Just some of your reg­u­lar GT tech­nique ex­perts...

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

string bend­ing is fun­da­men­tal to many styles of gui­tar mu­sic. Blues, rock and coun­try rely on it to add a vo­cal qual­ity to other­wise po­ten­tially ster­ile notes and licks. It’s also preva­lent in metal and fu­sion styles, but rather less so in straight jazz and be­bop.

I ac­tu­ally find it al­most im­pos­si­ble to play a solo with­out bend­ing strings. It’s some­thing that was fun­da­men­tal to the play­ing of my early gui­tar he­roes, so I in­cor­po­rated it nat­u­rally. Mind you, tele­graph wires on a cheap acous­tic have a way of train­ing the fin­gers to do these things. When I got my first ‘ proper’ elec­tric – a 1967 Tele­caster – I couldn’t be­lieve how easy it seemed to be. I’d had an elec­tric prior to this, but an older gui­tar- play­ing friend had ‘ re­li­ably’ in­formed me that elec­tric gui­tars needed flat-wound strings, so an­other year or so of strug­gle en­sued be­fore I awoke to the joys of Fen­der ‘ Rock & Roll’ .008 to .038s – none more bendy!

With cer­tain play­ers, it’s all about the bend­ing. Al­bert King with no string bends is al­most unimag­in­able; the same goes for Brian May, David Gil­mour and Jimi Hen­drix.

String bend­ing as an art in it­self has been de­vel­oped by these play­ers and oth­ers, and there are cer­tain ‘ sig­na­ture’ bends that we as­so­ciate with one or an­other – many of which you’ll find in this month’s fea­ture on the sub­ject, a com­bined ef­fort from John Wheatcroft and Jon Bishop.

When teach­ing at IGF or Gui­tar Break week­ends, I’ve of­ten found a mis­un­der­stand­ing of the me­chan­ics of string bend­ing, which leads to in­ac­cu­racy and the in­abil­ity to add that al­limpor­tant vi­brato at the top. Learn­ers of­ten ad­dress the strings with the fin­gers par­al­lel to the frets, be­liev­ing that flex­ing the fin­ger mus­cles is how it’s done. But the idea is to have the fin­gers at a 45- de­gree an­gle and sweep them round in an arc, while piv­ot­ing the fore­fin­ger against the neck. It’s a lever, pivot and ful­crum oper­a­tion, not a ‘ straight­en­ing out of the fin­gers’ move. John and Jon will get into this in much more de­tail later on. I hope you en­joy the fea­ture and get lots of slip­pery new bends un­der your fin­gers as a re­sult.

See you next month…

Neville Marten, Edi­tor neville. marten@ fu­turenet. com

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