IN THE WOOD­SHED

In the first of a new se­ries that aims to pro­mote bet­ter prac­tise and per­fect your play­ing, Char­lie Grif­fiths looks at bend­ing Whole Tone in­ter­vals – us­ing all four fin­gers!

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths aims to per­fect your prac­tise! This month, bend­ing whole-tone in­ter­vals.

The art of ac­cu­rate string bend­ing de­pends on be­ing able to con­trol a num­ber of vari­ables. The first thing to con­sider is which string you are play­ing; the ap­proach used to bend the sixth string is quite dif­fer­ent to the tech­nique of bend­ing the first string. When bend­ing the sixth string the only op­tion we have is to pull the string down to­wards the floor; push­ing up­wards will re­sult in fall­ing off the fret­board. The op­po­site is true when bend­ing the first string. In that case the only op­tion is to push the string up to­wards the ceil­ing. As a gen­eral rule, you can ap­ply ‘pull down’ bend­ing to the fourth, fifth and sixth strings and ‘push up’ bend­ing to the first, se­cond and third strings. For the third string how­ever, push and pull bend­ing seems to be ap­pli­ca­ble de­pend­ing on what feels nat­u­ral.

In Ex­am­ple 1 we fo­cus on pulling down the third string with each fin­ger. Bend­ing with the first fin­ger is made eas­ier by rest­ing the side of your knuckle on the un­der­side of the fret­board, and us­ing that as a pivot. Rather than flex­ing the fin­ger to move the string, turn the wrist to move the digit in a lever-like mo­tion. Turn­ing the wrist en­sures that you are us­ing your large fore­arm mus­cles and not putting un­due pres­sure on the smaller mus­cles in your hand. Of­ten early stage gui­tarists make the mis­take of think­ing that bends come from push­ing up with the fin­ger mus­cles; this is not the case and can lead to mus­cle strain. It’s also a good idea to hook your thumb over the top of the neck for ex­tra se­cu­rity.

To bend with your se­cond fin­ger keep your hand in the same po­si­tion and squeeze your first two fin­gers to­gether to es­sen­tially act as one. The same ap­proach can be taken with third fin­ger bends. Gen­tly squeeze your first three fin­gers to­gether to max­imise your grip on the string and turn your wrist as be­fore to pro­duce the bend. Adding the fourth fin­ger can cause the hand to ‘straighten up’ too much, so a good so­lu­tion is to move the third fin­ger out of the way and make con­tact with your se­cond and fourth fin­gers.

For Ex­am­ple 2 you can use ex­actly the same fin­ger po­si­tions but this time turn your wrist in the op­po­site di­rec­tion in or­der to push the string up a tone. In Ex­am­ple 3 we mix push and pull bend­ing to­gether; pull down on the third string and push up on the se­cond string. At this stage re­ally fo­cus on mak­ing the pitches ac­cu­rate. A tone is the same dis­tance as two frets, which you can also think of as the first two notes of Happy Birth­day; so sing along as you bend to help con­nect your fin­gers with your mu­si­cal ear.

Fi­nally, we have two mu­si­cal ex­am­ples so you can try the tech­nique in a ‘real’ sit­u­a­tion. First comes a heavy riff rem­i­nis­cent of Black Sab­bath or Queens Of The Stone Age, which uses tone bends with all four fin­gers along the sixth string. Next is an A mi­nor lick Steve Lukather might use in Toto, us­ing the mi­nor b3- b7) Pen­ta­tonic in­ter­vals (1- 4-5- as a ba­sis.

Prac­tise each ex­am­ple in short ses­sions so as not to put un­nec­es­sary strain your hands, and, fi­nally, try play­ing along with the back­ing tracks we’ve pro­vided.

Gen­tly squeeze your fir st three fing ers to­gether to max­imise your gri p, then sim­ply turn your wri st to pro­duce the bend

NEXT MONTH Char­lie takes an in-depth look at cre­at­ing vi­brato us­ing all four fin­gers.

Steve Lukather: well-stud­ied in the art of string bend­ing

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