High-pitched notes created by shortening the string's vibrating length

Sam Blakelock avatar
Written by Sam Blakelock
Updated over a week ago

Natural harmonics are created by lightly touching certain "sweet spots" on the fretboard – for example, the 12th, 7th and 5th frets. When you lightly touch the string directly above one of these frets and pick, you’ll hear a high-pitched note that’s created by shortening the string's length and vibrating wavelength.

Harmonics can also be created by fretting a note with the fretting hand (ex. 4th fret on the high E string), lightly placing the picking-hand index finger above the fret exactly 1 octave (12 frets) higher (ex. 16th fret on the high E string), and picking the string with the thumb or middle finger. This is called an artificial harmonic.

A third type of harmonics – called pinch harmonics – are achieved when the pick is pressed hard into the strings with a bit of picking hand thumb hitting the string right after the pick. This creates a whistling harmonic noise common in rock and metal.

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