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Slide guitar question: "back notes"
Old 26th February 2020
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Slide guitar question: "back notes"

Is there a term for what I call the "back note" you can hear when you play slide?
Obviously not if you mute the strings behind the slide, but if you don't use that technique you can hear a sound like a distant violin is accompanying you. Just the sound of the string resonating on the fingerboard side.

It's led me to noting when it harmonises with the note I'm playing on the other side of the string. From this I started to look into just intonation, as the sweetest notes form perfect ratios between the two lengths on either side of the string (and not necessarily directly above a fret). It's made me look at tuning in an entirely different way.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Not sure I always mute the strings behind the slide. It kind of sound messy otherwise.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I don't really want to incorporate them into playing as such (they're difficult to hear unless you play a single string). I was just interested at how they seem to complement the main note being played. I haven't really developed a technique for muting the strings, but, as I'm generally playing with an open tuning (and in the key of the open tuning) these "back notes" don't really clash in an obvious way; just seem to add a metallic shimmer (like a bell or a cymbal) because they're somehow in tune in the same way that overtones can be.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 

I'd say most slide players mute and if I hear the messy sound of an unmuted slide, the first thing I think is this guy just started using a slide. It is easy, with the slide on your pinky you gently let your fingers drag behind the slide barely touching the strings. Question of practice
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Not sure if it's the same thing, but there's all sorts of extraneous noises going on with this guy.

Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
Not sure if it's the same thing, but there's all sorts of extraneous noises going on with this guy.
That's exactly what I'm talking about. The soundboard of his diddley bow is really amplifying the sound. If you listen to his final slide up to the key note you hear the two notes converge in unison and it's that convergence that I'm interested in. It happens wherever the string is divided into two sections that form perfect ratios. So (playing a string in D), if you play a note at the octave, the other note is an octave (two D's); if you play at the 5th fret you hear the fourth note (G) plus the other note playing a high D. If you play a major 3rd (F#) you hear another major 3rd two octaves above. The best places for this to happen along the string are where it is subdivided into a simple number. So the octave divides it into 2, A fifth divides it into 3, a 4th divides it into 4, a major 3rd divides it into 5, minor 3rd into 6, etc. Once you get to divisions of 7 you are leaving the familiar territory of western harmony, with its 12 notes to the octave, into what composer Paul Hindemith dismissed as "chaos", but other less trepid composers, like La Monte Young, Harry Partch have embraced; the world of microtonal music (which the blues was always a part of, thanks to people like Blind Willie Johnson and Muddy Waters).

The spots on the strings where these harmonies strike up on either side of the string are also the places where you can find harmonics (and correspond to the harmonics).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaNoam View Post
Is there a term for what I call the "back note" you can hear when you play slide?
The usual term for what you are on about is "poor slide technique". No offense intended, and I know you are trying to make intentional use of it, but outside of experimental stuff, or the occasional "effect", it generally just sounds like poor slide technique when you don't mute properly. Slide guitar is a fairly typical, well-established sound, so there are conventions that people see as "right". One of those is not having ghost notes all over the place.

But, by all means, carry on with what you are investigating. Probably cool and useful stuff to be found in there. That said, I would suggest learning to play conventionally first [or at the same time], so that you can incorporate what you are talking about from a standpoint of choice rather than lack of ability.


KOTS
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingoftheslutz View Post
The usual term for what you are on about is One of those is not having ghost notes all over the place.
Is that what they are called? (QED?)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Ry Cooder (channeling Blind Willie Johnson) rocking the ghost notes in Paris, Texas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6ymVaq3Fqk&t=34s
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 

To me your question comes down to "I am too lazy to learn how to properly play slide guitar, so can we say it is cool to play sloppy slide guitar and is there a cool name for that?"

