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Harmonics..

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Harmonics..

Postby The Bunk » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:47 pm

I'm recodirng myself on guitar playing typical barre chord/double-stops (it's actually Blondie's "One Way Or Another" with quite a crunchy sound) and I'm getting harmonics as I lift off my left (fretting) hand and dampen the strings with my right to help with the staccato way the chords are played. Gradually through the song it's starts to become damn annoying as you can hear this high pitched-ringing. Is there a way of EQ'ing it out or do I just need to sharpen up my technique?! It's in D and it's mostly on the D chord at the 10th fret I'm getting it.
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Re: Harmonics..

Postby zenguitar » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:54 pm

Well, if you are play the inversion of D at the 10th fret I imagine that you are playing the basic E shape. If that is the case you will be fretting the A & D strings at the 12th fret and there is a reasonable possibility that when pulling the finger(s) off those strings you spend a moment touching the node point above the 12th fret. Easy to do, especially if you fret those two notes together with the ring finger. OK, you are damping with the right hand but if you are heel damping at the bridge most of the string length is free to vibrate and the harmonics come out as the string between the nut and 12th fret node is still vibrating cleanly.

Try partially lifting your fretting hand, lifting the other fingers a fraction before you lift the barre and keep the barring finger against the strings to damp them.

And, as always, there could well be other causes and I could be drawing the wrong conclusion. But worth a try :)

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Re: Harmonics..

Postby The Bunk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:46 am

Thanks Andy - yep, I'm playing the E-shape as you've suggested.
Good tip about the barring finger; I'll give that a go. What's odd is that I think the harmonic sound is actually coming from that bottom E string at the 10th fret as oppsoed to the A and D at the 12th. Is that possible? I certainly wouldn't call what I'm getting as a true harmonic; it's more of an annoying "ping" type sound!
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Re: Harmonics..

Postby anasanchez » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:02 am

thanks for the info,i got a friend who has an awesome recording techniques
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Re: Harmonics..

Postby zenguitar » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:19 pm

10th fret on the bottom E. The interesting thing about harmonics is that the nodes aren't always located exactly over a fret, and the node close to the 9th fret is actually between the 9th and 10th frets. The same area where your barring finger would be. And it's always easier to get those 'less common' harmonics on the bass strings than the treble ones. On the treble E the string has very little mass so you have to be very accurate to find the harmonic at the 9th/10th fret. If you are slightly in the wrong place your fingertip damps the vibration because the string has little energy. On the bass E there is a lot more mass which gives the string greater energy, so if you are close enough to the harmonic node it can still sound clearly.

Does that fit in with what you are hearing?

Another long shot worth checking is the section of string between the nut and the tuning post. Those lengths do resonate in sympathy with the main section and contribute to the tone of the instrument. Try strumming them with a plectrum with the guitar plugged in if you haven't done before ;) The wound E & A strings will usually sound around the pitch you are hearing. On their own they won't sound clearly, but if they are the same pitch as the harmonic they will contribute energy to help that harmonic sound louder and clearer.

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Re: Harmonics..

Postby Guest » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:01 pm

zenguitar wrote:10th fret on the bottom E. The interesting thing about harmonics is that the nodes aren't always located exactly over a fret


I'm sure zenguitar knows all this, but there are three reasons behind these kind of issues:

1. The frets are placed to closely approximate equal temperament rather than natural harmonics from any of the open strings. However, the harmonic above the 10th fret shouldn't sound the octave of the open string! If this is the case, it means you seriously need your guitar setting up properly. Even in equal temperament, the octave is theoretically a pure perfect octave (stretched octaves aside).

2. The pressing of the string onto the fretboard causes some bending of the string which is supposed to be compensated by tuning. The higher your strings are from the fretboard, the more bent the corresponding pitches will be compared to frets. This doesn't affect the harmonic however, so there's always a missmatch between harmonics and the frets. You can hear this difference by comparing the note produced when a blues slide is placed above the corresponding fret compared to the note produced when pressing it onto the fret. String guage affects this too. Higher string guage causes less bending from the string to the fret. This is true of all pitches, and even though in equal temperament the 12th fret should match a near perfect octave above its open string, the harmonic might not because of compensation. It is more difficult to compensate for this when adjusting for a better sound. Top quality classical guitars will be built with optimum compensation, which can't be altered by the musicians, only by damage like warping or using higher or lower guage strings than intended.

3. Because of stretched octaves. On the piano, a note is tuned to better match the second partial (1:2) of its octave rather than the fundamental. This is because string tension causes the note to sharpen as it decays, and this needs to be compensated for.

So, tuning the guitar isn't as straightforward as people think. I don't use digital tuners because it's more important that the guitar is in tune with itself. The guage of string (one of my blind spots actually), the guitar set up, and the approach to tuning all affect the final result.
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Re: Harmonics..

Postby The Bunk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:13 pm

zenguitar wrote:10th fret on the bottom E. The interesting thing about harmonics is that the nodes aren't always located exactly over a fret, and the node close to the 9th fret is actually between the 9th and 10th frets. The same area where your barring finger would be. And it's always easier to get those 'less common' harmonics on the bass strings than the treble ones. On the treble E the string has very little mass so you have to be very accurate to find the harmonic at the 9th/10th fret. If you are slightly in the wrong place your fingertip damps the vibration because the string has little energy. On the bass E there is a lot more mass which gives the string greater energy, so if you are close enough to the harmonic node it can still sound clearly.

Does that fit in with what you are hearing?


Yep, pretty much. I've not actually tried to work out which "note" I am getting so I'll have another look tonight but it's definitely got more of a bottom-end feel to it.
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Re: Harmonics..

Postby The Bunk » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:58 am

Problem solved; took a more careful look at what I was doing and my barring finger was being "lazy"; wasn't quite straight and was encroaching onto the 10th fret. Time to sharpen up the technique...
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Re: Harmonics..

Postby zenguitar » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:09 pm

Glad you got it sorted out :)

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