String bend­ing is usu­ally the sec­ond or third fin­ger’s depart­ment, but this month Char­lie Grif­fiths gives that lazy fourth fin­ger a much needed work­out.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths gives the much un­der­used digit – the fourth fin­ger – a work­out with a ses­sion in string bend­ing.

The fourth fin­ger is of­ten the weak­est and least used by gui­tarists. Whether you are shred­ding scales like Paul Gil­bert or play­ing a sim­ple blues phrase a la BB King, the chances are you try any­thing to avoid play­ing that fin­ish­ing bend with your fourth fin­ger, and find some way of land­ing on your third or sec­ond in­stead. Well, we’re here to break out of those old habits, move out of the com­fort zone and ex­pand our play­ing po­ten­tial; just like mas­ter fourth fin­ger ben­ders like Ge­orge Lynch and Steve Morse.

In this les­son we will train the fourth fin­ger to get com­fort­able with bend­ing any­thing from semi­tones to mi­nor 3rds, which is quite a dis­tance! The se­cret to con­fi­dent fourth string bend­ing is ‘re­in­force­ment’. Us­ing the fourth fin­ger alone to push and pull those high-ten­sion wires can feel al­most im­pos­si­ble, and could lead to in­jury. While we will use the fourth fin­ger to fret the de­sired bend, our se­cret weapons will be the other three fin­gers. The ba­sic premise is that you add ex­tra fin­gers to the string bend in or­der to share the load. These fin­gers don’t have to stay on their own frets; in fact, it’s bet­ter if the fin­gers are bunched to­gether to re­in­force the fourth fin­ger as much as pos­si­ble. You prob­a­bly won’t need to use all four fin­gers at once, so you can se­lect which ones make sense to you. A com­mon choice is to use first, sec­ond and fourth, tak­ing the third fin­ger out of the equa­tion, as in­clud­ing it can re­sult in a hand po­si­tion which is too ‘straight’.

In or­der to fur­ther take stress away from your fin­gers, we need to turn the wrist in or­der to lever the string up or down. Keep the side of your first fin­ger knuckle in con­tact with the un­der­side of the neck and grip the top of the neck with your thumb. This will an­gle your fin­gers into a more ‘bluesy’ po­si­tion, as op­posed to a more ‘straight’ align­ment.

The first ex­er­cise is based on semi­tones, which will warm up your hand and fore­arm.

We WILL TRAIN The fouRTh fIN­GeR To GeT com­foRT­ABLe WITh BeNd­ING ANY­ThING fRom semI­ToNe To fLAT 3Rd

Cor­rect hand po­si­tion­ing will re­duce fa­tigue and al­low you to play for longer with­out get­ting cramp, so use this ex­er­cise to hone your wrist move­ment and make sure your fin­gers aren’t push­ing or pulling the strings. The sec­ond ex­er­cise ex­pands on this with the use of tones in­stead of semi­tones. Both of these ex­am­ples re­quire push­ing up and pulling down on the strings de­pend­ing on which side of the fret­board you are on.

Ex­am­ple 3 puts the fourth fin­ger bend into the con­text of a sim­ple blues lick. Or­di­nar­ily, you might opt to play this with first and third fin­gers and use your third fin­ger to bend, but re­mem­ber what we said about mov­ing out of our com­fort zone?

Ex­am­ple 4 is based around the Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale, which com­prises both tones and mi­nor 3rds. The test here is to bend be­tween the scale tones, while keep­ing within the di­a­tonic (scale) frame­work. Bend­ing a mi­nor 3rd is quite a dis­tance – es­pe­cially for the fourth fin­ger alone – so it’s all the more im­por­tant to use your other fin­gers for re­in­force­ment; also, re­mem­ber to si­mul­ta­ne­ously squeeze down on top of the neck with your thumb for that ex­tra bit of sta­bil­ity and con­trol.

Ge­orge Lynch bend­ing at the top fret us­ing his fourth fin­ger

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