10 amaz­ing STRING BENDS…

… and how to use them

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

John Wheatcroft and Jon Bishop of­fer their in­di­vid­ual takes on the coolest string- bend ideas ever. Cop a whole new lick­bag!

string bend­ing be­came pop­u­lar with the ad­vent of the elec­tric gui­tar and the work of blues gui­tarists like T- Bone Walker. Other blues­men soon caught on, and the tech­nique was adopted by early rock ’ n’ roll and coun­try gui­tarists. To­day, string bend­ing is used in ev­ery style, from faux pedal- steel ef­fects to tap­ping and even bend­ing be­hind the nut.

Bend­ing is a great way to add ex­pres­sion to your play­ing. By pulling down or push­ing up a fret­ted note, you in­crease its ten­sion and the pitch rises. The abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late notes this way is a great as­set, and means you can ac­cess mi­cro­tonal in­ter­vals not avail­able on, say, piano. As Pink Floyd’s David Gil­mour once put it: “Some­thing magic comes out of bend­ing lit­tle bits of wire. You can add a hun­dred tiny in­flec­tions to what you’re do­ing, all the time.”

Be­cause it’s a topic of such fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance to so many styles, we’ve asked two se­nior GT tu­tors to give us their per­spec­tive on 10 top string bends. Be­fore prac­tis­ing bends, it’s a good idea to warm up. Stretch out the mus­cles of the fore­arms and warm the hands up fully. This will im­prove per­for­mance and help to pre­vent in­jury. A key area when de­vel­op­ing the string- bend­ing tech­nique is bend­ing in tune ( in­to­na­tion). Just as a vo­cal­ist needs to prac­tise pitch­ing, so does the string ben­der. Once the string is bent to pitch, you can add vi­brato to aid in­to­na­tion and to shape notes and add sus­tain.

A pop­u­lar method of de­vel­op­ing your pitch­ing is to use a ‘ tar­get’ tone. The E mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale ( E G A C D) pro­vides a fa­mil­iar back­drop, so let’s prac­tise with the notes D and E. Fret the D at the 15th fret, sec­ond string with your third fin­ger, plac­ing spare fin­gers be­hind for added strength. Your tar­get tone is E ( 17th fret, sec­ond string) and you can fret this be­fore bend­ing for a ref­er­ence pitch. Now, bend the D ( 15th fret, sec­ond string) up one tone ( two frets) un­til you think you have hit the E. Re- check the in­to­na­tion by play­ing the fret­ted E. Mem­o­rise the amount of pres­sure it took to get to the right pitch and also the sound of the ‘ in tune’ E note. You can use this method for semi­tone ( one fret) and tone- and- a- half ( three fret) bends too.

To test out your string- bend­ing tech­nique, we have 10 es­sen­tial string bends in the style of some of the most fa­mous string ben­ders. All ex­am­ples have a back­ing track, so you can try these ideas out and per­fect your ar­tic­u­la­tion and in­to­na­tion. To com­plete our stud­ies there’s a jam track, which pre­sents ex­am­ples in the

Some­thing magic comes out of bend­ing lit­tle bits of wire. You can add a hun­dred tiny in­flec­tions to what you’re do­ing, all the time.

David Gil­mour

con­text of a solo.

String- bend­ing ac­cu­racy re­lies upon good judge­ment and good tech­nique. Sev­eral fac­tors play a part in de­ter­min­ing how far you need to bend and how much force you’ll need to hit your tar­get pitch ac­cu­rately and con­sis­tently.

String Gauge One of the big­gest in­flu­ences on a gui­tar’s feel, we need to es­tab­lish a bal­ance be­tween slink­i­ness and re­sis­tance; too light (. 008) and you may not get suf­fi­cient pur­chase, too heavy (. 013) and it’s a phys­i­cal strug­gle.

Ac­tion Your ac­tion should be high enough so the strings don’t choke on the frets when you bend – too low and it’s hard to get ‘ around’ the string with your fin­ger and achieve a suf­fi­cient grip. Fret­ting with the fin­ger­print helps, along with sup­port­ing the bends with one or more un­used fin­gers. A higher ac­tion is best for bend­ing, but makes con­ven­tional fret­ting more dif­fi­cult, so, again, a com­pro­mise is nec­es­sary.

Neck Camb er The fret­board ra­dius lim­its the low­est pos­si­ble ac­tion be­fore the strings start to choke against the frets. As wider bends have be­come more pop­u­lar, neck cam­bers have be­come shal­lower, with a vin­tage- style Fen­der ra­dius mea­sur­ing around 7.25 inches while a mod­ern Ibanez is closer to 14 inches. Necks from some bou­tique gui­tar com­pa­nies of­ten fea­ture a com­pound ra­dius, where the fret­board flat­tens out in the higher re­gions.

Frets As frets get big­ger, con­tact be­tween fin­ger and fret­board is less­ened, re­duc­ing fric­tion and mak­ing bend­ing eas­ier. But be mind­ful not to push the string into this ex­tra space and bend notes un­in­ten­tion­ally sharp. The ex­treme ver­sion of this idea is the scal­loped fret­board, where in­stead of rais­ing the height of the fretwire, we re­move the wood in­be­tween each fret – so, es­sen­tially, the fin­ger never con­tacts the fret­board, which al­lows for an ex­tremely ef­fec­tive grip on the string.

Scal e Length Our choices here are his­tor­i­cally di­vided be­tween Fen­der ( 25.5 inches, 648mm) and Gibson ( 24.75 inches, 629mm), al­though PRS chooses to split the dif­fer­ence ( 25 inches, 635mm). The length of ap­prox­i­mately one fret sep­a­rates these two op­tions, so a Gibson tuned to E feels like a Fen­der tuned to Eb: there­fore, with both gui­tars in stan­dard tun­ing and all other fac­tors the same, you should dis­cern that the Gibson is some­what looser. It’s pos­si­ble to bal­ance these two dif­fer­ing feels by us­ing, say 0.010- gauge strings on a Fen­der and 0.011s on a Gibson. All of these fac­tors in­ter- re­late, and no two gui­tars are ever go­ing to feel ex­actly the same, so you may be best ad­vised to stick to one in­stru­ment while putting your bend­ing ac­cu­racy in place.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.