Uni­son Bends

Guitar Techniques - - Lesson: Rockschool -

The uni­son bend is a hugely ex­pres­sive tech­nique that usu­ally fea­tures in blues, rock and metal styles. The sound is ar­guably unique to the elec­tric gui­tar as the lighter string gauge al­lows each string to be in­de­pen­dently ma­nip­u­lated with­out af­fect­ing the oth­ers. If your gui­tar has a vi­brato sys­tem, any string bend­ing will pull on the bridge and slightly flat­ten the other strings; this isn’t usu­ally a prob­lem, but is no­tice­able when per­form­ing uni­son bends. The tech­nique starts as a dou­ble-stop played on ad­ja­cent strings; usu­ally with first and third fin­gers play­ing the two notes a tone apart. Both strings are picked at once; the lower of the two is then bent up a tone, while the higher string stays where it is. This cre­ates a pleas­ing mi­cro­tonal dis­so­nance be­tween the notes, which sounds great with a dis­torted sound. Even­tu­ally the two strings will be play­ing the same pitch, hence the name ‘uni­son’.

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