When playing the guitar, having the ability to bend strings and achieve the sweet notes ‘in-between”great guitar string bending technique is what makes a guitar player sound truly special.
However, bending guitar strings is more than simply altering the string’s pitch. It’s a unique signature for a guitarist. As such, it’s essential to know the various basic types of bends so that you can make them your own. We prepared the following video performance and a detailed explanation of the bends used in this article.
Guitar string bending technique
The central concept for string bending is altering the pitch by bending one or more strings. The following are standard string bending techniques used by guitarists.
Types of single-string bends
There are many types of string bends at the disposal of an experienced guitarist. Let us discuss them one by one.
Half step bend
A half step bend is when you bend a note a half step up (1 fret). It’s an easy bend because it’s short with minimal pressure.
Full step bend
Typically, this bend is what guitarists aim to learn first, as it’s a common ingredient in most blues and rock solos. A full step bend is when you a whole step up (2 frets)
One and a half step bend
This type of bend is more challenging and less common than the previous Bending three frets up is not something many players usually do, as it requires strength in the left hand and control over the note. Bending techniques that involve two or more strings are:
This technique is widely used in everything from blues to metal as it can sound anything from wild to aggressive. Unison bends are typically played on the top 2 strings, the B and G string. To play it, place your finger in any note of high E or B string, then bend the string above it from a half step down to the pitch of the lower string.
The logic is the same as the unison bend. However, it doesn’t have to be a unison pitch. You bend two strings of different pitches to achieve different effects. Other types of string bends are:
A prebend means bending a string to pitch, then playing the note while it’s bent. To recap, bend the string to the desired pitch, play the note, and release it fully.
Bend and Release
The bend and release technique is pretty straightforward. It happens when the above bends are played and then held until it’s released back to their original pitch. String bends can be incorporated into other guitar techniques. An excellent example of that is bending double stops – (playing two strings simultaneously). Vibrato is also, in a way, small miniature bends.
How difficult is the technique of string bending?
Some variables will affect how easy or difficult playing a string bend is. The gauge of the string (the diameter of the string) is a significant factor in how much tension is needed to perform a bend. Being able to reach many different micro pitches makes bending something piano players wish they could do.
Correct practice makes for perfect bends.
You quickly pick a guitar player who has mastered his bending technique from someone who still has some work to do on their technique. Bending is a technique that is unique for every player. You only need to practice to the point where your bends are right on the pitch consistently.
With patience, proper ear training, and other great string benders as a reference in time, you will have no problem with bends. David Gilmour from Pink Floyd is a master of bending. Check out some of his solos to create an idea of how fully inundated bend with smooth vibrato sounds.
Bending Strings Tips
Record your bends, playback, and listen. Building a good ear for pitch is essential and requires practice. The first step in correcting a lousy bend is recognizing that you need to work on it.
How to practice
A good practice exercise is to play the tone you want to bend to. Then bend the note to the same pitch. Practice playing the notes on a scale and then bending up to it. Refer to the video and if the pentatonic scale is your main go-to for leads, start by bending each note of the scale-up to the next.
Use multiple fingers
When bending, use more the one finger. The best practice is to put your index, middle, and ring fingers together to support the ring finger with a wrist movement for any bend. The motion is a smooth rotary one. How fast or slow determines how you sound and your vibrato. Pay close attention to that!
Furthermore, try practicing bending down when bending the lower three strings. The first reason is the thickness of the string and how the hand is positioned on the guitar’s neck. The second is that the fretboard is not wide enough to support the strings.
The thumb position is critical while bending. Depending on which string you are bending, the thumb supports the hand as it moves about the fretboard. This grip gives the wrist the extra space needed for a rotary motion. If bending feels challenging, you should probably check how your wrist and thumb are positioned.
The best approach is to build up your knowledge and technique over what you already know and master.
Go to your chord shapes, solos, and scales you are familiar with and try to play around with different bending techniques. Confirming that the pitch is correct is essential for becoming an excellent string bender. String bends are a great way to give your guitar playing your sound.
Continue to practice the techniques and make them your own.