Just some of your regular GT technique experts...
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…