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Electric Guitar Manual

How to Play Harmonics on Guitar: Different Types

How to Play Harmonics on Guitar: Natural, Artificial and with Chords. Types of Harmonics, Execution Technique and ✅ SITUATION ON THE NECK.

There are several types of harmonics on guitar:

  • Natural Harmonics: those achieved by playing the open strings, and stopping the vibration of the string slightly with a finger of the left hand if we are right-handed.
  • Artificial Harmonics: those achieved with the strings plucked at a fret, and stopping the vibration of the string slightly with a finger of the right hand if we are right-handed.
  • Harmonics with Chord: those achieved with the position of a chord placed on the fretboard.

Natural Harmonics Notation Guitar

Natural Harmonics have a bell-like sound, and are achieved by lightly stroking the string (without plucking), just enough to slightly stop the vibration, and then removing the finger after plucking with the right hand. We can achieve these harmonics in different parts of the fretboard, placing our finger just above the frets that allow it.

Natural Harmonics Notation Guitar

Notes that generate Natural Harmonics

The Chart below shows the situation of these harmonics, and the note they generate.

Natural harmonics notation chart guitar

Artificial Harmonics

Artificial Harmonics generate a screeching sound very characteristic of the distorted electric guitar. To achieve them we must slightly turn off the vibration of the string with the right hand, while plucking normally, or by bending.

In the image below we see how the guitarist plucks the string with his index finger, and with his thumb lightly touches the string so that the harmonic emerges. It’s kind of like a pinch.

Artificial Harmonics on Guitar

We can also play Harmonics on Guitar them with a plectrum, but this time we will reduce the vibration of the string with the back edge of the thumb.

Artificial Harmonics Guitar

These types of harmonics emerge strongly in the bridge position of the pickup selector, and with a good load of distortion.

If they don’t come out, it may be because your right hand is too far back or forward. You have to look for the exact point of placement of the right hand, until the harmonic emerges.

How to Play Harmonics on Guitar with Chords

In the image below we have the position of a G chord (left), and on the right is the position of the harmonics of those same notes, 12 frets in the direction of the guitar’s bridge, just in the situation of that same chord one octave higher.

harmonics with a chord: Chart

To play these harmonics we have to place a G chord with the left hand, and with the thumb (or index) finger of the right hand, we have to extinguish the note just above the fret that we want to sound, and pluck the string with the index finger.

For example, to have a G on the sixth string, we have to place the thumb lightly on the 15th fret (image below left), and pluck the string with the index finger. To have a D on the second string, we must do exactly the same and on the same fret (image below right). For the B you would have to do the same, but on the 14th fret, and for the D on the fourth string, on the 12th fret.

harmonics with a chord

This is a good resource, for example, to end a song in the key of G, throwing in a few harmonics with this posture. This way we will obtain a luxurious ending, similar to the sound of bells.

This system is valid for any chord.

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