Surprise Your Listener With Bass Harmonics

in Bass Lessons/Bass Technique/Musical Vocabulary

Jaco Pastorious was notorious for dropping unexpected ear-shattering bass harmonics seamlessly into his bass grooves. These bass harmonics often sustained on the high strings, while maintaining the bass groove on the lower strings.

Crank up your pickup’s mids and learn how to execute devastating bass harmonics chords that will shock your listener’s ears!

Create Devastating Bass Harmonics Chords

Before you begin to attempt to execute playing bass harmonics on your bass guitar the way Jaco Pastorious did, be sure to keep these 5 tips in mind:

  1. Crank up the mids on your pickups. This will allow your bass harmonics to effortlessly ring and sustain clearly! If you have the ability to select which pickup you can use, turn up the pickup that is closest to the bridge.
  2. Pluck your bass string close to the bridge. You will find that the closer you pluck to the bridge, the clearer your bass harmonics will ring.
  3. Keep your fretting light. Once the bass harmonic is sounded, you no longer need to leave your fretting finger there. This will free up your fretting hand to continue maintaining the notes of the original bass groove on the lower strings! Curve your fingers while playing the bass groove on the low strings. This will allow the higher strings to continue to sustain the bass harmonics you just played.
  4. Pay close attention to the location of your fretting finger. A slight shift can produce an entirely new bass harmonic note. The bass harmonics chart below shows you the exact location of your fretting finger.
  5. Satisfy your Resolution Points! Focus the rhythmic placement of your bass harmonics on the Resolution Points specific to the music in order to maintain and propel your bass groove.

Bass Harmonics Chart:

This chart has been updated as of 07.16.2013:  

  • More accurate finger placement from the previous version!
  • Overall look and design has been improved. This Bass Harmonics Chart is much better to look at!
  • Additional tips for playing accurate natural bass harmonics have been included! 

Download your accurate bass harmonics chart here »

There are more natural bass harmonics. However, the ones shown in this chart show you the bass harmonics that will ring the most clearly and easily. Notice the logic of the fretboard and when the bass harmonics begin to repeat itself.

Once you are familiar with the logic of these natural harmonics, you can create your own chord voicings!

It helps to keep the chord voicings to 2-note or 3-note voicings on the high strings, leaving the lower bass strings available to continue to play the bass groove.

*Although not every note on the chromatic scale is available, you can still play or imply almost any chord with these notes alone!

Accurate Bass Harmonics Chart
Updated, More Accurate Bass Harmonics Chart

Download your accurate bass harmonics chart here »

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