Harmonics 1

Animated Harmonics 1 tab by ActionTab on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

You will have seen this exercise at the beginning of the introduction video in the Core Skills section on harmonics.

Here we concentrate on learning the 3 most important natural harmonic positions on guitar:

12th, 7th & 5th Frets. In this exercise we do them on the high E string, but remember that these same harmonic positions will apply to any string.

Just like muting - Place your finger lightly upon the string (try touching the string just above the 12th fretwire), but do not fret it. Pick the string, and quickly remove your finger from the string / 12th fret. You should hear the harmonic. It will be high pitched, check the ActionTab if you are uncertain of the sound you should be getting from your harmonics.

In the ActionTab notice that the h dots don't appear in the middle of the fret like normal notes would - this is because these harmonics are played with your finger over the fretwire. Most natural harmonics occur over the fretwire (but not all)!

Notice that we use a different finger to play each harmonic. This is great practice, but if you are finding it too difficult, just start out by using your 1st finger to play each one until you can get them right. Then start learning to do the same technique with your other fingers.


If you are just getting the open string sound then you are touching the string too lightly. If you get a muted note you may not be releasing your finger quickly enough after you have struck the harmonic - or - you are touching your finger in the wrong place on the string. If you don't hit the 'sweet spot' you will just be muting the note! To find that sweet spot you have to be very precise - try again with your finger precisely over the fretwire. If that doesn't work, try again slightly further up / down from that point. Guitars can be different when it comes to intonation. Make sure to watch this part of the introduction video again if you are having problems...

What are the harmonics played on these frets?

12th fret: will always be an octave above open string, therefore the harmonic note here is E (+1 octave).

7th fret: This is B. This harmonic location will be higher sounding. It is an octave plus a 5th above the open note.

5th fret: Two octaves above open string - an even higher E note! (+2 octaves)

There are more harmonics than these, but these are the easiest to produce and the most audible. They are ordered from lowest to highest in pitch. If you don't know about scales or octaves, then don't worry, learning the skill to play harmonics is important enough for now. If you wish to learn more check out our music theory section.

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