We’ve finally come to the last post in this series about a few basic things that beginning guitarists should know about bends. So let’s do a quick recap of everything we’ve talked about so far.
- You should be using your thumb as leverage, or an anchor point, to help distribute the work load more evenly when you bend.
- You should also be using your 3rd finger as much as possible for those bends, and to let your 1st and 2nd fingers help by pushing the string up.
Now there are plenty of other things that we could add to this list, and we will later for sure, but right now I feel like these are a good starting point for those of you who are just learning this technique.
Like I hinted at last time, I feel like this last tip that I have for you today is the most important one out of these three in our series. Because with enough experience, you can use any finger for bends, and you don’t HAVE to use your thumb if you don’t want to. These are a great helps for sure, but not at all a necessity in making a bend.
Be One With The Note
So, go ahead and grab your guitar and play that 9th fret on your 2nd string, B again. No bends yet, just play it. Now, go up one fret to 10, and play that note. Listen to the pitch or sound that it creates. Let it sink in for a few moments. Play it a few times if you need to, but let it absorb into your mind. Now go back to the 9th fret and try your bend again. Keep pushing your string up higher and higher until you reach that same pitch that you heard from the 10th fret. This is called a half step bend, or a half bend. We can talk about why in a different post.
The Real Reason All This Matters
When you’re doing bends, it’s SUPER important to be matching your bends to the right notes that you’re trying to bend to. The further away your pitch is to the one you’re trying to match, the less pro your bend sounds. Now, if you’re a beginner guitarist and this is your first real time diving into bends, don’t worry about it, you’re still learning! But just know that as you keep playing and getting better and more experienced, your pitch accuracy with bends really should start being paid attention to.
Try Using A Visual Cue
One thing that helped me when I was first learning bends was to use a visual guide on my fretboard to know when I had reached the right pitch. For example, if I do that same bend on the 9th fret with my electric guitar, I see that my string is visually lining up with the fretboard dot on my 7th fret. What I mean is that as I bend, the string gets closer and closer until finally touching the dot, at which point, I can see that the bend is now in tune with the right note.
I know, this is kind of a sloppy way of learning it. You really should be using your ears in an audio based art. But it actually did help me when I was first starting out, since my ear wasn’t “tuned up” like it is now. What I did back then was take a tuner and practice bending until it got up to the right pitch, and then I would try finding some sort of visual cue so that I could easily know when it was in tune.
Keep Practicing And Stay Encouraged
The most important part of course is to keep practicing! Not only will you start getting better at preforming bends the more you do them, but your ear will get much better too since you’re literally creating pitches out of nothing but your memory and feelings of what those pitches should be sounding like. This skill will some take time to develop so be patient, and don’t give up! Know that you are creating a stronger ear each time you bend.
Hope that helps, and feel free to leave any comments or questions.