Rakes and Harmonics (Guitar Lesson)


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David Anthony

Rakes and Harmonics

David Anthony explains a technique known as string rakes. He explains how rakes may be used with harmonics.

Taught by David Anthony in Tips and Tricks seriesLength: 15:30Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (4:16) Lesson Introduction In the previous lesson, David demonstrated some exercises that help with production of natural harmonics. He expands upon natural harmonics in lesson 4 by combining them with a technique called a “string rake.” Do not proceed to the rest of this lesson before you have mastered all of the exercises discussed in Lesson 3.

What Is a String Rake?
String Rakes are played in order to give a heavy accent to the note(s) that follows them. They are noted as “x’s” in a musical score. As a result, the left hand fingers will mute strings marked with an “x”. Use a finger that is not used to fret the subsequent note to mute the strings. When performing a rake, the pick quickly drags across the muted strings. A rake can be performed in an upward or downward motion. In this lesson, all rakes are played in a downward direction.

Rakes are played as grace notes. Grace notes are the half-sized notes that are frequently written in musical scores. Grace notes are not counted. They are to be played as rapidly as possible as part of the beat that they precede.

Many confuse the rake technique with sweep picking. There are a few distinct differences between the two techniques. A sweep picking passages always receives some sort of rhythmic value. Rakes are never counted. A rake consists of one drag of the pick in one direction. In sweep picking, the pick still drags across the strings, but it may change directions several times.

Note: For more information regarding sweep picking, check out Matt Brown’s Phase 2 Rock series as well as Brad Henecke’s technique lessons.

Instead of raking across muted strings, you can also rake through a fretted chord. In this scenario, the root note of the chord is typically accented at the end of the rake. A lick from the introduction to Metallica’s “One” demonstrates this concept perfectly. David applies this concept to an Em chord shape on the treble strings. He demonstrates how to perform a rake with this chord at 3:15.

When performing a rake, do not fret the chord through the entire process. After picking a string, immediately lift up the left hand finger that is fretting it. This will prevent each string from ringing continuously. Let only the final, accented note ring. Otherwise, the rake will sound like a slow, deliberate strum of a chord.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for tablature to this lick.
Chapter 2: (11:25) Rakes and Harmonics When harmonics are used in the context of a rake, the left hand technique is slightly altered.

Begin with a natural harmonic rake at the 12th fret. The rake is performed across the D, G, and B strings. The accented note is the harmonic on the 12th fret of the high E string. When performing this rake, leave your left hand finger on the strings until the final note on the high E string is plucked. After this note is plucked, quickly remove the left hand finger from the strings. This will result in the loudest and clearest harmonics possible.

Don’t get frustrated if you do not succeed on the first try. This technique is best learned through with time and repetitious practice. It’s ok if the harmonic doesn’t sound at first. To begin with, focus all your attention on mechanics and technique. Then, shift your attention towards sounding loud, clear harmonics.

Once you feel comfortable playing the technique at the 12th fret, move on to the more difficult, lower frets on the guitar. Practice this technique at the 9th, 7th, and 5th frets as well.

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Member Comments about this Lesson

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pete81pete81 replied on November 15th, 2015

Cool, thanks. Was not sure what this meant as I was learning some tab. Great explanation

Tips and Tricks

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Every guitarist gets to a point where he/she wishes to add his/her own touch to songs. Basic techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, rakes, and harmonics are a great way to put an original spin on the music you play.



Lesson 1

Intro to Lesson Series

David Anthony introduces the Tips and Tricks lesson series.

Length: 4:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Basics of Harmonics

David explains the basics of natural harmonics.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Cool Harmonic Exercises

David Anthony teaches a basic harmonic exercise. The exercise is modeled after "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica.

Length: 10:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Rakes and Harmonics

David Anthony explains a technique known as string rakes. He explains how rakes may be used with harmonics.

Length: 15:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Harmonic Exercise

David Anthony teaches a beautiful harmonic exercise. This exercise is a short piece that is great for building harmonic skills.

Length: 15:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tap Harmonics

David Anthony covers the basics of tap harmonics. He demonstrates an exercise that will help you with this technique.

Length: 24:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Slap Harmonics and Open Tuning

In this action packed lesson, David Anthony teaches slap harmonics and CGDGAD tuning.

Length: 15:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

More Slap Harmonics

David demonstrates a new exercise involving slap harmonics.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Harp Harmonics

David introduces harp harmonics.

Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Harp-Slap Harmonic Jam

David Anthony brings harp and slap harmonics together in a practical, musical exercise.

Length: 10:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

More Harp Harmonics

David returns to the world of harp harmonics. Once again, this lesson uses an alternate tuning.

Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About David Anthony View Full Biography David Anthony was born on November 9th, 1982, in the small town of Mount Hope, NY. As a child he absorbed the church flavored musical environment that his parents provided. With this influence he realized at a young age that music would not simply be a passive experience for him. It was not until the age of 15 that he decided to string up his first guitar. Relying solely on his father for his foundational chord knowledge, he quickly became enamored with the possibility of endless melodic structures, and the goal of becoming a fantastic player himself.

His early shredder influences came from Kirk Hammet of Metallica. During his first few years of guitar playing, he developed a very workable knowledge of pentatonic, major and minor scales. Over the years his musical interests swayed from rock to standards, from jazz to classical, and a strong love of the art of flamenco guitar; Spanish finger style. It was not until the age of 18 that he decided to surround himself entirely with the music of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. This influential exclusivity enabled him to learn more about thinking outside of the musical box. In one year he had learned than in the prior 3 years. Picking up multiple ways to structure melodies, create chords and use different modes, his writing and improvisational abilities grew exponentially. In his senior year of high school, he was responsible for the development of the first Musical Appreciation class in the schools history, and had aided the instructor in the teaching of those classes.

After high school, his focus started to rest mainly in writing. With this he realized that he would need additional, abstract influences to develop a unique style of writing. After a couple more years of playing in a small band, and writing some decent material, he greeted 2004 with a move to Nashville, TN. There he found the exact influence that would change his opinion of the guitar forever. Attempting to weed out a strong foundation in shredding and solo techniques, he began learning finger style guitar, and quickly realized the options that his door would open for him.

As he picked up more complex chord structures and jazz scales, his style became a passion for him that continues to drive him and push him to learn more. He feels strongly about the connection between musical input and the music you write. He notes that his subconscious pool of influence, developed from the music he listens to, is almost directly responsible for the type of music that he writes. He adamantly believes that in order to create a unique, soulful style, the pool must remain unpolluted by substandard music. What's that mean? As David puts it, "If you don't want to play crap, don't listen to crap."

David currently teaches Jazz guitar in Fort Collins, Colorado, with plans to move back to Nashville in the spring to pursue a career in writing.

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