One of the hardest things to learn. When you are a beginner guitar player is to bend strings. How to bend guitar strings and make them sound good. This takes some practice. But if you don’t know some basic principles of bending strings. Then it could take you a lot longer to learn.
So if you want to learn how to bend guitar strings you can get started today. How to bend guitar strings can be difficult if you don’t know the proper technique. Use more than one finger to leverage & assist with bending the string. Use your wrist to bend the strings. Lock your fingers to bend the strings. Bend up or down to the correct pitch.
If you want to learn the techniques to bend guitar strings. And make them sound great every time. Then grab your guitar and lets get to it.
Here are some simple tips. That once you master them. Will make bending the strings easy.
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Techniques to Bend Guitar Strings
First you want to use more than one finger to bend guitar strings. Usually you want to use two or even three fingers. Say your bending the G string at the 9th fret. So you are on the third string.
If you are bending the strings up. Then you want to use your third finger at the third fret. But beside your third finger. You want to have a back up. And possibly two back ups. Meaning your second finger and first finger all join in.
When bending the strings. There is no right or wrong. When it comes to using one or two fingers. To help when pushing the strings. This will come natural to you, after some practice. But you will definitely want to use at least one additional finger. The tension of the strings are strong. One finger can’t do the job.
This will give support to your third finger. Making it easier to bend the string. When bending the G string at the 9th fret. You are on the third string. Your second finger is going to be at the 8th fret. Supporting the third finger. Which is on the 9th fret.
Related article: How to mute guitar strings.
How to Bend Guitar Strings to the Desired Pitch
Next you want to remember. When you are bending the strings. To get the desired pitch. You need to get to the top of the bend as quick as possible. Whether you are bending a whole step, or a half step bend. To get the desired pitch you need to practice getting to the correct tone as soon as possible.
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When playing a note on a guitar. You place your finger on the string and pick the note. It’s going to be at the right pitch. Providing your guitar is in tune. But when you are bending a string. You are pushing the string with your fingers. In essence the string is free floating and the pitch can be off. This will happen if you don’t get to the desired bend. (Whole Step or Half Step)
Another tip – It is good practice when you bend the string. To verify that you are bending it to the correct pitch. To do this you want to Listen to the sound when you bend the string. Then go to the fret that you are trying to bend to. Fret the string and Pick it. Listen to the note and see if the two tones are the same.
When speaking of pitch. This is the sound that is a specific tone. Pitch can be high or low. Source
- When you practice bending the strings you want to use proper technique. Your wrist pivots and helps when pushing the strings. You want to keep your fingers firm. This will help push the string up.
- In most cases when bending strings. You will only be using the first three strings.
- If you were going to bend the 4th or 5th string. You would bend the string down instead of pushing it up.
You need to know the proper technique. Then you can practice bends. In the beginning it will take several try’s. Before you get the right pitch. But that’s okay Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to practice on guitar.
How to Bend a Whole Step
A whole note bend is when you start on one fret, or note. And end two frets up from the note you started at. An example of this is say your on the G string. Which is the third string. Say your on the 5th fret. If you were to play that note. You would place your finger on that fret and pick the third string. The pitch that you would hear. Is the C note. To move up a whole step from that. Now you would be playing the D note.
Instead of moving up to play the D. You can bend a whole step, to emulate the pitch of the D. If you are not familiar with the different notes. Just know that a whole step bend is two frets up, from the note that you want to bend to. And then you can use your ears. Listen to ensure you are bending up to the correct pitch. Which takes practice.
What you want to do is take the note. (2 frets up) Play the note listen to the sound. Then bend up to that pitch. When you get to where the pitch is the same sound. You have mastered the whole step bend.
Like the example, if you are on the G string. Still at the 5th fret. You are taking that note and bending it up. Until the pitch equals the same pitch, that is two frets up. Which will be the 7th fret. I hope that makes sense to you.
The great thing about bending strings. Is that you can play them all over the neck. So practice a whole note bend.
How to Bend a Half Step
A half note bend is similar to the whole note bend. But instead of going up two frets. You are going to go up one fret. An example of this is: If you are on the second string of your guitar. At the 8th fret. Then you are going to bend the string up from the 8th fret. To reach the same pitch that is heard on the 9th fret.
To find the pitch. Go up one fret from where you are going to bend the string. Fret the string at that fret. Pick the string and listen to the pitch. Now you want to bend the string. This will take practice to get to the right pitch.
Can You Bend Strings on an Acoustic Guitar?
Most bends on guitar are made with an electric guitar. The strings are lighter and much easier to bend, This is not to say that you can’t bend the strings on an acoustic guitar. But your not going to bend a whole note bend on an acoustic guitar very easy. There is so much tension on the strings. You can maybe do a half step bend. But it is going to be difficult. You need some strong fingers. There is so much tension to overcome. That your fingers will become tired quickly.
That being said I have a little parlor guitar. Which is an acoustic guitar, and I can bend the strings. That is my favorite guitar to grab and play in the living room. During the commercials.
Guitar String Bending Exercises
A good way to practice guitar bends. You start on any fret. And then you pick the string and bend a whole step bend. Once you get to the top of the bend pick the string.
Then when you come down release the string completely. Pick the open string. Then you pick and bend the string up again. To a half step bend. Once your at the top of the bend. Pick the string. Then when you come back down release the string. Pick the open string again.
Then immediately after that, perform a whole note bend. You can do this all over the neck. This will train your hand and muscle memory. So that before you know it. You will be doing guitar bends like a Rock Star.
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