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Mastering Lead Guitar - Pinch Harmonics and Vibrato Control

Apr 6, 2008
There are several techniques of playing a lead guitar but some of the more advanced techniques include mastering the natural and pinch harmonics and assuming a good control over vibrato.

Many lead guitarists can play the natural harmonics but there are some people who find it difficult to play pinch harmonics on their lead guitar. Natural harmonics, vibrato control and pinch harmonics can make your guitar sound different and the sound or pitch can vary from soft screams to harsh metallic depending on the kind of effect you want. The sound of the harmonic is almost similar to that of a bell and can be heard when you touch a particular string of your lead guitar at a specific fret bar.

Natural Harmonics

Natural Harmonics is as easy at it comes on the lead guitar because it takes place at different spaces all along a particular string and especially where one sine wave ends while a new one begins. It will not be wrong to say that natural harmonics are produced at particular string positions.

Pinch Harmonics

Pinch harmonics on the other hand used extensively in hard rock but more common in metal genres. Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen, both have used pinch harmonics extensively on their lead guitar to provide a signature sound that identifies them in a crowd of other lead guitarists. One of the tracks in which Steve Vai has used pinch harmonics effectively is called bad horsie. A clean way of doing the pinch harmonic will be to pinch a string on your lead guitar between one side of your thumb, which is holding your pick and the pick itself. Probably, one of the best ways to learn this advanced lead guitar technique is through cranking up the distortion. Once that is done, you can place the hand holding or playing the frets on the A string or the Low E on the 5th fret and even the 7th fret in such a way that it would seem like you are playing the D or the A note.

Some of the lead guitar legends who have extensively used pinch harmonics include Steve Vai, K. K. Downing (Judas Priest), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne) and the late Dimebag Darrell (Pantera).

Vibrato Control

Vibrato is considered to be one of the most expressive techniques on a lead guitar. Vibrato control is necessary to bring out the desired sound on your lead guitar playing, which will be able to cut across the boredom of playing the same tune. The best way of assuming control is by ideally starting with a wider range but slow to moderate speed vibrato. A fast vibrato is extremely effective too but then you can go out of tune and control if you are not well versed with playing it on your lead guitar. With vibrato, you always start slow and easy. The masters of vibrato control include Marty Friedman, John Petrucci, and Yngwie Malmsteen.
About the Author
E Walker is the founder of Planet of Rock Music Studios. Listen to samples of Free Guitar Backing Tracks at Planet of Rock today. Find out how they can bring your skills to the next level. Jam to over 1000 professional tracks. You are just One Click Away!
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