No Harmonics

I have a CBG I built using a neck I purchased. It sounds good but I can't get any harmonic notes. Any suggestions? I don't know if it's my technique, placement of the piezo or something else.  The technique looks simple enough so I'm assuming it's something else.

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  • Hi sounds like it may be intonation, you should find them on the 5th 7th and 12th fret or measure 1/4 of the string length for the 5th 1/3rd for the 7th and half way for the 12th, hope that helps

  • @Taffy Evans

    yes the saddle is 12-1/4" from the 12th fret.

    @Bob Herget

    I'll have to mess around more to see if I can get harmonics acoustically

    It has a piezo mounted to the neck directly under the bridge. It does amplify well when playing. It does not have a preamp. So most likely I need a preamp and a second pickup somewhere.  I have an "Electric Delta" 3-pole Electric Cigar Box Guitar Pickup I may install. I'll have to look at how to add that with the piezo. Or maybe just replace the piezo. I'm undecided at this point.

  • Hi Ken,

    I'm a little late to the conversation, but here's my two cents worth on the subject.

    Are you able to produce harmonics acoustically? If not, technique is the sole reason. Any taut string will produce harmonics acoustically if done correctly, regardless of scale length, or fret or bridge placement, as long as you're not playing in a vacuum. That's physical law. Improper fret spacing or bridge placement will certainly alter where a person may believe the proper locations are to produce harmonics, but in truth the string doesn't care where the frets are, or what the scale length is when producing harmonics. All that matters is that your finger contacts the string at the proper node along its length for whichever harmonic you are attempting to produce. From your conversation with Taffy, it seems that you're OK in regard to the guitar's fret setup.

    YouTube has plenty of tutorials on producing harmonics if you're new to trying to play them and having a difficult time.

    If you're able to produce harmonics acoustically but finding them to be weak when playing the guitar electrically amplified, it must be remembered that piezo pickups rely upon physical vibration to excite them into producing an electrical signal. Harmonics are vibrations of relatively lower amplitude compared to a strongly plucked string. Depending on how stiff your soundboard is, harmonics won't vibrate the soundboard as much as a strongly plucked string will. Different piezos do better jobs at utilizing those vibrations due to their type, their diameter if they are discs, materials, and construction than others can. Location and method of attachment of the piezo further influences how well they'll respond. Unless you're also experiencing amplification problems in general, I rather doubt that you have problems with your piezo. It's not out of the realm of possibility, though.

    My several piezo-amplified CBGs all do a pretty good job of amplifying harmonics. I use what are called "bottle-cap" disc piezos that are hot-glued underneath the soundboard near the bass end of the bridge.

    Are you using a preamp to boost the signal before going into your main audio amplifier? I just did an experiment and found that without the use of a preamp, the volume level of harmonics falls off to a much greater degree compared to the volume of a fully plucked string than when I am using a preamp.

    Good luck to you if you haven't sorted things out yet.



  • Hi again Ken, ok, if you are having trouble executing the playing of a harmonic note don't worry about it. So long as the 12th fret note of any string {when fretted} is the same as the open string note, you are ready to rock. If it's not the same adjust your bridge position, normally back from the measured scale length.

    The string gauge and height at the 12th fret will determine how far back to move.. Oh, is the bridge saddle 12 1/4" from the 12th fret?
    Enjoy Taff

  • Hey Ken, did you sort out your harmonics issue? It would be good to know what you found.

    • I still don't get any harmonics. I bought the neck premade. It's set up on 24-1/2 inches from the nut to the bridge. The nut was preinstalled. The distance from the nut to the  12th fret is 12-1/4 inches.

      It has one piezo pickup under the bridge. I"m considering adding another pickup designed for a 3 string cbg somewhere on the box closer to the nut.

  • Hi again, I should mention that the only place you will get harmonics is at the 12th, 7th, and 5th frets. Unless you use special picking techniques.

  • Hi, well the first thing to check is the obvious one… is the bridge in the correct position. So, with a 25” scale that would be 25” from the inside of the nut.
    Now check that the 12th fret is halfway at 12 ½”, to test, after measuring, if this is the correct position play an open note, then play the harmonic note over the 12th fret, this should be the same note/pitch.

    Depending on how high your strings are you should get the same note when the string is fretted at the 12th fret. Too high a string will sharpen it slightly when pushed down to the fret. If you do not get the same note then adjust the bridge position until you do.

    If as you say you get no harmonics, do the above setup for correcting scale length then look at your technique. Your technique may be ok, but the bridge could be in the wrong position.

    *On an electric guitar with multiple pickups, you will find that one pickup will respond well to a harmonic while other pickups do not so well. It depends on where the pickup sits under the string.
    Let us know how you go.
    HTML remember, to reply.

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