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I sometimes hear sequences of fast (fairly random but in a general descending pattern) harmonics played on guitar and can't really figure out how it's done. I've tried tremolo picking the string while sliding over the frets with a light touch, but it doesn't really give the same result.

The clearest example I can think of is this song: (unfortunately, it happens at roughly the 1 minute mark, just as the video portion cuts out so we don't see what he actually plays...)

Edit: This 2nd video of a cover shows someone doing it without using the pick:

Any tips would be appreciated!

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What you described is exactly how I'd expect it to be done- in most cases. But this track sounded a bit different to me, so I did some searching. I found a fan cover which replicates the sound quite closely.

I don't know if this technique has a name, as it's brand new to me. But, you can see that the "harmonic" sound comes from a pick slide on the low "E" string, and the rhythmic element comes from a series of hammer-ons/pull-offs on a different ("A", in this case) string. High gain will really help.

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  • This is a new technique to me too. It seems that creating a node with the narrow edge of the pick gives access to higher-order harmonics than would be possible with a fingertip (where the thickness of the finger ends up muting).
    – Theodore
    Apr 6, 2023 at 13:41
  • Sliding on a different string doesn't seem to work when I try it. Sliding on the same string gives a vaguely similar result. The other cover (in my question edit) seems to do it by sliding a finger across the hammered-on string.
    – Alexbib
    Apr 7, 2023 at 17:20
  • You know what, there might not be a pick slide involved at all. My answer could be wrong here. I haven't actually tried this on my guitar yet.
    – Edward
    Apr 8, 2023 at 0:24
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Harmonics occur on guitar when the string is split into smaller portions. Such as the well-known 12 fret node, making a note an octave higher than the open string. This is a similar technique, but instead of using a finger or thumb to produce the node (still point), it uses the pick, which touches the string at various points as it slides down the string, thus making lots of different harmonics as it goes. Lots of distortion or overdrive will enhance their sound, as those increase the ability for harmonics to be audible - something a clean sound doesn't do easily.

The pick does this by simultaneously vibrating the string (rubbing its windings) and touching at various nodes on the way.

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