Playing Pinch Harmonics

  • 02/19/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC
Technique Focus - Pinch Harmonics
In this lesson we are going to look at "Pinch Harmonics." First of all I want you to touch the low "E" string over the 12th fret, ensuring that your finger is over the metal fret itself, now pick the string. Notice that you get the same note (E) an octave higher. Now turn some gain up on your amp and gently touch any string with the fretting hand, moving over all the frets. Notice that as we move along the length of the string we get all manner of harmonics occurring.

"Pinch harmonics" are really a way of utilizing the guitars harmonics on fretted notes. In order to get a harmonic on a fretted note we must develop technique in the picking hand, by which we get the harmonic to jump out. We are effectively "pinching" the string. It is essential that we show as little pick as possible to the string and that we drag the pick through the string then the flesh of the side of the thumb should gently rub the string. It is very important that you experiment by moving the picking hand along the length of the string you are picking (around the pickup), to get different harmonics. Keep Twangin'

Lick Breakdown
Lick 1 - Zakk Wylde gets a real edgy aggressive sound by using pinch harmonics. Make sure you really get definition in the pinched notes so they really stand out. Accuracy is the key here, we really need to hear the harmonic squealing out.

Learning Pinch Harmonics
Click to Enlarge

Lick 2 - Billy Gibbons uses pinch harmonics as an integral part of his style. Here you start off picking the harmonics around the bridge pickup and gradually move towards the neck pickup. This gives a variety of harmonics.

Playing Pinch Harmonics
Click to Enlarge

Lick 3 - In this example we apply harmonics to bent notes in the style of Robbie Roberston. Ensure that you pitch the bend accurately and that you get those harmonics screaming out! Be sure to experiment by moving the picked harmonics along the length of the string.
Pinch Harmonics Tutorial
Click to Enlarge