Being able to play pinch harmonics will make your guitar playing sounds totally badass. With this single technique, you can add true passion, quickly and easily to your guitar playing. However, if done improperly, it can be a very frustrating technique to deal with.

Look at this video to see how I supported one of my students with playing pinch harmonics in a couple of minutes. Watch this before reading further:

Here are the most common mistakes made by the vast majority of guitar players when attempting to learn to play pinch harmonics and how you can avoid them:

Mistake #1: Killing The Harmonic With The Thumb Of The Picking Hand

After you finally got your pinch harmonic to sound, the last thing you want to do is kill it with your thumb before it even has a change to scream.

How to fix this issue:

Hold the pick near the edge and play your favorite scale with only downstrokes. This will keep your thumb from touching the string after a note is played... and is a very efficient way for training your thumb and your pick to strike the string together. This will help you to make great-sounding, crystal-clear pinch harmonics.

Mistake #2: You Don't Look At Your Picking Hand

The vast majority of guitar players have the habit of looking at their fretting hand instead to their picking hand when practicing pinch harmonics. To finally master pinch harmonics and clearly identify what you are doing wrong, you must look at the correct hand.

How to fix this issue:

When practicing pinch harmonics, change the hand you are looking at. Start looking at your picking hand instead of your fretting hand.

Mistake #3: Not Integrating Pinch Harmonics With Other Guitar Techniques

Some guitarists spend hours practicing pinch harmonics in isolation but never integrate this technique with the other techniques they know. This makes all the time you practiced pointless, since you can’t play consistent pinch harmonics when it really counts.

Take this lead guitar playing test and see how close you are to becoming a great guitar player.

How to fix this issue:

Even if you have not yet mastered playing pinch harmonics the way you want, set aside some practice time for applying them in real life musical situations. Take your favorite guitar riff and implement some pinch harmonics into it.

Here is an example of how to do this:

Mistake #4: You Lack Good Vibrato

Vibrato is what gives life to pinch harmonics. Yes, vibrato itself is a separate guitar technique, but to play killer pinch harmonics you must have strong vibrato technique as well.

How to fix this issue:

Read this article on how to play better guitar vibrato and discover how vibrato can be used to create killer pinch harmonics.

Mistake #5: Not Knowing How To Mute Excess String Noise In Your Guitar Playing

Having control over unwanted string noise is important no matter what you aim to play, but it is even more important when it comes to pinch harmonics. Any tiny string noise will destroy the sound of your pinch harmonics completely.

How to fix this issue:

Use multiple muting techniques in your left and right hands for muting undesirable string noise. Learn more about how to do this by reading this great article on silencing guitar string noise.

Mistake #6: You Don’t Know Where The Right Places Are On The String To Play Pinch Harmonics

To play consistent pinch harmonics and do it correctly every time, you must know where the exact place on the string is that you need to pick. If you try to make a pinch harmonic by just striking the string in a random place, you will end up making a sloppy noise and will never be able to make clear pinch harmonics sound at will.

How to fix this issue:

Start investing some time into finding the precise place on the string where you can produce a harmonic. Try to play the harmonic in several different spots along the string by sliding your pick up /down and looking carefully for where it sounds better. Double check the video shown earlier to understand this approach better.

IMPORTANT: Do not rush when looking for the sweet spot along the string. You must be sure to pause for at least 1 second between each time you strike the string so you can carefully LISTEN to the response of each stroke. While practicing this technique, stay as focused as possible.
You’ve just learned how to prevent the most common mistakes made by guitar players when trying to play pinch harmonics. That said, understand that this technique is only a single piece of the puzzle that is needed for mastering lead guitar playing. Discover which areas of your lead guitar playing must be further developed by using this guitar soloing skills assessment.

Author's Bio: 

Tom Hess is an expert guitar teacher, composer and guitar teacher instructor. He teaches guitar players in his rock guitar lessons online. Go to to get more guitar playing resources and read more articles about guitar playing.