segments.

The frets for these types of harmonics are these: 12th Fret=First Harmonic, 7th/19th Frets=Second Harmonic, 5th Fret=Third Harmonic, In between the 4th and 5th Frets, and the 16th Fret= Fourth Harmonic, and the 3rd Fret=Fifth Harmonic.

Heres a diagram: (They are applicable to any string)
Numbers in brackets= Harmonic Number


Pinch/Fretted Harmonics

It is actually possible to play harmonics (Pinch, Fretted, or even Fake harmonics if you prefer) for any note on the fingerboard.

What a person does is: they fret a certain note of any string (Lets take 2nd fret of the first string as an example) and the left hand frets the notes in the conventional way, while the right hand simultaniously mutes and plucks said harmonic.

For our example, fret with your left hand the 2nd fret of any string. Now, since every twelfth fret is an octave, rest your index finger lightly on the 14th fret of the string while still holding the 2nd fret.

Now, with your thumb/fourth finger, pluck the note while your index finger is still lightly pressing on the 14th fret. You should hear an OCTAVE HARMONIC.

This can work with any fretted note providing you have sufficient fret range, and you follow the harmonic series with open strings.

I hope this helps with some of your harmonical questions.

Last edited by Zamboni at Oct 8, 2003,
Lesson 2

Hello again everyone, i've been itching to post a new lesson so here it goes:

String Bending History and Gauges:

String bending was originally developed by blues and country players to mimic the sound of bottleneck guitars, or much later, pedal steel string guitars.

Bending has now become one of the most widely used effect in most guitar styles, as it can provide greater texture to your sound, as well as added emotional dimention.

The principal factor which governs the degree in which you can bend a string is its thickness, or GAUGE. String widths (gauges) are generally expressed as decimal fractions of an inch and can be found on any package of strings you buy.

Weighing up the pros and cons of each type of thickickness or style of string is really a matter of personal taste.

You must take into account that while thin, light gauge strings are more pliable and easier on your fretting fingers, they are more likely to break with continued use, create a shoter sustain, have a lower volume, and the degree in which they can stretch makes them more troublesome to keep in tune than that of higher gauge strings.

Some players maintain that higher thickness strings simply sound better than thin ones.

If your guitar uses light gauge strings- where the first string is no more than .10 inches thick- you should be able to alter the pitch of a note by at least a tone. Allthough this can also be achieved with steel string acoustic guitars under the most favorable circumstances, it is almost impossible to reach a semi tone on classical or flamenco gutiars, or with evem with thicker electric strings.

With their degree of pliability, the treble strings are most often used for bending, which causes them to break most frequently. So it's wise to keep a supply a spares in your case.

Bending The Strings:

This is one of the most basic and widely used techniques of the modern guitarist today. It is usually achieved by playing a string, then bending the string up or down to create a pitch change.

It can also be produced mechanically with a tremolo arm.

String Bending Exercise:

-Play the 8th fret of the second string. Now, remember that sound, because it will come in handy when attempting to bend up a tone.

- Place your 2nd finger on the 6th fret of the 2nd string.



- Pick this note. You are playing an F.

-While the note is sustaining, push the string upwards (towards the roof) untill the pitch increases by what you assume is relatively close to a tone (remembering the 8th fret we played earlier)

-You should now be hearing the note G.

At first it may be difficult to stop or get to the correct pitch, but this will come with practice. In fact, some styles of playing dont even need pitch-perfect bending. A slightly flat note in blues playing can be a very nice effect.

Take care, however, not to bend the string to much (called "Over Bending") unless it is called for, because this will make the note sound sharp and not as good.

As an alternative, it is also possible to pull the strings downward, rather than push them upwards. This is generally used when bending the bass strings, because, if the low E string is bent up wards and/or the high E string is bent downwards, it is likely that the string will slip off the fingerboard of your guitar, producing a very unpleasant sound, and killing the note.

This should'nt be too much of a problem considering that most players find it easier to push the treble strings upwards and pull the bass strings downwards anyway.

Well, i hope this can help with some string-bending questions.

Untill the next lesson...

Last edited by Zamboni at Oct 8, 2003,
Lesson 3

Barre Chords:

Barre chords are essentially open-string chord shapes that can be formed at different points on the fingerboard.

To form a barre chord,

1. The first finger is stretched across the width of the fingerboard.



Kind of like putting a capo on a certain fret.

2. The remaining three fingers are used to form the chord shape.

e.g. An E Barre Chord thats the shape of an E chord, but is actually F#.:


So now, you are forming an E chord shape, but since it has moved up the fingerboard, you are actually playing F#.

Essentially, the first finger acts as the nut, or zero fret. The great thing about barre chords are that they allow open-string chord shapes to be played in any key.