Sure when you are Ry Cooder and know how to properly play a slide you can occasionally create some effects with the strings resonnance behind the slide but at the end of the day, Ry Cooder knows how to and do mute the strings behind the slide most of the time. But yeah, sure go ahead.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

All I asked was what are those notes called. It has no bearing on how much I'll need or use them and I thank everyone for their suggestions about playing. The slide (and the guitar I've set up for slide) are supportive to my fretless guitar, fretless bass and microtonally tuned keyboards. At the moment my main interest (when I'm making music myself; my day job is recording engineer) are these "inbetween" notes and creating my own scales, so sources like the "back/ghost" notes are useful naturally occurring suggestions of directions to follow.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
sniff's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaNoam View Post
That's exactly what I'm talking about. The soundboard of his diddley bow is really amplifying the sound. If you listen to his final slide up to the key note you hear the two notes converge in unison and it's that convergence that I'm interested in. It happens wherever the string is divided into two sections that form perfect ratios. So (playing a string in D), if you play a note at the octave, the other note is an octave (two D's); if you play at the 5th fret you hear the fourth note (G) plus the other note playing a high D. If you play a major 3rd (F#) you hear another major 3rd two octaves above. The best places for this to happen along the string are where it is subdivided into a simple number. So the octave divides it into 2, A fifth divides it into 3, a 4th divides it into 4, a major 3rd divides it into 5, minor 3rd into 6, etc. Once you get to divisions of 7 you are leaving the familiar territory of western harmony, with its 12 notes to the octave, into what composer Paul Hindemith dismissed as "chaos", but other less trepid composers, like La Monte Young, Harry Partch have embraced; the world of microtonal music (which the blues was always a part of, thanks to people like Blind Willie Johnson and Muddy Waters).

The spots on the strings where these harmonies strike up on either side of the string are also the places where you can find harmonics (and correspond to the harmonics).
Ghost harmonics ©
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

"I name this phenomenon 'ghost harmonics'."

<champagne bottle smashes into my guitar (carefully salvage the bottleneck)>
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Guess there aren't many people here who play slide a whole lot. I've used slide since the 60's and can nail allot of different styles. Never muted strings on the nut side of a slide. Its all done by the right hand. The pickups are only going to hear what's between the bridge and slide. The only crap that regenerates from the nut side has to get by the slide. Maybe if you're using a standard setup with low action and a thin glass slide, I could see a touch that light having major issues. I sure wouldn't want to be dragging around a dead finger trying to mute the back side trying to play something like Highway 61 Johnny winter style. Of course you do have to learn how to use a finger pick to pull those kinds of triplets off really well. A flat pick cant "stop" the notes like you can fingerpicking the notes playing slide. I'd also wear out my left arm trying to mute the notes doing vibratos. My arm gets tired enough just sliding on the strings, but that's part of the trick too. Being at the note or intentionally sliding into it before you have to pick the notes so you don't hear all that crud in between.


Since you're probably not amplifying the neck side of the string it doesn't make allot of sense to get to get overly scientific about what's actually happening between the nut and slide, or fret. There is a correlation between the harmonic points and the length of the string on either side. The 5th, 7th, and 12th frets are the loudest up to the first octave. There are lesser harmonics at the 9th 2nd, 3rd frets but I wouldn't know how closely the fret side correlates.

If you want to read up on it Google "String Nodes" and you'll see how a string is divided. When you create a string chime harmonic you are essentially dividing the whole string into separate parts. The open string is the fundamental note. The 12th fret divides it in two so the pitch is an octave higher for each half. Its also louder then the other harmonics because both halves of the string are doubling the loudness.

The others are here. Its pretty interesting stuff and not too overly complex considering its a 12 note scale.



I do prefer a brass slide over the others but having to keep it polished is a pain. I'm back to using a steel slide lately and still like its highly metallic tone. Glass is smooth, but you also loose allot of sustain with glass if its too thin. My guess is the people posting here who suggest muting the not side of the slide don't actually play allot of slide or they use it surgically instead of raw blues style. Either that or they use a standard string setup and can barely touch the strings without having the adding the slide bang into the frets. If you adjust the strings high and use heavier strings you can get much better string contact, even on the high strings. You can also use a special tool which fits over the existing nut and lifts the strings higher specifically for open tuning.

