String bending is an essential part of playing lead guitar, and is a must know if you want to play great solos. It gives added texture and color, and gives more freedom on the fretboard.

You may want to watch our video guitar lesson on string bending, it will be very useful.

How to Do a Proper String Bend?

  1. Fret any given note, with preferably your second, third or fourth finger.
  2. Line up the extra fingers you still have towards the neck of the guitar onto the same string (for example, if you fret string A at fret 6 with your 3rd finger, your line up your second finger on fret 5, and your 1st finger on fret 4
  3. Pluck the note, and pull the string up or down. This will raise its pitch. Aim at bending to a note 1 or 2 semitones higher than the original note.
  4. You can bend string D and G either up or down.
  5. The high E and B strings need to be bent upwards, since otherwise you’d pull the string off the fretboard.
  6. The opposite is true for the low E and A strings.

Many guitarists make the mistake of using only one finger to bend the string. That’s not very efficient, since it’s much harder than when you get help from your other fingers as well. Also, you have more control over the string when you have more “finger-power” behind it, so use as many fingers as you have left towards the neck.

How Far Do You Bend the String?

Generally, you will be bending to a note in the scale you are playing, which will, in most cases, be 1 or 2 semitones upwards of your original note. Raising the pitch of the string through bending requires a lot of ear training and practice. Do not neglect this, as it will add a new dimension to your riffs.

Test the sound as well. Bend the string to where you think the next semitone is, let it back than just pluck the next fret. If you have the same note, as where you bent it to, you were successful.

If you can do this with one fret (one semitone), try doing the same with 2 frets (2 semitones, or 1 whole note).

The minor pentatonic blues scale is great for practicing string bending, as several of the notes on the scale are 1 or 2 semitones apart, not to mention the fact that blues players make great use of string bending. Experiment with it.

You may want to watch our video guitar lesson on string bending as well.

A Couple of String Bending Tips, Notes

  • Most beginners have trouble getting the right pitch out of the bend. This will improve with practice, you’ll hear and feel how far you need to bend.
  • Your guitar goes out of tune easier if you string bend often. Make sure to check your tuning!
  • When you change the strings on your guitar, string bending will actually help them settle in faster, since you are stretching them more often.
  • The heavier gauge strings you have, the harder it will be to bend the string on your guitar.
  • Electric guitars are the easiest to bend strings on.
  • Steel string acoustic guitars are the most difficult, especially with .12 gauge strings.
  • The lower you go on the fretboard, the harder it will become to bend the string. For example, bending a string at fret 1 on a steel stringed acoustic guitar with heavy gauge strings is close to impossible.

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