Similar to an electric guitar, the bass guitar has the capability to produce bell-like notes or slightly distort high-pitched squeals. To create the harmonics, musicians use harmonic techniques. In this article, we will guide you on three of the more common methods to play harmonics on the bass guitar.
Find the harmonic first! The 7th and 12th frets tend to be the easiest frets to do with this technique, so we can start with them. Choose either.
Place your finger lightly overtop the fret, just enough to get in touch with the string. Note that you are in fact over the fret itself and you have to put your finger where you would hold the string down as if normally fretting it.
Pluck the string with your picking hand, using your thumb or a pick. Adjust your fret hand pressure and placement until you get a satisfying harmonic note.
Practice a quick release. Once you’ve found the placement that gives you the strongest and clearest harmonic sound on the fretboard, practice releasing your finger from the string as quickly as possible after picking it to get the harmonic ringing. You’re done!
Produce Harmonics Using Your Thumb
You hold down the 1st fret when applying this technique. This method involves holding down the strings in the usual way and concentration is on the picking hand. For ease of practice, let’s start with holding down the first fret of whichever string you select.
Focus on the 13th fret. Previously the 12th fret gives us the desired harmonic but since the 1st fret is held down, it will now move down to the 13th. Place your thumb of the plucking hand overtops the fret using the same basic rules as the method mentioned above.
Use the remaining fingers of your picking hand: first, second, or third finger, and pluck the string while your thumb stays motionless. Adjust the thumb placement if needed.
Practice how to release the string. Similar to the previous method, once the satisfying harmonic is found, immediately release the string on your finger as soon as the string is plucked to create a bell sound.
Produce Harmonics with a Pick
Hold the pick/ plectrum so as to have only a small portion of it sticking out between your fingers.
Hold down the first fret of whichever string you choose.
Pluck the strings on the 13th fret and mute the string with the side of your thumb at the same time.
Good luck with harmonics!