More importantly, when you do play open tuning the open strings become your drone notes. You don't want to be muting those, instead you use all that bleed and harmonics to your advantage switching from chords to leads much like a sitar player uses drone notes when playing that instrument. I also play a lot of slide using standard tuning which require a lot of note dampening. Over the years I developed a method of palm muting strings which only lets the strings being played resonate so any strings that are out of pitch are not heard. I guess I had a knack for it at an early age having started off playing Zither and Violin before moving to fretted instruments. Being able to hear the notes and plan where you go before you move there is critical play slide or you wind up with a whole lot of sour notes.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Head
 

^^^

rotfl.


KOTS
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaNoam View Post
Is that what they are called? (QED?)
Yup. They’re not harmonics.

KOTS
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
Guess there aren't many people here who play slide a whole lot. I've used slide since the 60's and can nail allot of different styles. Never muted strings on the nut side of a slide. Its all done by the right hand. The pickups are only going to hear what's between the bridge and slide. The only crap that regenerates from the nut side has to get by the slide. Maybe if you're using a standard setup with low action and a thin glass slide, I could see a touch that light having major issues. I sure wouldn't want to be dragging around a dead finger trying to mute the back side trying to play something like Highway 61 Johnny winter style. Of course you do have to learn how to use a finger pick to pull those kinds of triplets off really well. A flat pick cant "stop" the notes like you can fingerpicking the notes playing slide. I'd also wear out my left arm trying to mute the notes doing vibratos. My arm gets tired enough just sliding on the strings, but that's part of the trick too. Being at the note or intentionally sliding into it before you have to pick the notes so you don't hear all that crud in between.


Since you're probably not amplifying the neck side of the string it doesn't make allot of sense to get to get overly scientific about what's actually happening between the nut and slide, or fret. There is a correlation between the harmonic points and the length of the string on either side. The 5th, 7th, and 12th frets are the loudest up to the first octave. There are lesser harmonics at the 9th 2nd, 3rd frets but I wouldn't know how closely the fret side correlates.

If you want to read up on it Google "String Nodes" and you'll see how a string is divided. When you create a string chime harmonic you are essentially dividing the whole string into separate parts. The open string is the fundamental note. The 12th fret divides it in two so the pitch is an octave higher for each half. Its also louder then the other harmonics because both halves of the string are doubling the loudness.

The others are here. Its pretty interesting stuff and not too overly complex considering its a 12 note scale.



I do prefer a brass slide over the others but having to keep it polished is a pain. I'm back to using a steel slide lately and still like its highly metallic tone. Glass is smooth, but you also loose allot of sustain with glass if its too thin. My guess is the people posting here who suggest muting the not side of the slide don't actually play allot of slide or they use it surgically instead of raw blues style. Either that or they use a standard string setup and can barely touch the strings without having the adding the slide bang into the frets. If you adjust the strings high and use heavier strings you can get much better string contact, even on the high strings. You can also use a special tool which fits over the existing nut and lifts the strings higher specifically for open tuning.

More importantly, when you do play open tuning the open strings become your drone notes. You don't want to be muting those, instead you use all that bleed and harmonics to your advantage switching from chords to leads much like a sitar player uses drone notes when playing that instrument. I also play a lot of slide using standard tuning which require a lot of note dampening. Over the years I developed a method of palm muting strings which only lets the strings being played resonate so any strings that are out of pitch are not heard. I guess I had a knack for it at an early age having started off playing Zither and Violin before moving to fretted instruments. Being able to hear the notes and plan where you go before you move there is critical play slide or you wind up with a whole lot of sour notes.
I've been playing slide guitar since the mid '60s. For all but the first couple of years (if that) I've ALWAYS muted the nut side of the string. I play both glass and metal slides and even sometimes cut my own slides out of booze bottle necks. One of my favorite glass slides is one I cut from a Belvedere vodka bottle, which is a very thick, heavy glass. I have a couple made from wine bottles (medium weight with a slight curve, good for some guitars with a greater curve to the fingerboard, and a lightweight Dunlop Coricidin bottle (I started using Coricidin bottles when they still came with pills in them, even before the Guitar Player Duane Allman interview made them popular.) I've cut metal slides from various types of pipe and electrical conduit, but my favorite metal slides are those made by the Latch Lake company, which are used by Billy Gibbons.

