Dimebag Darrell's Pinch Squeals

Breaking down the basics to the late and great Dimebag Darrell's legendary pinch harmonic squeals.

Ultimate Guitar
Have you ever listened to Pantera and heard Dimebag Darrell do a really long and loud harmonic? Chances are if you are a Pantera fan you have heard Dime do this multiple times. It is most notably recognized in the song "Cemetery Gates" near the end of the song where Dime is matching his harmonic squeals to the key of Phil Anselmo's voice. This technique is actually very easy and not as hard as it sounds. First I want to start off and say that your guitar needs to have a Floyd Rose bar with locking nuts. If you don't have a guitar like this then you cannot perform this technique. Ok, there isn't really an easy way to explain how to do this. Let's start out with Ex. 1. Ex. 1
Har. = Harmonic In Ex. 1 you want to pluck the open note with your finger. After plucking the note you want to barely place your finger on the harmonic of the 4th fret and let go. Doing this will make the string do a harmonic noise as if you actually used a pick to produce it. Now practice plucking the string with your finger and getting the harmonic until you feel comfortable with it. Now that you got Ex. 1 down we'll get to the next step. When you get the harmonic noise and you have let go of the note, you want to push your Floyd Rose bar down really fast (or really slow, it depends on the sound you want for the note). The note should get really high pitched. How you use the bar with this will determine the length of your note. Different pedals also can sustain your note longer (such as a Crybaby pedal or possibly even an Overdrive pedal). - You can do this technique basically anywhere on the guitar as long as you can do the harmonic on the note. - If you've ever watched Dimebag do this he pushes his tremolo bar down backwards. In other words he pushes the bar down near the bottom body of the guitar rather than pushing it down near the pickups and the strings. I hope this helps you, If you have any questions feel free to ask. This is my first lesson I've made so I'm not the best at it yet. Getcha Pull! \m/ R.I.P. Dimebag Darrell Abbott

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This was a good attempt at a lesson, but it's kind of lacking. Also, you can use any type of tremolo system, as long as you can pull it back and dump it. One last thing, according to a video I watched a while back, Dime uses a delay effect with some reverb and chorus to get his sound. Other than that, your absolutely right, you can accomplish this technique anywhere on the fretboard that produces a harmonic.
    This is not how it's done or how Dime did it. What he does it flick a string with your left hand, then drop the whammy bar making the string very loose. Then bring the whammy bar back up, and 'catch' the harmonic by touching the string slightly in the appropriate position. You have to do this when bringing the whammy bar back up, while the string is still slightly loose, so timing is everything. You can find the harmonics from frets 12, 7, 5, 4 and slightly above and below fret 3 (these two are the most difficult ones). Then just let it ring and make it squeal with the whammy bar. There's a video of Dime explaining this technique with examples on Youtube:
    This is the exact I learned how to do it from. I just tried to make a written lesson of it for everybody.
    That was a cool lesson Not too many lessons mention the use of the whammy bar for harmonic work. It's a good thing to get used to using, it's becoming a lost art form
    i am getting the harmonic going down with the floyd rose but trying to get it to pull back up doesnt work... Can anyone help?
    Possible fretting issue. Make sure the guitar is setup correctly, sometimes upon lifting the bar you can deaden the notes as it pulls tighter to the neck.
    Also using an actual Floyd rose or FU-tone helps. I've had a few "licensed" jackson ones and they are not very good. However my Jacksons fitted with FR and FUs are superb.