"Chinatown" harmonics -- just what do you call them?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

"Chinatown" harmonics -- just what do you call them?

Postby mark reinhart » Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:55 pm

I have guitar technique question for all of you -- just what is the official term for the harmonic patterns that Chet plays in "Chinatown, My Chinatown?" Are they doubled harmonics (in other words, two harmonic notes being struck at the same time), or are they single harmonic notes being played against regularly-struck notes? I've read up on some guitar technique articles and watched some great Chet-style players on YouTube in order to try to answer this question for myself -- but I'm still not finding an answer that I feel to be definitive. So if anyone could help to answer this question for me, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
mark reinhart
 
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:13 pm

Re: "Chinatown" harmonics -- just what do you call them?

Postby albertgen » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:34 pm

They are a harmonic with a fretted note. Chet called it a harmonic with a pure tone, they sound incredible but there is a volume drop when you go from playing all six strings and then going to a melody using harmonics either alone or harmonized. Al
albertgen
 
Posts: 276
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:39 pm

Re: "Chinatown" harmonics -- just what do you call them?

Postby Steve Sanders » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:24 am

Just like Al said, they are a combo of a regular note and a harmonic played together. And there is somewhat of a drop in volume. But I have found that you can overcome most of that by playing with both pickups instead of just the neck pickup. It seems that the bridge pickup is more sensitive to "harmonic notes". Listen to "Just Out of Reach" on Chet's Camden record "Chet" and it is played all the way thru using the pure note / harmonic combo. It's a neat little tune and easy to learn, key of C then modulate to G. It is good practice and a great learning tune for those pickers just getting into the harmonic thing. Ya need a nice vibrato / tremelo tho to get the effect. When I was just getting started and didn't even know what a thumbpick was and heard Chet playing those harmonics, I just assumed his guitar had a neck about a mile long so he could play those "high" notes!! What's a harmonic?? Boy howdy, Chet was great even without the alternating bass line. He had more moves than a bus load'a cheerleaders!!! Steve
Steve Sanders
 
Posts: 137
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:42 pm

Re: "Chinatown" harmonics -- just what do you call them?

Postby mark reinhart » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:33 am

Thanks, Al and Steve, these are exactly the answers I was looking for. I had found an interview with Chet where he spoke of using harmonics paired with pure tones, and the "pure tones" phrase is what threw me -- I thought that pure tones perhaps meant naturally occurring harmonics rather than false harmonics. It's funny, Chet always said that the first time he ever used this technique was on "Chinatown," but he actually used it on an earlier recording -- it shows up on his recording of "Good-Bye Blues," which was made about 10 months before "Chinatown." "Good-Bye Blues" did almost nothing in terms of sales or airplay when it was released -- since it didn't really have much impact on Chet's career, perhaps he just forgot about it altogether.
mark reinhart
 
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:13 pm


Return to Mister Guitar, Chet Atkins

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest