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Could someone tell me how to get the pinch harmonics sound during solos? Specifically on the "Wanted Dead or Alive" solo by Bon Jovi?

Is it an amp setting? Is it something I do with my left or right hand? Is it possible with a cheap practice amp and no effects pedal?

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Maybe a bit of a heavy handed edit, but I made your question a little more general -- about how to get feedback during solos as opposed just one specific song. –  Ian C. Feb 1 '11 at 17:23
Sorry, I'm kinda new here. Hope I didn't mess up too badly... :P –  Anonymous Feb 1 '11 at 18:12
The question is about feedback and you accept an answer about...pinch harmonics? The question and the answer now no longer match. –  Ian C. Feb 3 '11 at 5:13
@Ian, Samuel clearly used the wrong name for the sound he was hearing. Your edit to the question made the question more clear, but seems to have obscured the original intent of the question and caused the mismatch between Q&A to be bigger than is really the case. I would suggest an edit to the effect of, "I think it's feedback, but I could be wrong. What's the technique called if it's something else?" –  yossarian Feb 3 '11 at 14:50
Incidentally, that's the most common complaint about editing a question. What if you change the question so that it is "better" but it's not longer the question the OP was really asking? Seems to be what's happened here based on the accepted answer. –  yossarian Feb 3 '11 at 14:52

5 Answers 5

I think you're talking about pinch harmonics, there are a quite few in that solo. The way it was explained to me was that you touch the string with the thumb of your picking hand right after the pick hits the string. It's easier on string bends and on the neck pickup.

Here's a good lesson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I5O8P-r5Rk

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There's also a good question on the technique on the site already: music.stackexchange.com/questions/1394/… –  yossarian Feb 3 '11 at 14:55

Feedback starts with volume. Lots and lots of volume. You need to create a physical loop between your guitar and your amplifier: sound goes out of guitar, in to amp, out of speakers and the vibrating waves vibrate your guitar and it's strings which in turn goes back in to your amp and out of the speakers and...well...you get the point.

So start by turning that amp up.

Controlling the feedback is the next thing and the rub is: how you control it to produce a specific note is going to depend on the guitar and amp and the environment. It can change. But there are some basic techniques you can employ in every scenario. First, you'll want to mute all but one string. You can use a combination of right-hand palm mutes and left-hand string mutes to achieve this. But you want to make sure that just one string can vibrate freely. That'll let you home in on that long, singing, held note you're after.

Next you need to find the right string and fret position where good resonance starts to happen. This is going to differ for every guitar. I'd start by trying to play the note around the 9th fret area of the neck, and on one of the strings in the A-D-G-B range rather than the low E or high E string. With all the other strings muted, pick the note (lets say an E on 9th fret, A string) and hold it. Try pointing your guitar so the pickups are aimed right at that loud amp, and then move the guitar around until you can feel the body vibrate, stronger and stronger. That's the feedback loop amplifying as it moves through the closed system and the you get constructive interference in the vibrations in the body and the string.

It's going to take some practice, but eventually you should be able to pick any note and find the right way to angle your guitar at your speakers to have the feedback for that specific frequency build nicely.

I recommend hearing protection and sympathetic neighbours.

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Thanks, I'll try and work on that. And I've got earphones, so HOPEFULLY I won't blow out my eardrums... –  Anonymous Feb 1 '11 at 18:13
@Samuel: so you're going to have a hard time achieving this if you're not using speakers -- if you're just running your guitar through headphones. You need to be "moving air" with speakers, lots of air, to make feedback happen. But do use the headphones to lower the SPL of that blaring amplifier! –  Ian C. Feb 1 '11 at 18:23
Right, I thought about that right after I posted. And, sorry to sound stupid, but what do you mean by SPL? –  Anonymous Feb 2 '11 at 0:55
You don't need lots of volume or a high sound pressure level. Set the amp to a reasonable volume where the cabinet is shaking a little as you're playing, hit a chord, maybe an open A, and rest the headstock against the cabinet. The physical connection between the speaker shaking the cabinet, and the headstock shaking the neck will go a long way toward holding the notes. Usually one of the notes will start to feed back. Increase the volume a bit if it doesn't. Once it consistently holds a nice rumble you can start messing with other notes and learning to control it. –  Anonymous Feb 2 '11 at 3:11
@Samuel Andrew SPL = Sound Pressure Level. –  Ian C. Feb 2 '11 at 5:11

Pinch Harmonics - it is a tricky picking method that involves using the side of your pick, an extra subtle twist as you are picking, all coupled with a little more force behind your attack. There is no getting around the fact that you will need to try different angles as you are picking in order to see where the string reacts to the angle of attack, as well as moving the area of picking horizontally on the string itself (closer/further away from the bridge).

Angle of Attack Slightly heavier attack at the moment of impact between pick and string Sweet spot on string measured from the bridge Slight bending or aggressive vibrato while picking

I would listen to "Tush" - the second solo, and try to emulate the finesse between how a picking attack and left hand string bending work in unison to produce the little squeals of delight.

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Enygma is absolutely right on this! there is no feedback whatsoever on that solo! But it is packed with pinch harmonics! You can play these even on clean settings (even though they sound better with gain). The video however explains it pretty well...(Would have commented if I could...). One good advice though, To do these you should hold your pick so only the really end of the tip is visible. And make sure you pick at the right spot(Needs to be a harmonic there)

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I heard of the technique as "squealers". They're a big part of the Roy Buchanan style, but also a metal thing.

In essence, you're hitting a harmonic, like you would at the 5th or 7th fret, except you're using your picking thumb as the node instead of your fretting fingers. This does mean you'll have to use a thumb-and-index-finger pick-holding technique instead of the three-finger technique. Sorry about that. Hold the pick so very little of the pick is sticking out.

You can do it dead clean, or even with an acoustic, but the issue with harmonics is that the further you get from the fundamental, the less energy the harmonic gets, so you need to do things like string bending and using distortion or overdrive to get the note to stand out more.

This is very dependent on where you're hitting the harmonic, and the sweet spot is very dependent on what your fretting hand is doing, but in general, you should be able to get two harmonics that really go, one being closer to the bridge and the other closer to the neck pickup, but there should be some harmonic most anywhere above the pickguard.

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