Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
amezcua
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Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by amezcua » Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:23 pm

I am looking for detailed advice about the best plucking position on a string to achieve good harmonics. On a violin I remember Maud Powell advising to use her bow very near the bridge . I think the bow was tilted to give a very narrow hair contact about 1/8th inch wide rather than a full width hair which is six times as wide. Harmonics depend on nodes as the string is divided by vibrations so plucking at a node will upset the brief sound a guitar makes . So where should the guitar be plucked and does the point change depending on which harmonic you want ?

msa3psu
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by msa3psu » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:26 pm

I was taught to pluck as close to the anti-node as possible; e.g. if stopping the fundamental tone at the 12th fret to sound the first overtone, pluck half way between the 12th fret and saddle because that is the maximum amplitude of the vibration (anti-node) for the 1st overtone. Stopping at the fifth fret gives the 3/2 relation to the fundamental or second overtone so nodes are at one third and two thirds distance between the fifth fret and saddle so pluck halfway between two thirds distance and the saddle or halfway between one third and two third distance. This is theoretical but in practice on most guitars, I find that just being sure to not pluck too close to a node of the sounding harmonic is sufficient. I think that the technique used for stopping the string at the node of the lower partial (i.e., the left hand or the right index finger in the case of "artificial" harmonics) is more important to getting a good sound than the plucking point to cause the string to vibrate. You try to contact the string along as small a length as possible and release immediately. I used to use the ball of the pad of my finger tip and a rather straight finger but now I'm getting better control by using the tip and curved finger.

msa3psu
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by msa3psu » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:41 pm

me again. sorry my fifth fret example above is of course incorrect. this is meant to be 7th fret harmonics an octave and fifth above the open string. The node is half way between the 7th fret and saddle so pluck halfway between that node and saddle. Plucking at the node (19th fret) gives only a thump.

Rasputin
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by Rasputin » Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:04 pm

If you imagine turning the fretboard around so that the nut was where the saddle is and the frets ran the opposite way, the nodes near the bridge would be in exactly the same place as the harmonics you can find near the nut. A distance of one fret seems to be safe generally - a bit more for the treble strings. I agree with msa3psu though that the plucking point is not the most important thing. In theory there is a node at every point along the string, but in reality most of them are so weak they can be ignored. You can use the same principle further away from the bridge - if you ask yourself whether there is a harmonic the same distance from the saddle as your RH is from the bridge, that will tell you whether you are over a significant node. It may help to remember that the distance from the saddle to the 19th fret is the same as the distance from the nut to the 7th fret - so if your RH was over the 19th, the question would be whether you would get a harmonic at the 7th, and the answer would obviously be yes, meaning that you are over a node. It may be easier to judge where, say, the 5th fret harmonic would be if you visualise it this way.

In reality I think a bit of experimentation is the best way to find out what works.

amezcua
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by amezcua » Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:18 pm

There is a very useful diagram on Images that eludes me today but it shows a fretboard image superimposed on string nodes and antinodes. The important point showed the nodes nearest to the bridge in all cases do not extend much beyond the end of the fretboard. The string divisions were --Whole string--Division by 2 at the Octave--Division by 3 at 7th fret-- Division by 4 at 5th fret .All those nodes reach no further than the fretboard end.Division by 5 from the 4th fret only just reaches into the soundhole area.
So it`s not physically as tricky as I expected .
What aspects of harmonic playing are the most difficult ? Reading formal musical notation does not become easy when Villa Lobos harmonics are on the page. This is where Tabs are especially useful . Good practice for getting players higher than the 12th fret with one of his most popular pieces . Edit here-- I think I mixed up the Villa Lobos Prelude 1 (to get practice above the 12th fret ) and Prelude 4 which has lots of Harmonics .
Last edited by amezcua on Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rasputin
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by Rasputin » Sat Mar 10, 2018 4:05 pm

amezcua wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:18 pm
There is a very useful diagram on Images that eludes me today but it shows a fretboard image superimposed on string nodes and antinodes. The important point showed the nodes nearest to the bridge in all cases do not extend much beyond the end of the fretboard. The string divisions were --Whole string--Division by 2 at the Octave--Division by 3 at 7th fret-- Division by 4 at 5th fret .All those nodes reach no further than the fretboard end.Division by 5 from the 4th fret only just reaches into the soundhole area.
Not true - there is a node corresponding to division by 4 five frets back from the bridge (imagining the frets running backward as I described above) - this is past the end of the fretboard. Division by 5 would be still closer to the bridge, obviously. How close to the nut can you find harmonics worth speaking of? Certainly within a couple of inches. Those same harmonics also exist the same difference from the bridge - the whole thing is symmetrical.

amezcua
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by amezcua » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:50 pm

The ones I mentioned don`t extend far past the fretboard. I was interested to see the harmonic fretted at the end of the fretboard in one diagram . Where would I find a page with Tabs and node diagrams for all harmonics ? But no back to front guitars . That idea did not come through very clearly .

Rasputin
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by Rasputin » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:56 pm

Surely you can rotate the fingerboard in your mind's eye (?) The gap from saddle to the 17th is the same as the gap from the nut to the 7th fret. There is a double octave where the fifth fret would be - so a couple of inches over the fingerboard, and a compound third an inch or so past that. Then you are into higher partials, but even the higher partials can be quite clear near the nut / saddle.

astro64
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by astro64 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:58 pm

Just think about the string dividing into equal sections. E.g. for the harmonic at the 12th fret, the string is divided in 2 equal sections. For the 7th fret harmonic, in 3 equal sections. For the 5th fret harmonic it is in 4 equal sections. Etc. The sections are separated by nodes, so you don't want to pluck the string there. You want to pluck it midway between the nodes. So for the 5th fret harmonic, a good place is 1/8th the string length from the bridge. For the 7th fret harmonic you want to be about 1/6th string length out from the bridge.

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prawnheed
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by prawnheed » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:10 pm

Where you find the harmonics with the left hand is one thing and, as pointed out, they are at the points which are divisions of the string into equal parts.

As to where you should pluck with the right hand, like with any other note, it depends what tone you are aiming for as plucking nearer a node will give a different tone from plucking nearer an anti-node.

astro64
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by astro64 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:59 pm

prawnheed wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:10 pm
Where you find the harmonics with the left hand is one thing and, as pointed out, they are at the points which are divisions of the string into equal parts.

As to where you should pluck with the right hand, like with any other note, it depends what tone you are aiming for as plucking nearer a node will give a different tone from plucking nearer an anti-node.
Agreed. The mid-point is a good place to start and that is where it may be easiest to get the harmonic to sound but timbre variations are possible just like for regular notes.

amezcua
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Re: Harmonic Plucking Point(s). Right hand Focus.

Post by amezcua » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:35 pm

A harmonic has a harmonic timbre surely . Would a harmonic sound very different if you plucked right next to the bridge ? But generally a fairly safe plucking position is at the low edge of the soundhole. How about that , to get me out of trouble ? There may be a few nodes happening under my elbow . For a non expert would you drag in the most obscure examples straight away ?

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