by Mike Lindyn
Bending is a great way of moving from one pitch to another while adding dynamics to a melody line. As the name implies this technique is executed by hitting a note and bending the string while allowing the note to continue to ring. This action will push the pitch of the note upward ranging from a quarter step to 2 ½ steps. Most of the time the movement created by a bend will be a half step or a whole step. When you bend the strings beyond 1½ steps you risk breaking a string.
Anyone can grab a guitar and start bending the strings. But will it sound good? The key bending is to stay in key and bend to the destination note cleanly. There are two bends we will be looking at here: whole step bends and half step bends. I recommend learning how to perform each of these bends by ear, which requires teaching yourself to hear the whole step and half step distances. The best way to teach yourself this is by have a starting note and a destination note. Start by hitting the note you want to get to (destination note) then hit the note you want to start from and bending that note until your create the tone of the destination note. Once you have bent the note to the desired tone hit destination note again to make sure you bent the note to the correct pitch. Below I show two examples. The first example shows how to create a whole step bend, the second example shows how to create a half step bend.
Whole Step Bends
The note D on the 7th fret of your G string is held for one measure. Then the note C is bent up a whole step to become a D. The note D is then hit again to confirm that the bend was to the correct pitch.
Half Step Bends
The note Db on the 6th fret of your G string is held for one measure. Then the note C is bent up a half step to become a Db. The note Db is then hit again to confirm that the bend was to the correct pitch.
When practicing this technique make sure you listen very carefully to the destination note. Make sure you hit it when bending. You may have to listen to this note a few times until you get it into your head. Keep working at it. In very little time you will have this technique down and you won’t have to listen to the destination note before bending. Once you have these two examples perfected try moving to other locations on your fretboard.