Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top


I would like to get understood about the guitar harmonics notation. I was told decimal numbers in a tablature mean natural harmonics. Is that right? I would like to understand them. For example, what does (2.7) on third string means? What does (2.4) on second string means?

That one has to be an easy one. I just don’t trust Yahoo!® Answers or that kind of stuff, so you, professional people can guide me. A minimal example would be just fine. :) Thanks in advance.

This is an example I have taken from the book

share|improve this question
Check your quoted numbers in brackets in your question. – Tim Jul 8 '14 at 6:30

It appears to be the 'fret' number, just as you'd find in the rest of the tab. Except open harmonics start out over frets - 1st is at the 12th fret, an octave, but as the string gets divided more and more, the nodes become out of line with the guitar frets. The 6th harmonic is found over 'fret 2.7' and the 5th over 'fret 3.2'.This is obviously very close to where the fretting hand is working anyway, so convenient to play with just about any finger.

The '15va' gives the fact that the note heard is 2 octaves above the written note.So the 2nd string harmonic is a minor 7th note - A, and the third string harmonic is a P5, of G, which will be D (assuming there's no key sig. on the staff).

There are other places to touch an open string to get a same harmonic. Try the 3rd harmonic, found over 5th fret. There's the same one over the 24th fret. If you haven't got a 24th fret, it's often in line with the neck pup. Or work out where it would have been put.Just a quarter of the way alon the string - from each direction.

The numbers on the tab can be in diamonds too.

Edit: as it happens, Wikipedia has an expanded answer to mine, worth a read !

share|improve this answer

I have never before seen decimal numbers used to represent harmonics. Although harmonics are a natural consequence of dividing a string to a length corresponding to the position of a note in the harmonic series, I expect most players would find this form of notation technical and/or distracting. The truth is, there are many ways to notate music and especially in the case of guitar there is no real authoritative standard. The most common way to notate a natural harmonic is to use the diamond-shaped notehead seen in the above staff. If they must be represented in tablature, usually a fret number indicating the approximate position as well as the letters "N.H..." will suffice.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.