Lessons > Pinch Harmonics

Pinch Harmonics

Pinch harmonics are a very unique form of harmonic that are distinct from natural or artificial harmonics. They are used mostly in rock music and heavy metal and are known for there distinctive high pitch squealing sound. The perfect spots to execute a pinch harmonic are between the bridge and fretboard but vary on different guitars and pickup combos.

Experimentation is required for pinch harmonics. Different strings require different motions. The thinner strings require a more delicate touch. Try out different pick and hand angles and always use downstrokes. Experiment with your guitar to find the so-called 'sweet spot'. You may want to start on the 4th string and turn up the gain and treble to make things easier.

Instruction:

  1. Fret any note on the 4th string.
  2. Find the spot on the 4th string just above the edge of the neck pickup (where fret 27 would be if there was one).
  3. Using a downstroke, pick the spot and follow through with the tip of the thumb, just clipping the string. Try to catch the string on the rebound from the pluck.

You will probably find the 'heavy metal' way of holding the plectrum the best. This consists of clamping the pick between the thumb and the side of your curled up index finger. As you curl the index finger notice the pick gets tucked closer into the wrist, allowing it to move with the wrist more naturally (don't curl too much the finger must stay relaxed). This method also leaves the tip of the thumb readily exposed and greatly increases the grip on the plectrum without the need for tensing up. You might want to try this method of holding the pick in your every day playing, give it some time; it will feel really weird at first.

The technique used to execute pinch harmonics can be difficult at first. Setting aside some of time to practise various techniques will pay off.