I play with the slide on my ring finger for the extra stability, mute with the middle and index fingers.

I play open G and open E, sometimes A and D, in a fairly simple style derived mostly from Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, although for a couple of years back in college I flirted a bit with John Fahey style stuff and experimented with a couple of his weirder open tunings. Keith Richards is another influence.

And I ALWAYS damp behind the strings. For one thing, having the back of the string undamped robs energy from the front portion, robbing you of sustain.

Last edited by John Eppstein; 4 weeks ago at 10:15 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Head
 

Well, according to Wikipedia [I know, I know], the nomenclature "ghost notes" applies to something else altogether. So I'll have to revise. Alas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_note

Phantom notes? Parasitic notes?


KOTS
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingoftheslutz View Post
Well, according to Wikipedia [I know, I know], the nomenclature "ghost notes" applies to something else altogether. So I'll have to revise. Alas.
I've been playing that other kind of ghost note on my bass for as long as I can remember and didn't know they were called that (I thought of them as "dead notes").

I think what we are talking about are known as ghost notes amongst slide players; when it's not just called "noise".

I've looked a little further into it and, as demonstrated in this thread, there are different schools of thought and practice on the phenomenon.

In Rick Payne's slide guitar tutorial (Beyond The Delta) he says exactly that (whilst still preferring to call it "noise").

I spoke with Ian McWee at Diamond Bottlenecks earlier today and he called them ghost notes and that some do and some don't. He also told me that Ry Cooder is so in love with adding extra noise to his slide playing that he prefers to locate the seam on a bottleneck and make sure it has contact with the strings; file under "that's jazz/blues/rock'n'roll/etc/etc".
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaNoam View Post

I've looked a little further into it and, as demonstrated in this thread, there are different schools of thought and practice on the phenomenon.
Not really, man. Its pretty much universally agreed that you mute extraneous ringing strings [or parts of strings] to get a good slide sound.

Not to say that you can't, or shouldn't, experiment with, and utilize odd sounds that you find interesting and / or musically useful. But your talking about sound effects, not slide guitar.

I remember Joe Diorio [Google him, if you don't know who he is] used to be playing a straight ahead jazz tune and then all of a sudden he would start raking his pick across the strings behind the bridge of his archtop, and then right back to bop lines. So you wouldn't be the first to interject weird sounds into a musical piece.

BTW, you obviously don't need the "back notes" [or whatever you want to call them] to play microtonal stuff on slide. Slide is pretty much by definition microtonal.

Anyhow, I hope you come up with some cool stuff with your slides.


Best,

KOTS
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingoftheslutz View Post
Not really, man. Its pretty much universally agreed that you mute extraneous ringing strings [or parts of strings] to get a good slide sound.
As I said in my post, it's undisputable that there are well-known players rocking the ghost notes (starting from Blind Willie Johnson) and even trying to up the noise in their playing (Ry Cooder scraping the strings with the seams on his bottleneck).

Quote:
Not to say that you can't, or shouldn't, experiment with, and utilize odd sounds that you find interesting and / or musically useful. But your talking about sound effects, not slide guitar.
It's not whether I use them or not, it's how they correspond to the main note that interests me. And, as slide playing is generally an open tuning style of music, those correspondences are not a million miles away from making musical sense. And the more you listen the more you find.

