24 - Advanced String Bending

Guitar Lessons – Advanced String Bending – Lesson 24

Advanced String Bending Techniques

In the previous lesson, we covered the basics of string bending and hopefully you’ve had a chance to work with some bends to get a good feel for it. Oddly enough, when you hear someone talking about a guitarist and they say something like “wow man, he’s got great feel…” You can bet it’s the way they bend notes during their lead playing that the person is talking about.

Advanced String Bending

So once you’ve mastered the basic ½ step and whole step bends, what’s the next logical step in becoming a killer note bending shredder? If you said “bending FURTHER than a whole step” you’re partially correct. You definitely can bend notes as far as you want, but it does get a lot more difficult to bend a note further than say…1 ½ steps or 3 frets due to the high string tension.
It’s also more difficult to hit the proper pitch with big bends but give it a try and work on it as big bends can add a dramatic flair to a lead passage.
There are a couple of bends that we need to look at that make up a big part of some guitarists style that also defines their signature sound. Stevie Ray Vaughan is a great example of a player that could send a chill down your spine with his bends. Two of the types of string bending techniques Stevie used that catches the ear are the pre-bend and a bend I like to call the “stop bend”.
To play a pre-bend, you simply fret a note but you bend the string before you pick it. It may sound tricky because you won’t be able to hear the bent note but don’t worry…it’s actually the note that we wind up at that is important. After you work with bends for a while, you’ll know how much force it takes to bend to the pitch you’re after and your pre-bends will sound just lovely.
The stop-bend is where you pick a note and bend the string to your target pitch such as a ½ step or whole step but rather than bending the note and letting it ring out, you bend up to the pitch and then cut it off dead. This technique works great for adding a little suspense to your playing. You could play a stop bend right before you start a new passage. The short amount of silence between the bend and the next passage creates a little tension and adds some feeling to the music.
Now it’s time to get the bends! Grab your guitar and work through these different examples and see if you can come up with some other interesting ways to incorporate these advanced string bending techniques into your playing. Hint: Try bending more than one string at once.