[For this lesson Travis is playing his Ernie Ball Musicman 7-string guitar in standard tuning low to high: B E A D G B E. Note that the licks he presents do not use the low-B string, and thus can also be performed on a 6-string guitar.]
In my lesson we’re going to learn how to embellish chord shapes using harmonics. I’m going to show you how to use this technique in two different examples. The first one is going to be from our song ‘Whales’ off our album The Collective. It’s really just based around two different chords: Dmin7(#5) and a Bmin7(#5). You can use this technique with any chord shape.
What you’re gonna do is, you’re going to strum the chord one time letting the notes ring out. Right after that, you’re going to tuck your pick behind your second finger and use your index finger and thumb to pluck the harmonics outlining the chord shape an octave higher.
In example 2, we’re going to be using a chord progression from the next Scale The Summit record: Csus2, Emin9, Emin7, Bmin7(#5), and Cmaj9. You can use this technique to add different textures to your chords. Remember, you don’t always have to play every note in the chord; you can skip strings and arpeggiate it in your own order and only sometimes play certain notes.
Notice when I’m strumming the Emin9 chord, when I actually go to pluck the harmonics I’m adding two notes to make it an Emin7 chord to change the chord voicing a little. [The left hand shifts so the pinky hits the 8th fret of the B string and first finger barres the 5th fret.] It makes it more interesting.
[Special thanks to Devin Kumar for his fantastic video and audio work, Alon Mei-Tal for his spot-on transcriptions, Ian Fleming for lending us his camera gear, and Cigar Masters of Worcester, MA f0r their warm hospitality.]