Guitar String Harmonics (Chimes)

Let's do a little experimenting!

Experiment 1

Play your bass E string open...this is called E, if your guitar is in tune : ) , or the Fundamental Frequency.

Now gently lay a finger tip on the bass E string directly over the 12 fret.  Don't press down on the string like you would do when actually playing it.  This will take a little practice finding just the right place and pressure but find how to get the loudest note.  You should hear something that sort of sounds like a chime.  This "chime" will be one octave higher than when you played the string open and it is called the Second Harmonic.  The note is still E.

Now apply the same light touch technique to the bass E string on the 5th fret.  You will now hear another E "chime" higher yet.

Now lightly touch the bass E string on the 7th fret.  You will hear a higher note B.

Experiment around on other frets.  You'll find other chimes as well.  Pretty cool, huh?

Do you notice anything else?  Yes, the notes have less volume as you play higher & higher harmonics.

This technique can be applied to any string on the guitar. 

Experiment 2

Play a chime on the 5th fret of your bass E string and then the 7th fret of your A string.  The notes should be the same.  If they are slightly out of tune, you will hear an oscillation or "beating".  Some guitarists like to use this method when tuning.  I find it works better on electric guitars than acoustics unless you're in a pretty quiet environment.  This procedure can be done again on the A & D strings, D & G strings, and B & high E strings.

On the G string, pluck the harmonic at the 9th fret and compare the harmonic on the B string at the 5th fret.

Experiment 3

Chimes are a really cool thing to discover and can add a lot of effects to your music.  Last thing to do for me is lower the tuning of your bass E string until it reaches one note lower, D.  Compare the sound to your D string to get it right.  The tuning of the bass E string will be an octave lower!  Don't accidentally tighten it.  Okay, this is now called Drop D tuning.  One of the many, many, tunings that sound really cool with chimes.  (Check my Tip # 7 for other tunings later.)  Now play a D chord and strum all 6 strings for a change.  Wow!  Now make your little finger straight and lay it across all the strings lightly at the 7th fret.  This will take a little practice to get it just right.  After experimenting around a while, I came up with THIS.

Bob, Gman ( o )==#

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