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Derek Trucks on Incorporating Harmonics Into Your Slide Playing

(Image credit: Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images)

In this bite-sized lesson, Derek Trucks gives you some insights on incorporating natural and artificial harmonics into your slide lines.

From Trucks: "I learned this technique from the sacred steel players. Using harmonics is a great way to get a phrase to jump out of the mix, especially when playing live.

"There are two types of harmonics: artificial harmonics [A.H.], which are sounded from “fretted” notes, and natural harmonics [N.H.], which are sounded from open strings. In this lick [FIGURE 5a], I generate an artificial harmonic by placing the slide on the high E string at the eighth fret while simultaneously picking the string and lightly touching it with my pick-hand index finger exactly 12 frets higher, directly above the 20th fret. The result is an artificial harmonic that sounds one octave higher than the original note.

"In this lick [FIGURE 5b], I start with a natural harmonic that’s sounded by lightly touching the high E string at the 12th fret while picking it conventionally. This produces a harmonic one octave higher than the open string. I then begin with the slide from behind the nut and quickly slide up to the 17th fret so that it raises the pitch of the harmonic."

All examples are performed fingerstyle in open E tuning (low to high: E B E G# B E).

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