Learn How to Bend Notes on Guitar
by Rodrigo Sanchez, Jun 17, 2022 . 3 min read
Today we’re going to learn how to bend notes on guitar. Bending is an essential technique that is applied mostly on single lines.
It can add a great deal of expression to your solo, melody, or any other line you may play on your guitar.
World-class electric guitar players are typically masters in many techniques, and that includes bending. You can also bend on acoustic guitar, but this is much harder because the strings are much thicker.
However, when it comes to electric guitar, bending is widely used in blues, rock, country, pop, and even jazz. Icons like B.B. King and Eddie Van Halen had very different styles, but both used bending in their unique way to create magic. Without further ado, let’s learn how to bend notes on guitar.
Two types of bends
We can divide bending into two broad groups. The first one is the half steps bend and the second one is the hole-step bend. Naturally, there are other types of bends, but these two are by far the most common.
A half-step bend is equivalent to one fret. In other words, you place your finger on the note that you want to bend from, and push your finger up until it is raised a half step, to arrive at the note you want to get to. The sound you get should be the same as if you slide up one fret.
Similarly, for the whole step bend, you place your finger on the note you want to start your bend from and push your finger up until you have raised the note in one step, or the equivalent of two frets.
Tuning and accuracy
Bending in tune is paramount to getting good at this technique. This simply means that you have control over your wrist, hand and finger, so you can stop the bend exactly at the intended target note.
Use your wrist to control the bending motion, and press firmly while your finger moves the string upward.
A little help
Usually, you will be bending from your third finger. However, you can place your second and first fingers in position to help you push the string up.
In other words, put your middle and index finger in the adjacent frets from where the ring finger is, and move all three fingers up in one motion.
In order to get good at bending, you have to practice it. Although this may come as no surprise, it is good keeping it in mind. Chances are that when you try to bend for the first time, it will not sound good. You may even be a little lost or think it is impossible.
However, keep at it. I promise you it gets better, with practice that is. Make sure you use both types of bend described above and record yourself to really see how you really sound.
Speaking or recording yourself, check out Roadie Coach, for a great tool to help you in your progress. Coach offers you a series of features as well as personalized feedback on your playing. Among these features is a high-quality recorder, where you can record your bends and keep track of your progress.
With some dedication, you will learn how to bend notes on guitar in a matter of weeks, perhaps days. Remember that the keywords here are practice and accuracy. With time, bending will become a tool that you use often in your playing and will make you a much more expressive guitar player. Remember to take it slow at first, be patient, and have fun.