Tap Harmonics (Guitar Lesson)

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David Anthony

Tap Harmonics

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

Taught by David Anthony in Tips and Tricks seriesLength: 24:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (08:34) Introduction to Tapping Take some time to review the previous lessons in this series before diving into the current lesson. Thus far, you have learned how to perform natural harmonics. These are the most common type of harmonics used by string players. David has demonstrated how these harmonics can be applied to a musical context. Natural harmonics can be applied to an arpeggiated chord progression as you learned in the previous lesson. They can be used on their own at the 12th and 5th frets as a substitution for a basic open Em chord. Lastly, natural harmonics are frequently added to a technique know as the string rake. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the information presented in the previous lessons, feel free to contact David Anthony or any of the Jamplay instructors.

I. Notation of Harmonics

Note: Open "Harmonics and Tab" in the "Supplemental Content" tab for examples of notated harmonics.

A. Natural Harmonics

A natural harmonic is typically indicated in tablature by placing the appropriate fret number in brackets. The abbreviation “N.H.” is written above this note. In standard notation, this abbreviation also appears. A harmonic is notated on the staff by a note head that is shaped like a diamond.

B. Tapped Harmonics

Tapped harmonics are written the same way as natural harmonics in standard notation. Typically, a "+" symbol is used in the notation to indicate that the harmonic should be tapped. In tablature, the fret location of where the right hand tap should be performed is written in parentheses. The note that is fretted with the left hand is written beside this note outside of the parenthesis. The fretted note is always 12 frets lower than the tapped pitch.

II. Why Are Tapped Harmonics Used?

Natural harmonics can only be used to sound pitches that are neither sharp nor flat. For example, you cannot produce an Ab by performing a natural harmonic. Using tap harmonics, you can sound a harmonic on any of the 12 pitches in the chromatic scale.

David applies this concept to an Ab chord. Tapped harmonics are most commonly used to outline chord arpeggios. You wouldn't want to add a natural harmonic to this chord, because the pitch of the natural harmonic would clash horribly with the notes in the Ab chord. However, using tap harmonics, you can produce a harmonic pitch that is a note contained within the Ab chord.

III. Tapping with an AMI7 chord

David introduces tapping concepts within the context of a fifth position AMI7 chord. This chord is an excellent choice to start with, because all of the notes in the chord occur along the 5th fret. If you are unfamiliar with this chord, check out David Anthony's Phase 1 lesson pertaining to MI7 chord shapes. You can also access a fretboard diagram of this chord under the "upplemental Content" tab. This particular chord voicing is a movable shape with the root note on the sixth string.

Begin by performing a tapped harmonic on the D string. The left hand is fretting the note G with the second finger at the 5th fret. The harmonic is produced on this same string with the right hand index finger. Smack the fretwire of the 17th fret of the G string to produce the harmonic.

Note: Like David mentions, a tapped harmonic can be produced at either five, seven, or twelve frets up from the note fretted with the left hand. However, the harmonic that occurs 12 frets up from the initial fretted note is the only one that is typically used. Harmonics that are five or seven frets up from the note fretted by the left hand produce a weak, quiet tone.

A. Right Hand Technique

Use the pad of any right hand finger to smack the fretwire. Since the pinky finger is rather weak, it is seldom used to produce a tapped harmonic. Do not plant the right hand finger on the fretwire once you have tapped it. As soon as you have tapped the harmonic, quickly release the right hand finger from the string.

Chapter 2: (04:55) Another Tapping Exercise In this scene, David presents some exercises that will get you acquainted with tapped harmonics.

Exercise 1

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for tablature to this exercise.

Exercise 1 gives you practice producing tapped harmonics in conjunction with notes fretted by the left hand at the 5th fret. This exercise is divided into three sections. The first section indicates that the harmonic should be tapped 5 frets up from the root note. The harmonics in the second section are played 7 frets up from the root. Harmonics are produced 12 frets above the root in the third section. Devote extra practice to the third section.

Chapter 3: (10:53) More Tapping Practice Exercise 2

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for tablature to this exercise.

The second exercise features a chromatic riff in the left hand. Practice the chromatic riff by itself before you begin to include the tapped harmonics. Isolating and mastering the left hand portion of the exercise will make the right hand portion much easier when you get to it. Remember that the tapped harmonic occurs twelve frets above the fretted note. Practice this exercise very slowly to begin with. Focus on creating loud and clear harmonics. If you have a problem sounding a particular harmonic, isolate the harmonic and practice it repeatedly.

Exercise 3

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for tablature to this exercise.

Exercise 3 demonstrates how tapped harmonics can be applied to an arpeggiation of a chord. As mentioned earlier, tapped harmonics are usually applied to arpeggio shapes. Play the exercise with harmonics and without them to compare the differences in tone.

This exercise outlines a DMI7 chord in fifth position. Apply tapping harmonics to other chords in your vocabulary. Also, use this technique in the context of chord progressions that you have learned.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

ingridshevkuningridshevkun replied on July 28th, 2008

Man, I can't do those. I have a classical guitar that (obviously) has only 18 frets (the 18th is TOTALY the last one). It also sux because even if I try hard, I can't produse a good tap harmonic. Any suggestions?

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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