Low frequency guided wave based inspection is an extensively used method for asset management with the advantage of wide area coverage from a single location at the cost of spatial resolution. With the advent of high frequency guided waves, short range inspections with high spatial resolution for monitoring corrosion under pipe supports and tank annular plates has gained widespread interest and acceptance. One of the major challenges in the application of high frequency guided waves in a short range inspection is to attain the desired modal displacements with respect to the application. In this paper, an investigation on the generation and formation of fundamental S0 mode is carried out through numerical simulation and experiments to establish a prenatal zone for guided waves. The effect of frequency, thickness of the plate and frequency-thickness (f∗d) is studied. The investigation reveals the existence of a rudimentary form with similar modal features to the fully developed mode. This study helps in the design and development of a high frequency guided wave generator for particular applications which demands waves with very less sensitivity to the surface and loading during the initial phase which immediately evolves to a more sensitive wave towards the surface on propagation for the detection of shallow defects. © 2017 Author(s).