Announcement: Just Released a New Lesson About Playing the Guitar Just Like Ringing a Bell

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Latest Jon MacLennan video from shows how to use natural harmonics with any chord and in any key.

"Electric Guitar Lesson -- How to Play Natural Harmonics Over the Entire Fretboard" is the latest YouTube lesson from Guitar Control, the unquestioned leader in web-streamed instruction and DVD-based courses.

The sound produced by a guitar string is a composite of different frequencies, referred to as the fundamental and it's associated overtones. Although a person hears a note largely as a function of the fundamental, it is that combination of frequencies that gives a note its tonal richness. On a guitar, those overtones can be isolated, producing a bell-like chime.

This is called playing harmonics. Natural harmonics are found at the 12th fret (the mid-point, or 1/2 of a string) as well as the 7th and 5th frets (1/3 and 1/4, respectively). The locations where the harmonic can be isolated are called nodal points and the tone is produced by lightly muting the string at those points, canceling the fundamental and the overtones not associated with that node, and thereby isolating the frequency of that particular overtone. In practice, a player can find harmonics anywhere on the fretboard. For example if a string is fretted at the third fret, that basic 1/2 harmonic moves to the 15th fret. And because a note has many overtones, harmonics (called "artificial" harmonics) can also be found at other fractional positions along each string.

In this video, MacLennan teaches his technique for playing harmonics. He begins with the unusual method of using the middle finger to hold the pick against the thumb, allowing the index finger to mute the string, and leaving the fretting hand free to finger any chord. Depending on the note being fretted, the attending harmonics will be found at the appropriate fractional nodal points further up the fretboard. Jon demonstrates his technique on a Stratocaster, using only one pickup, to further isolate the tone, even as it is augmented electronically. Although harmonics can be played on an acoustic instrument, they really "ring out" with the sustain available on an electric guitar. Jon's method enables incredible versatility, allowing the player to produce those bell-like tones with any chord and in any key.

Jon MacLennan is a highly sought-after session musician, based in Los Angeles California, and a respected educator who has been an instructor in the Department Of Music at Los Angeles Pierce College. MacLennan has composed music for films and television and has recorded three albums as a leader, including the 2013 release "Songs From Box Canyon."

Guitar Control is a consortium of professional guitarists dedicated to providing the highest quality musical instruction. Producing both web-streamed lessons and comprehensive multi-DVD courses, Guitar Control offers instruction for every style of playing and for all musical genres. Guitar Control's YouTube channel offers 382 (and counting) free video lessons.

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Claude Johnson
Guitar Control
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