The most commonly used barre chords are E Shaped (like the exercise above) and A Shape. Less common are those formed around the open C and G chords. They are possible, but much trickier to pull off. Barre chords are also sometimes known as "slash" chords.

Why do barre chords work?

Barre chords work because the first finger acts as a repositioned nut from which open string chord shapes can be built. In practice, this is more complex since you no longer have a first finger to fret individual notes.

Some guitarist like the way the open string chord shapes sound. Others appretiate the ease with which chord changes can be made. Therefore, some players choose to, instead of forming barre chords, they place a CAPO on a fret instead.

The capo works by fitting over the strings of the fingerboard and pressing down, using a clamp on the back, acting just as the first finger of a barre chord would word, but now, you have the first finger back, being able to fret individual notes.

If a capo were fitted on the fifth fret, and a standard E Major chord shape were formed, the resulting chord would be A Major.

The E Shaped Barre:

As we worked on above, the E Shaped barre chord works by having the first finger pressed against all the strings of a certain fret.

After this is done, the remaining three fingers are free to form an E Major chord shape.

The E Major Chord Shape:


If a barre is formed on the fourth fret, and an E Major chord is formed, the resulting chord is G#.

The correct chord name for an E Shaped barre chord can always be found by finding the barred note you are fretting on the sixth string.

The A Shaped Barre:

The A Shaped barre works in the same way as an E Shaped barre, but you only need to barre the first five strings. The sixth string is optional, because the ROOT will always be on the fifth string.

A regular A Major chord looks like this:


Again, the sixth string is optional, and even though its musically correct, in some cases it just makes the chord sound wrong.

And most players like the lessened strength it takes to hold down one less string in an A Shaped barre chord anyway, so this should'nt be a problem.

So, forming an A Shaped barre on the second fret of the fifth string, will result in a B Major Chord.


I find the chord sounds better when the sixth string is not played.

I would go into C Shaped and G Shaped barres, but, since they are so uncommon, and this IS the beginner forum, I'll leave them out.

Allthough, if you wish to know about the C and G Shaped barres, then, please, by all means PM me, and I'll edit this lesson to include those chords.

Well, I hope this can help with your barre chord needs.


Last edited by Zamboni at Oct 8, 2003,
Lesson 4

History of Modal Playing:

A type of scale useful to know other than the major and minor variants is called the MODE. There are seven types of modes in western playing, and you may be surprised to learn that modes pre-date the diatonic scales (major and minor), which didnt evolve until the 17th century.

The modal system can be traced back to Ancient Greek times. During the middle ages, it was taken up by the christian church, where it dominated western music for several hundred years.

What Are Modes?

Like diatonic scales, each of the seven modes comprises eight notes from root to octave. The notes used by ALL of the modes equate directly to the white notes of a piano keyboard- hence the notes of a C major scale.

You may be wondering what practical use modes have for you. That's a resonable question. It's been asked countless times on here. Originally, the modes were veiwed as a fixed series of pitches and notes, not a set of relative intervals.

Modern usage, however, has reinterpreted a mode merely as a scale with it's own set of intervals. Therefore, it is possible to transpose any of these modes into ANY key, creating seven new types of scales, each with it's own unique set of characteristics.

Familiar Sounds:

After you play all of the modes I will tab, you should be able to recognise that the Ionian mode is in fact, the Major scale by another name. Also, the Aeolian mode uses the same set of intervals as the Natural Minor scale.

If you've gotten familiar with other types of scale positions in your guitar playing carreer, but have never tried modes, you should have very little trouble getting to grips with the seven types of modes.

The Modes Themselves:

Below this, you will see seven TABS. Each one shows the correct fret and string of the mode outlined above the staff. The intervals are typed under the specific mode.

I've tabbed these all in the key of A.

The Ionian Mode in A:

Tone, Tone Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone

The Dorian Mode in A:

Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone

The Phrygian Mode in A:

Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone

The Lydian Mode in A:

Tone, Tone, Tone, Semtitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone

The Mixolydian Mode in A:

Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone

The Aeolian Mode in A:

Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone

The Lochrian Mode in A:

Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone

There, I hope that helps.

Last edited by Zamboni at Oct 8, 2003,
oh crap i forgot to put you on my cool list

I'll put yo on in a sec, but i have one more thing to say:

When zambi is spoken, the mouth is opened at the end of the word, allowing the next word to flow more easily. Zam iends with a closed mouth sound which does not flow as well and makes it harder to distinguish between zam and whatever word comes next. And that is why you will always be zambi.

Thanks for the lessons, yo.
haha. thanks.

you guys can post in this now since im really busy with school and hockey and such, my lessons wont be as regular. so, post whatever comments or anything else pertaining to beginners, my lessons, or if you have any lesson requests that i can work on.

