Posted by Bob 'Skippy' Blechinger on December 12, 2000 at 07:35:38:

In Reply to: help with harmonics posted by Denny on December 11, 2000 at 17:37:45:

: I need so much help with harmonics..I don't understand them at all

Denny,

It's mathematical.

To *play* a harmonic, just touch the string lightly at a point like the 5th, 7th, or 12th fret, and pluck the string; it'll give you a tone that's an octave (12th), a fifth above the octave (7th), or 2 octaves (5th) above the string's regular pitch.

That's really all there is to it! :-)

On any vibrating string, there are a series of points that are certain fractions of the string length (i.e., 1/2, 1/4, etc.) that will allow a string to vibrate at a higher frequency that's a multiple of the orignal frequency.

If you were to look at it from the side, you'd see X number of vibrating areas, with at least one point that looks like it's not vibrating. I'll represent these with 0's, since I don't have graphics available (although a physics or math textbook should have an illustration). The finger point will be represented with a ^ symbol, and the null point will be represented with a -.

The full string length will vibrate at a given frequency - 0

At the halfway point, the frequency will be twice the original (an octave) - 0^0

At the 1/3 point, it'll be 3 times the original (octave + 5th) - 0^0-0

At the quarter point, it'll be 4 times the original (2 octaves) - 0^0-0-0

And so on.

You can also hit a point like 3/8 of the string length, which will give you the same result as 1/8 - 0-0-0^0-0-0-0-0

Does that make a little more sense now? Try it on your bass; it works better looking at it like that.

Hope that helps!

-Bob