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Pinched Harmonics

David O' Toole (784) · [archive]
Style: Basics · Level: Intermediate · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1

Pinched Harmonics

Spinning Electric Guitar width=60 height=100

Pinched Harmonics are a great way to add to your pallette of sounds on the guitar. You can hear them in all styles of music from Rock to ... well Rock I s'pose :). Actually no it's found in many different styles of music - one top example comes to mind in the form of Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top for example.
The technique for making Pinched Harmonics sound, is a bit like riding a bicycle - once you get the hang of it the first time, it's easy enough after that :)!
Pinched Harmonics Technique
Fret a note with the left hand at the B string 10th fret to start things off. The right hand holds the pick at a slight angle to the string by bending the thumb in. Now, while picking between the middle and bridge area (eg on a Strat), let your thumb slightly touch the string just after the pick - it's almost at the same time but a millisecond later, and then immediately remove all right-hand contact with the string. Sort of sque-e-e-ze the note out of the guitar.
It's best to start learning this technique by using a distorted guitar sound - it makes it a whole lot easier. Use the Bridge pickup with lots of distortion, and experiment with moving your picking spot along the string between the bridge and middle pickup until you hear the "ping". This is the easiest place to start. When you get used to it you can use a cleaner sound too and move the picking spot around.

Here's a demo of the note picked in this way on the B string 10th fret. First on the demo you hear the note played as "normal", then pinched, then pinched as the picking hand is moved along the string (you can hear the harmonics changing but basically the note stays the same), and then a pinch/bend up, and finally a bend up string first/pick + pinch/then let down bend.

Music Note width=32 height=32 Pinched Note Demo

There are lots of possibilities and new sounds to be discovered using this technique, and it really opens up the fret board to a whole new range. Start using a whammy-bar to "drop" these pinched notes and you're into "dive-bomb" territory!

Here's a short atmospheric demo using a few Pinched Harmonics in the style of guitar maestro Jeff Beck. A clean sound is used here with some delay, reverb and compression. The pinched harmonics are most noticeable with these effects.

Music Note width=32 height=32Feel the Pinch

Hope you enjoyed it - don't forget, experiment, have fun, and don't fall off that bicycle :)!