Wow, going into locrian and aeolian modes on the first lesson

hold up there buddy, start out with something, like reading tabs, or what the strings are tuned to ususally.
Originally posted by bexinthematrix
Are there any ways of practicing modes without having to just play them over and over?

the key to understanding modes and using them correctly is HEARING them. thats right hearing them.

out of context (ie no backing track, etc) if you play all 7 modes starting with C ionian, CDEFGAB, then D dorian DEFGABC, etc etc they will all sound the same; this is very bad, because then you you miss the point of them.

what must be done is extra emphasis put on the root notes.... if you just played a random lick like C-D-G-E-F there'd be no way you can say which mode it is.... could be all 7; so you really have to work your head roudn hearing them.

what my teacher showed me, put guitar onto clean channel; transpose any chosen mode to key of E (any mode at all). then play the low E string, and while it RINGS, improvise in the mode on the higher strings....... then try another mode, but still in E. you will hear the difference in the sounds... and thats the key to understanding the modes.

thats an alternate, more fun, and dare i say more useful way of practicing modes (though of course playing them at 4 per click at 200bpm does have its uses too )

Thank you very much for this zambi tkstkstks i just began guitar... just wanna know if you will, a day, put them in french?(your lessons)

tk tks
A God's Slaughter dead guitarist...
Annoying humanity sickens me... I contemplate your exctinction
I never could grasp those modes...but i was never into theory..just pick it up and play...
Just out of curiosity what are the more prominant modes in metal. Wehn i do i metal solo i usually use a harmonic minor,dorian,or pentatonic
Originally posted by Feelthevayne
Just out of curiosity what are the more prominant modes in metal. Wehn i do i metal solo i usually use a harmonic minor,dorian,or pentatonic

i belive harmonic minor is very common. melodic minor too if im not mistaken.
Thnx for the modes
Slap me with a wet fish and call me ronald mcdonald
that lesson was pretty good. i dident know how pinch harmonics worked before.

thanks zambi.
"To die is to know that you?re alive
and my river of blood won?t run dry
I never wanted to lose you-no
But a cold heart is a dead heart
and it feels like I?ve been buried alive by love"
Originally posted by iePol
I never could grasp those modes...but i was never into theory..just pick it up and play...

You cant just do that if you ever want to compose or improvise solos or anything you need to know theroy

Originally posted by "plastic-society":
Oh great. Now you'll be sneezing and sending food all across the kitchen, while also bleeding everywhere. Not only do they have a corpse to get rid of, but now the clean up job is even worse.
_ _
I ( \/ ) Theory
\ /
\ /

Gd stuff dude
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this might be a stupid question but how would you play something like this

its a part of rock and roll aint noise pollution by acdc and i cant figure it out, do i pick A and then B and G together or do i just strum them all together and just try to skip D....
good lessons thx!
"Cut my life into pieces, this my last resort, sofocation no breathing..."
Originally posted by Zamboni
i belive harmonic minor is very common. melodic minor too if im not mistaken.

More harmonic minor than melodic minor, melodic minor is usually used for jazz, blues, and funk rather than metal.

Metal also uses synthetic scales like the Whole Note scale and diminished scale.

Also the minor modes of the major scale: Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian.
Originally posted by splitfingers
this might be a stupid question but how would you play something like this

its a part of rock and roll aint noise pollution by acdc and i cant figure it out, do i pick A and then B and G together or do i just strum them all together and just try to skip D....

Strum all 4 strings. Fret the B and G string, and use one of your other fretting fingers to prevent the D string from ringing.
i guess you could also finger pick it.
Newbie Guitarist - have mercy!
Guitar: Washburn D10s
Thanks for the mode lesson, I am not a beginner by any means but never really grasped the full concept. Also, thank you to StreamLine for a further explanation and exercise.
Im wondering, is there any difference between pinch harmonics and artificial harmonics?

I was a classical player and have been doing artificial harmonics, such as the 2nd fret by left hand and 14th fret by right.

Is pinch harmonics the same thing? And how do you do that with a pick anyway? Unless u hold the pick the same way Eddie Van Halen does... But I don't, I grab it with my thumb and index
just wait till that day comes...

Picture says a thousand words. There is a difference, although it is the exact same concept. You just use a different picking technique when you do pinch harmonics.
is this a thread devoted to posting lessons??? my lessons and the strat man's lessons generally dont seem to be wanted in MT.

EDIT: Well these lessons are more Guitar and Bass techniques, whereas The Strat Man's lesson and mine were theory... but you DO have a modes lesson here.
i have a question about palm muting. b4 everyone gets mad at me for asking a question that has been asked 100 times, i havent found the answer to it anywhere. i was wondering when u upstrum when ur palm muting is it supposed to sound different like ur not p/m at all?
I once stabbed a man for stealing my cake, and I don't even like cake.
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