Putting “Pinch Harmonics” or “Squealies” in terms you understand is easier to do than say. Technically speaking this is the closest I could get to explaining this subject.

Realistically speaking, this is a fairly advanced technique, it takes me a year to get proficient at playing something such pinch harmonics. I usually stumble through it before I’m capable of playing said exercise very well, and I practice it everyday for 10 or 15 minutes. It sounds like crap in the beginning, but by the time I’m ready to use the technique, I’m fairly good at it from practicing it for a while already.

Note: One of my practice techniques has been to bite off a more advanced piece than I can chew. I then play it and practice it religiously until my wife can tell me what I’m playing. The ‘big bites’ are frustrating in the beginning, but extra gratifying when you need the technique, by then it is not a foreign subject to you.

Watch this video first, it details the nuances of performing ‘pinch harmonics’.

Steps For Electric Guitar

  1. For Electric Guitar
    • Set your guitar to the bridge pickup.
    • Hold down any fret, on any string.
    • Choke up on your pick so there is only about a half or quarter centimeter showing.
    • Pick the note, but barely brush your thumb across the string as you pick it (in one motion).
    • Put a nice vibrato on the note (optional)
  2. For Finger Picking Electric or Acoustic
    • Place your hand on the strings
    • Hold down the desired fret
    • With your thumb, barely place the knuckle on the top of the string
    • With the finger that is picking it, pluck the note fast.
    • Remove thumb quickly and enjoy

Tips

  • Keep practicing, move around to hit the pitch you like. The bottom 3 strings will give you more of a high-pitched squeal, but if you want squeals like in Lamb of God’s “Laid to Rest” you will be hitting the top 3 strings.
  • More distortion makes it easier, and can help a lot in the early stages when you’re learning the motions. As you feel more confident, turn back the distortion a bit to hone your skills.
  • More distortion tends to create a more full-sounding squeal. A squeal done with minimal distortion will not have any sustain, and will die very quickly, whereas a squeal done with ample distortion will allow you to manipulate and hold the note out longer.
  • The easiest notes to squeal are commonly the 3rd fret of the bottom strings, so try them first (EAD). The difficulty tends to get harder as you move down the fret towards the pickups.
  • Great examples of a guitarists that used pinched harmonics are Roy Buchanan and Dimebag Darrell Abbot.
  • Try doing pinched harmonics at the seventh fret on the D or A strings.
  • Move your pick hand around, you get a better squeal in some places, this depends on your guitar and pickups.
  • Whatever you do don’t give up because effective practice techniques and patience are the keys to any learning process

Things You’ll Need

Now you know what a ‘pinch harmonic’ is. An article was written by Guitar Players Center recently about the player who pioneered ‘pinch harmonics’, which brought to light that lots of guitar players don’t know what they are. More articles on unusual and advanced techniques to come. Subscribe to our free blog and don’t miss a thing.

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6 Responses to How to Do a Pinch Harmonic, False Harmonic or Squealies

  1. Pzychotropic

    Well done for taking on the difficult task of putting into words these advanced and tricky techniques.
    Although I’ve successfully taught myself these ‘tricks’, I could never even get started in explaining how I do it! :)
    Great article!

  2. omg! I can do pinch harmonics, but I dont think I know what squeal is. Care to explain that one? Thanks.

  3. oh he he, I watched the video, now I know. You did a good job predicting what one might need to understand. thanks.

  4. Zachariah Zeveniah

    I have found this very helpful and am looking forward to the fun I am destined to have with harmonics! My nickname is RYA…

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