Cool Licks: Using Natural Harmonics

This lick should help give you some ideas of how you can use this skill and apply it to your own creations.

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I find one of the coolest things to play around with on the guitar is the number of natural harmonics that can be found in many places. These sounds are enhanced much more when you add distortion, and you can get some really cool sounds. If you have never played a natural harmonic before, they're pretty easy once you get the hang of them. To summarize quickly how to play these natural harmonics, you're going to place your finger directly above the fret wire (not in between frets, as you would do to normally play a note). The key is to not actually push down on the string, but to touch the string lightly, and then pick. Once you have picked the note, you will get much more sustain if you release your finger from the string as opposed to keeping it in place. The easiest spots to get natural harmonics are above the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets (they can be found above many other frets as well, but these are the easiest). If you have an electric guitar, using distortion will bring out the sound much more. If you want to utilize natural harmonics in a useful way, this lick should help give you some ideas of how you can use this skill and apply it to your own creations. Even if you can't play this lick up to speed, you'll be able to see what's possible with this technique. Check out the video below, and the tablature directly underneath.
About the author: Jason Wilford teaches guitar lessons in Mississauga, (Canada). Check out the Pro Guitar Studio website for more free resources, and to find out how you can become a better guitarist.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    triviumfan2080
    pinch harmonics are the shit....if you push down whammy bar and lightly touch natural harmonics while pulling the whammy bar up its really cool too
    link no1
    I played the tab before I watched the video...I thought I was playing the Guitar Pro jingle at first...
    N7Crazy
    Wecome home (sanitarium), was the first time I learnt to play natural harmonics - my actual first guitar trick.
    J-Dawg158
    A little trick I always do that really impresses people that don't play guitar is if you have a whammy bar, use just one hand to pick the open g string and dive bomb then let the knuckle of your hand touch the harmonic on the 24th fret and pull it back up and really make it scream.
    dark_shredder
    The technique you're referring to is a slightly modified version of the dime squeal if you listen to cemetery gates by pantera Dimebag use's that technique at the end
    J-Dawg158
    Yea, I actually learned it from the song Satch Boogie though. Of course Joe Satriani usually hits the harmonic with his left hand and controls the bar with the right. I just do it with one hand is the only difference.
    J-Dawg158
    Oh yea, I have it backwards. That and what he actually does is a pinch harmonic, that's why he swaps hands. My bad, thanks for the correction.
    Matt_E_Man
    Actually, he talks about how he uses the left on the bar, and right on the harmonic when doing the crazzzzy squeals. It's heard a LOT on the chickenfoot record.
    Livingtime
    Also for more advanced licks you can tap/pull off onto natural harmonics Like: --T12p----
    stiklyman
    The last like 3 minutes or something in Learning to Live by Dream Theater has a really cool melody line with natural harmonics.
    Elderer
    Ergh whats the proper term of that YJM trick? Play note at 9th fret and then gently touch string at 21st fret? Not fret the string,but touch it for a short moment. Add distortion to really notice it.
    cardsfan3
    @elderer That's usually called a tap harmonic. 21 - 9 = 12 It's like playing a 12th fret harmonic on an open string, except you are shortening the string by fretting at the ninth and the harmonic moves nine frets up as well. You can do this anywhere on the neck.
    J-Dawg158
    Andy Timmons has a song called Electric Gypsy that has a melody line played with harmonics like that. Awesome song.