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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

"Side of the pick" or "pinch harmonics"

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by soulgeezer, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. DougM

    DougM Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    Since no one else mentioned this I will- picking at one of the harmonic nodes (of which there are many) of the note that you're fretting. Otherwise, it ain't gonna happen.
    ScribbleSomething likes this.

  2. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 9, 2008
    I can do it automatically low gain or high but just to annoy band members who hate it .

    It annoys me too when players use it too much, i.e, much at all...
    P Thought and william tele like this.

  3. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 13, 2014
    Low string ones are nice because they sound "thicker".

    I don't think of the movement as a "stroke". With a pick, it is more like pushing the thumb forward, for me - and definitely downwards.

    The same movement is possible without pick, too, wearing out the index finger nail.... I've also experimented with touching the string with the thumb while picking up with the index finger.

  4. bo

    bo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    That's one of those things I grew up doing. Roy Buchanan got more airplay in my area when I was a kid as he was a local artist. Even with a light pick I've found you can get them by gripping it more firmly and choking up on it. Yeah, a little OD helps bring them out. I had a Tele pickup go south on me a few years ago and it basically went about half output and all treble. Supposedly that's what happened to Roy's guitar according to some, and I will say the pinched notes flew off that pickup with almost annoying ease. It was still a bit shrill overall though.
    jimash likes this.

  5. NJ Deadhead

    NJ Deadhead Tele-Meister

    Jan 25, 2017
    Greenville, SC
    Yes, I never really give this a second though...just thought it was natural and most guitar players can easily do this.
    jimash likes this.

  6. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Nov 5, 2013
    I like to take one note and then pinch it at different places to explore that.
    ScribbleSomething and DougM like this.

  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 2, 2010
    Oddly I can do it without a pick and on bass as well, but never really mastered it on electric with a flatpick. I learned to do it with flatpick by accident early on, but didn't practice it and now don't remember how.
    On bass is can sound like a Hammond, which is cool.

  8. schmee

    schmee Tele-Holic

    Jun 2, 2003
    Nope, it happens anywhere. Just enhanced at those nodes. Every fret.

  9. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 13, 2014
    Every fret works, of course. But the thumb has to touch the string at a node. Otherwise it just mutes everything, or too much at least. When you touch the string, it mutes the long waves, and only those that have a node where you touch will be heard.
    moosie and DougM like this.

  10. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 5, 2006
    Sinatra's World
    Short version of pretty cool story...

    As a result of this thread, I decided to dig out an old cassette tape of some recording that I did with my band ASTA in the early 80s (the reason will become clear in a minute). Imagine my surprise when I not only found the tape, but also discovered that every single cassette player in my house is broken!

    So, I went online and bought a little Walkman-looking thing that connects to the PC and let's you digitize your tapes. It was all of $9, so why not, right?

    Well, the thing arrived yesterday and it took me a couple of hours today to transfer the old songs to my computer. These recordings were made in 1983 and 1984 in a friend's 4-track studio. Today, they sound like crap. But, back then? We thought they were wonderful!

    How does this connect to the side of the pick harmonics thing? Here's a link to a song from that tape. In fact, it's the very first song I ever recorded! I am playing all of the instruments: guitar (three tracks), bass, and drums. My friend Dave Warren is the vocalist.

    The song was written by Dave and another friend, Fred Drechsler. It's called Satan's Angel (aren't all of our first teenage efforts at songwriting called Satan's Angel?). It's really not terrible, and it was the very first guitar solo I ever put on tape. If I do say so myself, it's not half bad for somebody who'd been playing guitar for only two to three years at that point and had never had a lesson.

    Well, enough words. Here's the song. Listen especially to the last eight measures of the guitar solo. I was a pinch harmonics prodigy (apparently)!


  11. jaybones

    jaybones Tele-Afflicted

    I've always been able to summon them at will.

    Only ever tried on the down stroke, with a small hard pick (Jazz III mostly). But I recently changed from my late 80's Peavey Stereo Chorus 400 twin (2x65 watts 12" speakers) to a Bugera V5 Infinium (5 watts 8" speaker) and seemed to not be getting them as well.

    Figured out EQ had a lot to do with it (Bugera pretty dark sounding amp- only a tone knob). And after playing the little amp pretty wide open for a day or so (loosening the speaker cone I suppose)- don't let anyone tell you 5 watt amps can't be LOUD- started to get them easily.

    Not like before, since the SC 400 was voiced for those kinds of sounds.