Quote:
I remember Joe Diorio [Google him, if you don't know who he is] used to be playing a straight ahead jazz tune and then all of a sudden he would start raking his pick across the strings behind the bridge of his archtop, and then right back to bop lines. So you wouldn't be the first to interject weird sounds into a musical piece.
Some of my favourite guitarists are Derek Bailey, Keith Rowe, Hans Reichel, Fred Frith (who I've use a pickup suspended over the nut end of his fingerboard), Takashi Mizutani & Henry Kaiser; I need no encouragement there.

Quote:
BTW, you obviously don't need the "back notes" [or whatever you want to call them] to play microtonal stuff on slide. Slide is pretty much by definition microtonal.
It's the just intonation part of microtonal that interests me in regard to the ghost notes. I'm guessing that Blind Willie Johnson, because he was blind, used his ears to guide him rather than the frets, as he demonstrates mastery of finding the "notes inbetween" and singing those notes accurately too.
When I was younger I always wondered why major triads somehow sounded wrong to me on a keyboard and why I could never get a guitar to sound perfectly in tune (well, you could get one chord sounding sweet but then another would sound terrible). I might have discovered exactly why much quicker if I'd had a bottleneck.

One of the easiest ways of finding some decent non-western just-intonated notes on a string is by zoning in on the ghost note that is generated at the same time; when the two notes harmonise, but it might not be standard western harmony, then you've found a sweet spot.

Below is a guitar-sized chart I created when I customised one of my electrics into a fretless guitar (goes up two octaves because it used to have 24 frets). It divides the string at the harmonic nodes, which are also where placing the slide will find you just-intonated notes. I've mark some important ones.

The method of describing the notes (3/2, 2/1, 5/4, etc) is a standard way to define the pitch of a note with a scale, if you multiply the frequency of the open string by one of these numbers, say, D; 293.66Hz x 5/4 = 367.075Hz, which is a perfect major 3rd (-14 cents from the standard F#) which, as you can see on the chart, is slightly behind the fret where you would normally play an F#.

Actually, when I tune a guitar for slide (usually in open D or D#), I now use the perfect ratios rather than standard tuning, so:

D, A (+2 cents), D, F# (-14 cents), A (+2 cents), D

You can tune all the other strings from harmonics you will find on the bottom string or use a tuner that displays cents .Those ghost notes are starting to sound sweeter and sweeter, like they've arrived home.

One of the best discoveries is how well just intonation sounds with distortion; that F# disappears into the open chord played through distortion unlike how major thirds usually sound (and why guitarists often leave them out, preferring the harmonically simpler power chord). Surprised there are not more metal players (there's a couple) looking into JI.

Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Thanks OP and everyone - great thread.

I play guitar mainly DADF#AD and use that tuning as a basis (6 centre strings) on a Harley Benton 8-string lapsteel. I'm a rookie on lapsteel so I learnt and applied the (behind position) damping technique but was aware of the unplayed harmonics; many of my compositions rely on these as a natural open sound...into sitar type sounds, especially with the open strings in the key of D or A. It can also be applied to all-dampened songs but perhaps undampened at the bridge or for solo's.

John makes an interesting point about losing sustain, and I think that's the drawback of the unmuted 'ghost harmonic' technique...the fundamentals and important info can disappear into a mush.

Watching/listening to Daniel Lanois has been very helpful; I've been using a Fender volume pedal.

Is anyone using volume pedals (or other fx) with steel guitar, particularly for the harmonics? Thanks.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Is anyone using volume pedals (or other fx) with steel guitar, particularly for the harmonics? Thanks.
When my lead guitarist was playing occasional lap steel in the band he used a Goodrich volume pedal.

Traditional lap and pedal steel players nearly always use volume pedals, usually string pedals like the Goodrich, not gear or opto pedals.

