Natural Harmonics in Tuning and Intonation


Natural Harmonics are a great way to add a little flair to your playing.  But they can be used for much more than that.  Natural Harmonics can also be used to test intonation and to tuning very accurately. Although this is not a lesson on how to execute natural harmonics, I will start with a quick review.  Instead of pressing down on the string lightly touch the string DIRECTLY ABOVE the fret wire.  It should produce a bell or chime like ringing.  

Intonation 

Intonation is the measure of how your guitar stays in tune as you move up the neck.  If your neck is bowing or the frets on your guitar are not placed exactly where they should be, your guitar might go out of tune when playing higher up on the neck.  To test how good the intonation on your guitar is, produce a natural harmonic at the 12th fret. It should be exactly the same pitch as the note produced by fretting the note at the 12th fret. If it is not the same, you might need to adjust your guitar.  On a strat- style guitar, you should be able to lengthen or shorten the string at the bridge to fix the problem.

Tuning 

Most people know how to use relative tuning to tune the guitar to itself.  Another option is to use natural harmonics to tune.  The following can be used to put a guitar in standard tuning.

N.H. at 6th string, 5th fret = N.H. at 5th string, 7th fret

N.H. at 5th string, 5th fret = N.H. at 4th string, 7th fret

N.H. at 4th string, 5th fret = N.H. at 3rd string, 7th fret

N.H. at 3rd string, 4th fret = N.H. at 2nd string, 5th fret

N.H. at 2nd string, 5th fret = N.H at 1st string, 7th fret 

If you have any questions or comments please email me at mdguitarteacher@gmail.com.

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3 Responses

  1. this is a really easy to understand chart, one for the bookmarks, very useful…thanks

  2. Cool, i’ve seen people doing this before but never know how it works… until now!

  3. WOW! now i know!!!!! thanks!!!!

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