5th fret harmonics

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dory
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5th fret harmonics

Post by dory » Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:13 pm

I have found that my 5th fret harmonics are weaker than the others-- especially when I need to play more than one string. 7 th and 12 th fret harmonics are really easy and loud. Does anyone have good tips?
Dory

Briant
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Briant » Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:38 pm

You are not alone!
I find that accuracy and weight of placement of the LH fingers important.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Adrian Allan » Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:41 pm

I think playing ponticello helps.
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Kenro
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Kenro » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:01 pm

I had the same issue, I played an Almansa 413F and when I tried to play 5th fret harmonics, it did not sound quite clearly. I am not sure about this, but for the nylon-string guitar maybe the sound will come out more easily on an all-solid wood guitar than the solid top guitar? By the way I attempted to play 5th string harmonics on a steel string guitar and the sound came out, I guess it is easier to play 5th fret harmonics on a steel string guitar.
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guitareleven
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by guitareleven » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:08 pm

dory wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:13 pm
I have found that my 5th fret harmonics are weaker than the others-- especially when I need to play more than one string. 7 th and 12 th fret harmonics are really easy and loud. Does anyone have good tips?
(edited to remove inadvertent excessive underlining that lingered for several hours)

As one gets into higher and higher sounding harmonics (typically, but not necessarily located on lower and lower frets) one is actually dividing the string into vibrating sections. It's fairly intuitive that when one does a harmonic on the 12th fret, that the string is made to stand still at the 12 the fret, while the the string vibrates in two sections; from the nut to the 12th fret, and from the 12th fret to the bridge.

A seventh fret harmonic divides the string into three sections; from the nut to the 7th fret, from the 7th to the 19th fret, and from the 19th to the bridge. That the string is standing still at the 7th fret, where it is touched, is fairly obvious; it's something kinda interesting to have pointed out, when one is first essaying harmonics, that the string is also standing still at the 19th fret, where it is not touched. And, of the same interest that if the string is touched at the 19th fret and not the 7th, the same harmonic is heard as a result.

The points at which the string is standing still are called nodes, and as harmonics get higher, the string is being divided into more sections, and there are more nodes along the string length where the string will be, or should be, standing still. These nodes are, by default, easily avoidable for 12th and 7th fret harmonics, but a 5th fret harmonic introduces a node right about in the area where one habitually locates the right hand for playing. This means that one is more likely to be inadvertently trying to energize the string at the node point, which defeats ones purpose, and mitigates against the success of sounding the harmonic. So, one has to anticipate where a node point may be in the right hand section of the string, and avoid playing there. Of course, the need for this care is exacerbated as higher and higher sounding harmonics are emp0loyed, for which the the number of nodes keeps increasing. That is the basis for the rationale behind the earlier suggestion that ponticello hand location helps.
Last edited by guitareleven on Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:26 pm

Sor frequently calls for 3rd and 4th fret harmonics. I can play 4th fret harmonics (with difficulty), but rarely have succeeded in playing 3rd fret harmonics (neither the one above the 3rd fret nor the one below the 3rd fret). I know to play close to the bridge when playing difficult harmonics. I am using low-tension D'Addario Pro Arte strings at concert pitch. How did Sor do that?
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Rick Beauregard
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Rick Beauregard » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:26 pm

guitareleven wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:08 pm
dory wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:13 pm
I have found that my 5th fret harmonics are weaker than the others-- especially when I need to play more than one string. 7 th and 12 th fret harmonics are really easy and loud. Does anyone have good tips?
As one gets into higher and higher sounding harmonics (typically, but not necessarily located on lower and lower frets) one is actually dividing the string into vibrating sections. It's fairly intuitive that when one does a harmonic on the 12th fret, that the string is made to stand still at the 12 the fret, while the the string vibrates in two sections; from the nut to the 12th fret, and from the 12th fret to the bridge.

A seventh fret harmonic divides the string into three section; from the nut to the 7th fret, from the 7th to the 19th fret, and from the 19th to the bridge. That the string is standing still at the 7th fret, where it is touched, is fairly obvious; it's something kinda interesting to have pointed out, when one is first essaying harmonics, that the string is also standing still at the 19th] fret, where it is not touched. And, of the same interest that if the string is touched at the 19th fret and not the 7th, the same harmonic is heard as a result.

The points at which the string is standing still are called nodes, and as harmonics get higher, the string is being divided into more sections, and there are more nodes along the string length where the string will be, or should be, standing still. These nodes are, by default, easily avoidable for 12th and 7th fret harmonics, but a 5th fret harmonic introduces a node right about in the area where one habitually locates the right hand for playing. This means that one is more likely to be inadvertently trying to energize the string at the node point, which defeats ones purpose, and mitigates against the success of sounding the harmonic. So, one has to anticipate where a node point may be in the right hand section of the string, and avoid playing there. Of course, the need for this care is exacerbated as higher and higher sounding harmonics are emp0loyed, for which the the number of nodes keeps increasing. That is the basis for the rationale behind the earlier suggestion that ponticello hand location helps.


Best and most logical explanation of the reason why playing nearer the bridge improves "one's" harmonics. :merci:
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Alan Green
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Alan Green » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:50 pm

I had to play them in one of my Grade 7 pieces. 3rd, 4th and 5th fret harmonics are not directly above the frets. Experiment with slightly different positioning and you'll find them; however, they're not loud.

dory
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by dory » Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:10 pm

I am going to try to look around the fret to see if there is a point where the harmonic is louder. I am already playing near the bridge. The whole topic is fascinating. I appreciated the discussion of nodes.
Dory

dory
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by dory » Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:17 pm

BY the way, I have heard that some guitars have poor harmonics but my guitar does have a solid wood top and my teacher can get a loud 5th fret harmonic on it so the problem is with me. Not my instrument. I have heard that i some cases the problem is with the guitar-- especially guitars that have laminate tops but have no idea if I am right.
Dory

Palooza
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Palooza » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:42 pm

This is really interesting and particular thanks to guitareleven for such a clear explanation.

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andreas777
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by andreas777 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:08 pm

dory wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:17 pm
BY the way, I have heard that some guitars have poor harmonics but my guitar does have a solid wood top and my teacher can get a loud 5th fret harmonic on it so the problem is with me. Not my instrument. I have heard that i some cases the problem is with the guitar-- especially guitars that have laminate tops but have no idea if I am right.
My experience is that the quality of harmonics depend on the strings you use, so you could try a different set of strings (different brand, different tension, carbon vs nylon). It also depends on the guitar but far less than on the strings.
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: 5th fret harmonics

Post by Andrew Fryer » Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:52 pm

Got in-growing toenails? Change your strings!

Nodes will probably be the key to this - to summarise what has been said, fret 7 is a third of the way along the string, and there is another node at the two-thirds point. If you pluck the string there, you will get no sound.
Fret 5 is a quarter of the way along the string - there are nodes at fret 12 (half way, or two quarters) and a quarter of the way along the string from the saddle (three quarters of the way from the nut). If you pluck the string at any of these nodes, you will get no sound.

Pluck it anywhere half way between any two of these nodes. The closer to the saddle the safer, except that the tonality may suffer. Better to work out where to pluck the string between nodes, then plan and practise being in the right place at the right time.
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