When Sneaky Pete was playing with the Flying Burrito Brothers he was famous for his use of fuzz on pedal steel.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaNoam View Post
As I said in my post, it's undisputable that there are well-known players rocking the ghost notes (starting from Blind Willie Johnson) and even trying to up the noise in their playing (Ry Cooder scraping the strings with the seams on his bottleneck).



It's not whether I use them or not, it's how they correspond to the main note that interests me. And, as slide playing is generally an open tuning style of music, those correspondences are not a million miles away from making musical sense. And the more you listen the more you find.



Some of my favourite guitarists are Derek Bailey, Keith Rowe, Hans Reichel, Fred Frith (who I've use a pickup suspended over the nut end of his fingerboard), Takashi Mizutani & Henry Kaiser; I need no encouragement there.



It's the just intonation part of microtonal that interests me in regard to the ghost notes. I'm guessing that Blind Willie Johnson, because he was blind, used his ears to guide him rather than the frets, as he demonstrates mastery of finding the "notes inbetween" and singing those notes accurately too.
When I was younger I always wondered why major triads somehow sounded wrong to me on a keyboard and why I could never get a guitar to sound perfectly in tune (well, you could get one chord sounding sweet but then another would sound terrible). I might have discovered exactly why much quicker if I'd had a bottleneck.

One of the easiest ways of finding some decent non-western just-intonated notes on a string is by zoning in on the ghost note that is generated at the same time; when the two notes harmonise, but it might not be standard western harmony, then you've found a sweet spot.

Below is a guitar-sized chart I created when I customised one of my electrics into a fretless guitar (goes up two octaves because it used to have 24 frets). It divides the string at the harmonic nodes, which are also where placing the slide will find you just-intonated notes. I've mark some important ones.

The method of describing the notes (3/2, 2/1, 5/4, etc) is a standard way to define the pitch of a note with a scale, if you multiply the frequency of the open string by one of these numbers, say, D; 293.66Hz x 5/4 = 367.075Hz, which is a perfect major 3rd (-14 cents from the standard F#) which, as you can see on the chart, is slightly behind the fret where you would normally play an F#.

Actually, when I tune a guitar for slide (usually in open D or D#), I now use the perfect ratios rather than standard tuning, so:

D, A (+2 cents), D, F# (-14 cents), A (+2 cents), D

You can tune all the other strings from harmonics you will find on the bottom string or use a tuner that displays cents .Those ghost notes are starting to sound sweeter and sweeter, like they've arrived home.

One of the best discoveries is how well just intonation sounds with distortion; that F# disappears into the open chord played through distortion unlike how major thirds usually sound (and why guitarists often leave them out, preferring the harmonically simpler power chord). Surprised there are not more metal players (there's a couple) looking into JI.

ROTFL. You don’t know how to play slide guitar, though, do you?

And “rocking the ghost notes”? Thread is going "off the rails". They’re parasitic notes, I think.

Here, forget the maps and all that. I have it all figured out real simple for ya. When the note on one side of the slide / bone/ straight razor / beer bottle / zippo lighter / [whatever] gets higher, the note on the other side gets lower.

And the other way around, too!

There you go. Another mystery solved.


KOTS
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingoftheslutz View Post
ROTFL. You don’t know how to play slide guitar, though, do you?

And “rocking the ghost notes”? Thread is going "off the rails". They’re parasitic notes, I think.

Here, forget the maps and all that. I have it all figured out real simple for ya. When the note on one side of the slide / bone/ straight razor / beer bottle / zippo lighter / [whatever] gets higher, the note on the other side gets lower.

And the other way around, too!

There you go. Another mystery solved.


KOTS


KOTS
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaNoam View Post
As I said in my post, it's undisputable that there are well-known players rocking the ghost notes (starting from Blind Willie Johnson) and even trying to up the noise in their playing (Ry Cooder scraping the strings with the seams on his bottleneck).



It's not whether I use them or not, it's how they correspond to the main note that interests me. And, as slide playing is generally an open tuning style of music, those correspondences are not a million miles away from making musical sense. And the more you listen the more you find.



