While using distortion on my electric guitar, when I press and release a bar chard (Power chord in drop D), a harmonic noise comes up. I tried lightly touching in between in two frets and played the string, and figured out that this is the same noise that comes up with a normal chord.

How can a harmonic sound come up when I am not even touching the fret? And how can I reduce this?

here is a link to the audio clip I recorded: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BxQJtUzLDahTw0L0RZx82LweGCNQjSjp/view?usp=sharing

I use a schecter omen solo-6.


How can a harmonic sound come up when I am not even touching the fret?

Because (as Tim says), that's exactly how a harmonic is played - by touching the string so that it can't move at that point but the rest of the string can move, it can vibrate in any 'mode of oscillation' where that particular point doesn't need to move - e.g. the centre point in this diagram:

second harmonic

how can I reduce this?

By muting the string at more than one point along its length. Clean muting can often be achieved by muting with your left and right hand at the same time (e.g. with the side of your right hand, if your fingers are busy picking). It also helps to "mute wide" - touch as long a chunk of the string as possible when you mute. This prevents unwanted modes of oscillation from getting though.


To produce harmonics on guitar, you don't have to touch a fret. In fact, if you do, you won't produce a harmonic. Harmonics are produced when a string is touched at a node point, where it actually won't vibrate while the harmonic sounds. The process is made much more audible when distortion/overdrive is used.

What's happening is that as you release, your finger/s stay at that exact point on the string for a fraction of a second too long - the string is free to vibrate with that harmonic, without being muted or dampened.

It's almost a tapped harmonic. Try, with an open string, tapping on the twelfth fret, very briefly. That harmonic will sound. You didn't pluck it, but it still moved. Try it on fret 11 - nothing happens, because there's no node there.

To alleviate the problem, as your finger/s let go, slide slightly up or down - a centimetre will do - before finally letting go of the string. You could also try muting the string/s with the picking hand, taking care not to touch at another node!

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