  12. MattyK-USA

    MattyK-USA TDPRI Member

    Feb 22, 2018
    Savannah GA
    Not an issue for me. Didn't start doing it on purpose - I noticed it was happening on un-amped guitars when I was playing big bends on lower frets. Realized I was catching the string with my thumb last, because I was "twisting" the pick strike. Instant harmonic. Never really noticed that it happens on specific harmonics relative to the octave or whatever.

    Edit - howzabout that technical term there - un-amped :)

  13. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy TDPRI Member

    Nov 16, 2014
    Albany NY
    You can get four or five different chirps in the standard harmonic series from a single fretted note if you work a bit at your pick hand positioning. One trick I've used to good effect is to pick over the fretboard an octave above the notes I'm fretting; it's easy to play a whole solo using the octave harmonic if you want.

  14. 3fngrs

    3fngrs Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 30, 2017
    I mastered this many moons ago. Tried and tried and couldn't do it. Then one day I caught one by accident and was like "that's it?" From then on I've been able to do it effortlessly.

    Yes, I can do it on acoustic too. I think I've done it without a pick too. I'll have to try it again some time.

    I consider pinching harmonics one of the keys to my sound. Sometimes I'll pinch almost every note. Not real screamers, just hints of harmonics all over the place.

    I have a couple of other things that really make me sound like me too. I've been trying to break it all down and understand what I've been doing accidentally so I can keep the good stuff and get rid of the bad.

    I don't really worry about whether I sound like someone else. I've stolen licks and techniques from so many different places that I don't even know where it all came from anymore. It's all just a big amalgamation mixed with my own, personal licks at this point. I'm currently getting ready to start pilfering Keith Richards' catalog of licks to see what melts in and sticks!
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018 at 4:32 AM

  15. TwangyWhammy

    TwangyWhammy Friend of Leo's

    Jan 10, 2014
    Under the DownUnder
    Yes, I can do it - with or without a pick on the downstroke glanced by the side of the thumb. Being able to do this was compulsory if you were a rock lead player back in the 80s!

    I'm not exactly sure if that's what you mean by "pinch harmonics" though.

    Best place to pick it for me is approximately mid-way between the bridge and the fret being used. Three-quarters up is much nicer (higher octave harmonics) but not as easy to do on certain notes. Doing a note-for-note riff all in harmonics is doable but hit and miss sometimes.

    What I find hard to do is, with the picking hand - hammering down on the fretboard with the index finger and getting a harmonic on the release up stroke. I see other guys do this and it blows me away. Another way with the picking hand is to place the index finder on the string on the half node and flicking the string upwards with the thumbnail. I struggle with this technique because I only have one brain - it seems you need two brains and cross-eyed vision so you can see where the left fingers are going in relation to where your right fingers are positioned in order to ping the harmonics! :confused: I'm too old to be bothered to learn how to do that... :D


  16. Nightclub Dwight

    Nightclub Dwight Tele-Meister

    Aug 12, 2016
    I sort of love this!

  17. drmmrr55

    drmmrr55 Tele-Meister

    Aug 20, 2017
    Federal Way, Washington
    Myself, I just kinda stumbled on them quite by accident by choking up on the pick, and doing staccato mutes with the fat part of my hand. I found that sometimes the note played was a higher octave than intended. (so that's how Billy Gibbons did it!) Myself, I'm like you and can do them pretty much at will on any guitar, electric or not. BTW, I can get them at every fret, I don't know why, but I just find it very easy. Another poster was correct in that to do it, the side of your thumb MUST (very lightly), touch the string.

    They do sound better electrically with distortion, because they tend to sustain very well and with a vibrato....a shredders dream! To be honest I sometimes accidentally do them when I didn't intend to do so, but even when that happens, it usually sounds like you meant to play it that way.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018 at 4:38 AM

  18. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Ad Free Member

    May 10, 2003
    Near Milwaukee
    I play with a jazz pick or fingerstyle. It's pretty easy with the side of a pick (clean or dirty). I can do it with my fingers but not as pronounced as I can with a pick.

  19. bowman

    bowman Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2006
    Framingham, MA
    I never think about it. What occurs with me is that it'll happen by accident on some random note in the middle of playing a song, and then I'll start doing it deliberately at other points, and on other tunes that night. So yeah, I can do it, but it's never been a part of my regular technique.

  20. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 5, 2006
    Sinatra's World
    That’s pretty much my story exactly!
    TwangyWhammy likes this.

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