Some of my favourite guitarists are Derek Bailey, Keith Rowe, Hans Reichel, Fred Frith (who I've use a pickup suspended over the nut end of his fingerboard), Takashi Mizutani & Henry Kaiser; I need no encouragement there.



It's the just intonation part of microtonal that interests me in regard to the ghost notes. I'm guessing that Blind Willie Johnson, because he was blind, used his ears to guide him rather than the frets, as he demonstrates mastery of finding the "notes inbetween" and singing those notes accurately too.
When I was younger I always wondered why major triads somehow sounded wrong to me on a keyboard and why I could never get a guitar to sound perfectly in tune (well, you could get one chord sounding sweet but then another would sound terrible). I might have discovered exactly why much quicker if I'd had a bottleneck.

One of the easiest ways of finding some decent non-western just-intonated notes on a string is by zoning in on the ghost note that is generated at the same time; when the two notes harmonise, but it might not be standard western harmony, then you've found a sweet spot.

Below is a guitar-sized chart I created when I customised one of my electrics into a fretless guitar (goes up two octaves because it used to have 24 frets). It divides the string at the harmonic nodes, which are also where placing the slide will find you just-intonated notes. I've mark some important ones.

The method of describing the notes (3/2, 2/1, 5/4, etc) is a standard way to define the pitch of a note with a scale, if you multiply the frequency of the open string by one of these numbers, say, D; 293.66Hz x 5/4 = 367.075Hz, which is a perfect major 3rd (-14 cents from the standard F#) which, as you can see on the chart, is slightly behind the fret where you would normally play an F#.

Actually, when I tune a guitar for slide (usually in open D or D#), I now use the perfect ratios rather than standard tuning, so:

D, A (+2 cents), D, F# (-14 cents), A (+2 cents), D

You can tune all the other strings from harmonics you will find on the bottom string or use a tuner that displays cents .Those ghost notes are starting to sound sweeter and sweeter, like they've arrived home.

One of the best discoveries is how well just intonation sounds with distortion; that F# disappears into the open chord played through distortion unlike how major thirds usually sound (and why guitarists often leave them out, preferring the harmonically simpler power chord). Surprised there are not more metal players (there's a couple) looking into JI.




You DO understand that tuning your instrument to perfect intervals will make it impossible for you to be in tune with the vast, vast majority of other musicians, right? It's OK if all you want to do is solo work, but for ensemble playing it's a nightmare, especially if things like pianos and organs get involved.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Ha, Ha.

I thought I was being helpful and stuff. : )


You just have to remember that when one side goes up, the other side goes down!



Microtunal Slde Guitar Decoded ®™©



KOTS
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
Gear Head
 

I Just Intonated my Banjo, but unfortunately it still sounds like a Banjo.

What kind of slide should I use to make it sound better?



KOTS
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post



You DO understand that tuning your instrument to perfect intervals will make it impossible for you to be in tune with the vast, vast majority of other musicians, right? It's OK if all you want to do is solo work, but for ensemble playing it's a nightmare, especially if things like pianos and organs get involved.
I understand perfectly; it's a project. Hence (as explained early in the thread) all my other instruments are tuned to JI as well. I bought one of these to tune the keyboards: https://hpi.zentral.zone/tbx2b, my bass is a fretless, and I also have a fretless guitar. I'm also making one of these: http://danterosati.com/justguitar.html. Using Logic Pro X you have microtonal tuning as an option built in; you can even import your own Scala files (.scl) with a little hack.

I also understand how to adapt playing on standard-tuned instruments to fit with these (albeit hardly necessary).

If I was playing with other musicians who were tuned to equal temperament I'd tune accordingly (I like to be in tune, natch).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
Gear Head
 

I should also add that, back in the Old Country, I had quite a reputation as a player of Slide Theramin [microtunaly, of course]. Only my cousin Leon and his eldest wife could best me.

So its not like I don't understand weird noises.



KOTS
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