Guitarsite Forums Guitar News Weekly Guitar News Weekly Archive Lesson: Bending Steel

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  • #21943
    Guitar Expert
    Keymaster

    by Will Landrum
    http://www.guitarconsultant.com

    String bends are an important part of your overall playing
    ability. This technique is great for allowing feel and
    emotion to come out in your playing.

    Two important aspects of string bending are:
    1. Finger strength
    2. Ear Training

    Finger Strength

    The first problem you may encounter when learning to bend
    is pushing up hard enough on the string.

    Make sure you’re using a light enough gauge string.
    Normally, I use “lites” for my electric guitar.

    Lite Gauge Strings:
    E 042
    A 032
    D 024
    G 016
    B 011
    E 009

    You may want to use “Extra Lites” if you’re just starting
    out.

    Extra Lite Gauge Strings:
    E 038
    A 030
    D 022
    G 014
    B 011
    E 008

    The biggest secret I learned about bending notes is that you
    MUST use supporting fingers!

    Here’s what I mean.

    Let’s say you’re doing a bend at the seventh fret, third
    string using your third finger. The bend comes much easier
    if you use your second finger to help the third
    push the string up.

    Lay both fingers on the string. Keep your fingers
    together; no gaps. This technique provides good leverage to
    make the bend happen.

    Another great thing about this is that the same applies to
    bending with your pinky. Use your second and third fingers to
    help your pinky push that string up. In some cases, you may
    want to use your first finger as well.

    Ear Training

    Obviously, your bends won’t sound good if you don’t know
    what note you’re shooting for. You need to practice your
    bends by alternating between the bent note and the
    regularly fretted note so that your ear will become
    accustomed to the correct pitch. This also serves to teach
    you how far to physically bend the string. I’ve included
    “ear training” notes in the exercises below.

    Here’s the tablature for a good range of bends to practice:

    Legend
    
    2b4 = bend second fret note up to fourth fret note.
    
    1. This bend is good for building strength because it's so 
    low on the neck.
    
    use third finger to bend
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    -------0-------0--------------------------------------------
    --2b4-----2b4-----------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    
    2. This bend is good if you're just starting out. It's 
    located at the center of the string tension and the fretted 
    note for ear training is an easy reach with your first 
    finger.
    
    use third finger to bend
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ---------10---------10--------------------------------------
    --12b14------12b14------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    
    3. This bend will help your pinky get into shape.
    
    use fourth finger to bend
    ---------10---------10--------------------------------------
    --13b15------13b15------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    
    4. Play this one when your pinky IS in shape.
    
    use fourth finger to bend
    --22b24------22b24------------------------------------------
    ---------17---------17--------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    
    

    You’re now on your way to bending steel with your bare
    hands!

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