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?

This is an example I have taken from the book


2 Answers 2


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 along 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 !

  • So, 2.7 means it's fret 2.7 in decimal notation?
    – PaulD
    Jan 1, 2019 at 14:04
  • 1
    @PaulD - exactly. Pretty close to three-quarters of the way to fret 3 from fret 2.
    – Tim
    Jan 1, 2019 at 16:03

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.

  • It won't suffice at these points - would one approximate 2.4 to 2, and 2.7 to 3? Both would be incorrect, and the natural harmonic needed wouldn't come out.
    – Tim
    Jun 6, 2018 at 10:22

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