If you've ever heard a bass player get a clear, ringing sound out of their bass that sounds like a bell chime, you can bet that it was a Harmonic.
To play one, you simply place your finger on the string at any of a number of "nodes" and pluck the string. You have to make sure that your finger is making contact with the string, but not pushing down to the point that you are making contact with the fingerboard or frets.
There are a number of very "Clear" nodes on the bass. The frets where the nodes are the clearest are the fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth, and 12th.
If you want to get them to ring out more easily, simply increase the treble and reduce the bass on the EQ settings. As well, try to keep the bridge pickup on more prominently than the neck pickup (On a Jazz Bass) and play closer to the bridge. This makes it so that the overtone series, and the Harmonic, is cleaner, clearer and more vibrant.
The reason that this happens is because when you divide the string with your finger in the way that you do with this technique or a typical note, you are effectively cutting the string off at that point, stopping the string from ringing past your finger. The fret or fingerboard serves to stop the string from ringing as well. When you play at certain points, the string is actually divided in a certain ratio that allows the overtone series to ring much more clearly, dividing the string into ratios that bring out a certain color of the series much clearer than the rest.
If you want the harmonic to ring more clearly, try to pull your finger off of the string as soon as you hear it start to ring. This way, you wont accidentally hit the string at another location and cause it to stop ringing.
Did you know that you can also Slide Them?
Have you tried to play an Artificial Variation?
you should read those articles and lessons as well to get an idea of how to do those after you master this.
Return to the Various Techniques page from the Natural Harmonics page
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