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Lead Guitar Lessons FREE Blog Series

Bending

Bending is one of the electric guitars most musical and emotionally expressive techniques, it is also a technique that is synonymous and unique to the electric guitar celebrating it as the truly limitless instrument it is.

In the first instalment of this FREE Lead Guitar Lessons blog series we will be taking a look at some of the fundamentals of great bending and how to apply them in creative lead guitar contexts.

Bending Mechanics

Bending In Tune

The most important lesson for bending is bending in tune. This may seem like common sense but believe me, it’s not.

I have worked with many guitarists who came to me to improve their lead guitar playing ability, and though these guitarists had some amount of soloing technique, they were amazed to discover they had never been bending in tune or aspiring to bend in tune the entire time they had been playing.

If this sounds like you, don’t fret! … Excuse the pun 😉

Nothing is set in stone and ineffective playing habits can always be rewired!

The most important thing to understand for bending in tune is what the note you are bending to both sounds and feels like when you bend it in tune.

To understand what it should sound like first play the note you are bending to, keep the sound of the note in your ears and bend up to it.

Is your bend too flat? Or perhaps it’s too sharp? Play the note then bend up to it again until you can hear the note replicated accurately in your bend.

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Another great exercise is to record yourself playing a single note to each click of a metronome set to a slow amount of beats per minute, then play back the recording and bend up to each note. When you bend in tune you will hear the notes sonically merge.

To understand what bending in tune should feel like pay close attention to the feelings you experience in your fretting hand as you execute bends in tune.

There will be a certain amount of string pressure you will feel in your finger tips, you will feel the above strings pressing into your fingers at a particular point in the bend.

Are these the feelings you usually experience when bending?

If not, you may have been bending out of tune all this time but never realised.

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Using Extra Fingers For Support

When bending from your 2nd, 3rd or 4th finger, it’s important to use the other fingers behind the finger leading the bend to bend to assist the bend also.

Place the remaining fingers in the frets behind the finger you are leading your bend with and fret the string with light equal pressure with all fingers. When you bend, use all the fingers, not just the one that is leading the bend.

You will still feel that the finger you lead the bend with will receive most of the pressure but having the other fingers behind it add an astonishing amount of strength and control to a bend.

Again, this may seem like common sense but believe me, it’s not.

The amount of guitarists out there that look like they use additional fingers to support bends but still use only one because they don’t add enough pressure to the supporting fingers is very high.

Poor finger support in bends can actually make it harder to bend in tune, as well as apply controlled vibrato to bends. Next time you bend a note on your guitar, share the workload with the 3 or so supporting fingers behind the finger that is leading the bend.

Holding The Neck For Optimum Bending Potential

One of the most important elements for successfully bending strings is holding the neck properly.

The most effective way of holding the neck for bending is with your thumb wrapped over the top of the neck and the curve of the neck filling up the curve between your thumb and your 1st finger.

Once in this position keep your fingers firm and use the strength of your forearm to bend the string, as well as your thumb to help pull your bends up.

Whole Tone Bends

whole-tone-bends

The most commonly used bends are whole tone bends.

These bends bend up to a note one whole tone higher than the note you are playing.

In the above lick we are exploring whole tone bends with an Eric Clapton style bending lick using our 3rd and 1st fingers to bend.

1 ½  Tone Bends

1-12-tone-bends

In the lead guitar playing world, one of the coolest things you can do is bend beyond one whole tone. 1 ½ tone bends are everywhere in great lead guitar playing.

In the above lick we are exploring 1 ½ tone bends with a Slash style bending lick in the key of A using our 3rd finger for the 1 ½ tone bend and our 1st finger for a whole tone bend.

2 Tone Bends

2-tone-bends

The electric guitar knows no boundaries, therefore why should your bends stop at 1 ½ tones? 2 tone bends (and more if your feeling adventurous) are enthusiastically encouraged in the world of great lead guitar playing.

In the above lick we are exploring 2 tone bends with a Jimmy Page style bending lick in the key of A using our 3rd finger for the 2 tone bend.

If you are interested in guitar lessons then fill out the form for your FREE evaluation lesson by clicking the FREE lesson button below.

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BECOME THE ELECTRIC GUITARIST YOU’VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF BEING.

½ Tone Bends

12-tone-bends

½ tone bends have a distinct, emotionally stirring sound and pack quite a musical punch for their small size.

In the above lick we are exploring ½ tone bends with a Michael Schenker style bending lick in the key of A using our 3rd finger for the ½ tone bends and our 4th finger for a whole tone bend.

Unison Bends

unison-bends

Unison bends add more grunt and groan to regular bends by harnessing the power of double notes and a growling dissonant sound produced before the bend sonically merges with the tonic note fretted on the higher string.

In the above lick we are exploring unison bends with a Jimi Hendrix style bending lick in the key of A using our 4th and 3rd fingers for the unison bends using whole tones.

Microtonal Bends

Many times in thousands of different rock solos, including some of the licks above, you will hear bends being bent slightly but not to an exact pitch. These bends are called microtonal bends.

A way to musically describe microtonal bends would be that the bend is bent slightly but not enough to accurately match the note that would exist on a keyboard above the note you are bending.

Microtonal bends add an earthy, bluesy sound to lead guitar playing but are not applicable to every note, neither can they be successfully used with different bending styles.

To stay on the safe side of microtonal bends stick to using them with the 5th and the 3rd of the minor pentatonic and when you bend them, cut them off at the microtonal pitch without releasing them.

For more bending licks you can apply to your own playing download your copy of my FREE eBook 25 Licks Every Rock Guitar Must Know.

If you are interested in guitar lessons then fill out the form for your FREE evaluation lesson by clicking the FREE lesson button below.

CALL NOW
To book your FREE evaluation lesson
0490 137 621

BECOME THE ELECTRIC GUITARIST YOU’VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF BEING.

By |2016-05-31T13:58:07+10:00September 15th, 2015|Blog, Guitar Lessons|0 Comments

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