so i was just wondering, how do most metal bands, i.e. Killswitch Engage, Between the Buried and Me, Pantera, etc. get ssssooooooo perfect harmonics? is it just practice, or is it there gear? do they get the great tone from the amps, the strings, what? i can get some pretty wicked harmonics on my ibanez, but it has .09 strings, whereas most bands use way heavier, so how do they get it that perfect? and any tips on how to make them squeal and scream more would be helpful, thanks
Its less in the harmonics and more in the vibrato.

A few years ago when I was going through my metal stage, I couldn't get my harmonics to sound like Zakk Wyldes if my life depended on it, then one day, I detuned my guitar, hit a harmonic on the low E (3rd fret) and just shook it like my life depended on it.
Last edited by al112987 at Aug 7, 2008,
From my experience....

Distortion goes up, tuning goes down, string gauge goes up. That's what makes it easier, to me.
I play through a 6505 head and the harmonics come easily... I've noticed the more gain and push helps the harmonics intensity. I play in dropped B with 12 gauge strings. I'd say it has a lot to do with the gear.
I dropped to Drop C, heavy gauges and loads of vibrato.

Hit a harmonic with your 3rd (ring) finger on the 5th fret, low E (or C in my case) and with your first and middle fingers pull down on the string then wobble it twice. Perfect "killswitch" harmonic.
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wrong wrong wrong!

total technique! good players do it well on acoustics - experiment with pick position in your fingers and position over the strings.

i can do it anywhere - then apply the fitting vibrato!
Quote by davedoom
wrong wrong wrong!

total technique! good players do it well on acoustics - experiment with pick position in your fingers and position over the strings.

i can do it anywhere - then apply the fitting vibrato!

What he said. I can do them on any guitar. Some amps/guitars sound better though.
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they have good technique AND CRUSHING OVERDRIVE. also you don't need thick strings to do it well. i play .09-.046 and do it well.
I actually find it easier to pinch on thinner strings. When I got the Donais getting harmonics took no effort.

After stringing it with 11's, its absolutely more difficult.
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Super compressed, gainy metal amps are gonna help, but it still comes down to technique. I can do them without the amp even on, that's pretty much what it takes. To make them really squeal, you gotta shake the note.
Quote by al112987
Its less in the harmonics and more in the vibrato.

agreed. granted you need a good enough pinch technique to actually make the harmonic sound, but once you have that, making it squeal is all the vibrato.

Obviously having a good high gain amp won't hurt either.
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Quote by davedoom
wrong wrong wrong!

total technique! good players do it well on acoustics - experiment with pick position in your fingers and position over the strings.

i can do it anywhere - then apply the fitting vibrato!

I agree. I can get pinch harmonics on any guitar, but it's definitely easier with a high gain amp. To get uber-fast, full-step vibrato like Zakk, you'll need to practice a lot & build your hand strength. Drop tunings help make the strings easier to bend, but if you go larger gauge, it's a wash...it still will take strength. I use .009-.042 on most of my guitars & play in standard tuning. One trick is to use multiple fingers to pull on the string to move it more aggressively, & use your wrist for the vibrato, not your fingers. The exception to this (for me, anyway) is if I'm playing really fast runs with my thumb on the back of the neck, then I'll use the double-finger technique, but pull the strings aggressively with a scratching motion with my thumb firmly pressed into the back of the neck. It works for me, & it gets super fast full-step or even 1 1/2 step vibrato with killer harmonics.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I'm also modifying this last method & building more strength to be able to do it with my ring finger & pinky on their own. Ring finger dialed in pretty good. Pinky=hard to do big vibrato!
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Last edited by riffhog at Aug 7, 2008,
it's all technique, but things like amp settings, and what pups you use bring out the sound more
It's part technique and part pickups/gain. I can do them good enough to where i can hear them on an acoustic, but my electric has muddy pickups and my pinch harmonics don't sound clear and sharp and really undefined. I played my guitar though a 6505 and it sound better. Played my friends who has EMGs through the it and it sounded like this:


and i felt beastly.
Last edited by Ignite at Jun 14, 2009,
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I used a Super Distortion Pedal and it Works!!!

thanks for bringing up a nearly year old dead thread, really just thank you it's just what everyone needed to know
I get really wicked sounding pinch harmonics with the Dimarzio's in my Ibanez but not so much with my OLP. There's something about that guitar where I just can't consistently hit them. It might have something to do with the pickups or my not being used to the different scale of the guitar. Practice will bring them out, anyway; you've just gotta remember to vibrato like a mofo.
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Because I bend in such an unorthodox fashion; the notes kinda slide up and slide down...
A huge role is also the production (obviously this only accounts for 'on record' pinch harmonics). The guitar players have multiple chances to get the harmonic perfect, and have editing software to double layer and intensify the harmonic.
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I pull off harmonics but I call this one the *Killswitch Engaged* Harmonic...
The big bold one...

3rd fret lowest 2 strings .No Special picking required

Pick as normal...bend the string without it touching the fretboard and you will get a LOUD
harmonic. Next...you just add wide vibrato.

Imagine a set of train tracks that has a stick laying across them. Thats basically the idea.
You can press down on the string slightly..but as long as the string doesnt hit the fretboard
you will get sirens of hades!

If you look down on a string and imagine it as a cube instead of round. The top is the part of the string you usually press down on. The side nearest you is the front...and the edge
on the opposite side is the back.

Take your finger and grab it at the *Front Edge* and simply add vibrato in a lateral motion.
This effect works on the two lowest 3rd frets on any guitar. It works alot better in Drop-D.
The quality of your pickups and setup will detirmine how many other places you can do it.

Gain is essential..and compression will amplify some harmonics. Single coils will let you know if you are doing this Teknik right..but they wont really jump out at you.
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Last edited by Washburnd Fretz at Jun 14, 2009,
Gain + More Gain = Easy Pinch harmonics

and yes, harmonics themselves are easy, its mostly the vibrato that makes it sound cooler, and makes it harder to do.

i try to mix it up and use the tremolo arm to get some reayy weird sounding harmonics, pinched divebombs etc.

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